The medieval castle of Häme is located on the coast of lake Vanajavesi. It was originally located on an island.
The castle's age is disputed. Traditionally the construction of the castle has been connected to the legendary Second Swedish Crusade which would date the castle in the mid-13th century. However, there are no finds from the castle that can be firmly dated to a period earlier than 1320s. Also the contents of the crusade legend have been seriously contested. An earlier fortification from about 1300 only some 20 kilometres away in Hakoinen also makes a 14th century dating for Häme Castle more probable. Only one castle ("Tauestahus") is listed in Tavastia in a royal document from 1308. Also, the Russian Novgorod Chronicle only mentions one castle during their plundering of Tavastia in 1311, its description matching well with the castle in Hakoinen.
The construction of Häme castle probably started after the Novgorod invasion. The first castle was made of gray stone, and later bricks were used.
The castle lost military importance by the end of the 16th century. Its defensive systems were upgraded in the 18th century with bastions around the castle. The castle became a prison in the 19th century and served as such until 1953, when massive restoration work started. The castle has been a museum since 1988. Facilities can also be rented for private events.
Craigmillar is one of Scotland’s most perfectly preserved castles. It began as a simple tower-house residence. Gradually, over time, it developed into a complex of structures and spaces, as subsequent owners attempted to improve its comfort and amenity. As a result, there are many nooks and crannies to explore.
The surrounding gardens and parkland were also important. The present-day Craigmillar Castle Park has fascinating reminders of the castle’s days as a rural retreat on the edge of Scotland’s capital city.
At the core lies the original, late-14th-century tower house, among the first of this form of castle built in Scotland. It stands 17m high to the battlements, has walls almost 3m thick, and holds a warren of rooms, including a fine great hall on the first floor.
‘Queen Mary’s Room’, also on the first floor, is where Mary is said to have slept when staying at Craigmillar. However, it is more likely she occupied a multi-roomed apartment elsewhere in the courtyard, probably in the east range.
Sir Simon Preston was a loyal supporter of Queen Mary, whom she appointed as Provost of Edinburgh. In this capacity, he was her host for her first night as a prisoner, at his townhouse in the High Street, on 15 June 1567. She was taken to Lochleven Castle the following day.
The west range was rebuilt after 1660 as a family residence for the Gilmour family.
The 15th-century courtyard wall is well preserved, complete with gunholes shaped like inverted keyholes. Ancillary buildings lie within it, including a private family chapel.