Artists paintings of clan castles
scottish art

Douglas Clan

Jamais arriere

Clan Douglas information
Douglas clan crest
Douglas Castle the original clan seat
clan Douglas tartan
clan map
Clan crest badge
Douglas Castle
Douglas tartan
Clan Location
picture of Aberdour Castle
picture of Balvenie Castle
picture of Bothwell Castle
picture of Drumlanrig Castle
Aberdour Castle
Balvenie Castle
Bothwell Castle
Drumlanrig Castle
picture of Hermitage Castle
picture of Hume Castle
picture of Lenoxlove House
picture of Loch Leven Castle
Hermitage Castle
Hume Castle
Lennoxlove House
Loch Leven Castle
picture of Morton Castle
picture of Newark Castle
picture of Tantallon castle
picture of Threave castle
Morton Castle
Newark Castle
Tantallon Castle
Threave Castle
  • Clan Name: Douglas
  • Clan Motto:Jamais arriere
  • Clan Chief:
  • Clan Lands:
  • Plant Badge: Rue
  • Castle Paintings :
  • Clan Names: Douglas.
  • Clan Motto: Jamais arriere - never behind
  • Clan Chief: No current Chief - see note below *
  • Clan Seat: originally Douglas Castle
  • Clan Lands: Douglas, South Lanarkshire
  • Clan Tartan :
  • Clan links : Clan Douglas History
  • Clan links :
  • Clan links :

Clan History

* In present times, His Grace Angus Douglas-Hamilton, 15th Duke of Hamilton and 12th Duke of Brandon is heir to the chiefdom of the House of Douglas, although he cannot assume the title of chief, as the Lord Lyon King of Arms requires him to assume the single name Douglas. ( The Duke of Hamilton is also the Chief of Clan Hamilton.)

From the border's came one of Scotland's most powerful families. Their first mention seems to be a Sir William De Douglas who was a witness to an agreement between the Bishop of Glasgow and the Monks of Kelso abbey in 1175. Two of his sons fought in the Battle of Largs in 1263.
His great-grandson William Douglas the Hardy was governor of Berwick when English King Edward 1st sacked it in 1296. A slaughter that killed about 8,000 of the town's population when Edward arrived with 5,000 cavalry and 30,000 infantry. Defenders were promised a safe passage if they surrendered but The Douglas was taken prisoner. He was later released after accepting Edward's claim as Overlord. When he was again captured fighting for William Wallace he was taken to the Tower of London and killed in 1302.

His son James fought alongside Robert the Bruce where his prowess and bravery promoted him to one of Bruce's greatest military leaders. He was nicknamed the
Black Douglas because he had a dark colouring to his skin. When knighted the now. Sir James Douglas was one of King Robert the Bruce's most trusted friends. This meant the clan played a prominent part in a lot of central events at an important time in Scotland's evolution.

As King Robert lay dying, there was one promise he had failed to carry out. As part of the deal with the Pope, to get Papal oil to anoint Kings of Scotland at coronation, he had promised to carry out a crusade to the holy land.
He entrusted his good friend Sir James Douglas to take his heart on a crusade. His body was buried at Dunfermline Abbey but his embalmed heart was taken in a silver casket to the Holy land.
Many battles met with them en route and it is said, when the Scots contingent became separated from the rest of the christians and surrounded by vastly superior numbers, James threw the casket at the enemy and charged after it shouting, "lead on Braveheart" unfortunately he was cut down and died in 1330 in Moorish Spain. His good friend Borthwick returned the body home and Bruce's heart is buried at Melrose abbey.

Sir James's nephew, also a James, the 2nd Earl of Douglas, attacked Newcastle in 1388 and took the Standard of Hendry Percy, the Garrison Commander. Sir James with his 6,000 men withdrew and laden with booty made back for Scotland. Percy, with his 8,000 trained soldiers gave chase and by the time he caught up it was getting dark. The Battle of Otterburn started in the moonlight, in open country, on the 5th August 1388. The Scots were so taken by surprise, they were caught celebrating and James had no time to put on his armour. They rallied to the Earl and fought bravely through the night. The battle was a famous victory with Percy and his brother among the prisoners and 1800 English lay dead. During the battle tragically James was mortally wounded and carried back to Melrose abbey where he was buried.

During all this the Clan Douglas was nearing it's peak, already a well connected family they were constantly picking up lands and titles. In the early 1400's the big chance came when the grand-daughter of the last chief married David the Duke of Rothesay ( the son and heir to King Robert 3rd ). Two years later David died in mysterious circumstances.

The Clan still stayed close to the throne and in 1437 Archibald the 5th Earl was appointed Lieutenant General of Scotland. Around this time the Clan was evolving into two distinct branches the Black Douglas's and the Red Douglas's, so called because of their red hair.

With power comes enemies and in 1440 William the 6th Earl of Douglas was invited to dine with the 10 year old King James 2nd at Edinburgh Castle by Sir Alexander Crighton. After the banquet William and his brother David were seized and imprisoned later to be beheaded on charges of treason.
The Black Douglas's were said to be capable of raising 30,000 men to battle without much effort.
William the 8th Earl, signed an alliance with the MacDonalds and the Crawfords.
This was to be the start of a kind of retribution, whether justified or not, it was a way of trying to curb the Black Douglas's power as their strength could or was a threat to the crown.
In 1452 the young King, now the man in charge, summoned the 8th Earl to a meeting at Edinburgh Castle, giving personal assurances to his safety, the Earl was brutally stabbed to death with King James striking the first blow.
James, his brother and successor, now the 9th Earl, sacked the Royal estates in Stirling as a means of getting back at the King.
This all came to a head with the Battle of Arkinholm in 1455 where the royal forces consisting mainly of Red Douglases and Clan Johnstone, their neighbours, captured the Castle of Abercorn, Archibald Douglas, Earl of Moray was killed in the battle and his head presented to the King, Hugh Douglas, Earl of Ormonde was captured and executed and John Douglas, Lord of Balvenie fled to England. James, the 9th and Clan chief, was absent during this, in England trying to muster support. The rest of the Black Douglas's properties and lands were attained on behalf of the crown. James, now an outlaw and rebel Earl, was eventually captured in 1484 at Lochmaben and lived out his life as a Royal prisoner.

As the Blacks waned the Reds grew to importance, regaining some of the Clan titles and lands.

James the 4th Earl of Morton was elected the Scottish Regent in 1572 to the young King James 6th. The Regent lived an elegant lifestyle until he was arrested in 1580. He was accused of involvement in the murder of Lord Darnley, King James VI's father. The Earl was brought to trial and executed, by the guillotine he himself had introduced, in June 1581.

The Clan fought on the Royalists side in the English civil war and took the British governments side in the Jacobite uprisings.

William 2nd Marques of Douglas became Duke of Hamilton, through marriage in 1660, the Douglas and Angus titles passed to the Duke of Hamilton's line and by a complicated descent the Douglas lands passed to the Earls of Home.

The Cameronian Regiment (not to be confused with the Camerons) consisted mainly of Douglas's, it beat of a Jacobite attack at the Battle of Dunkeld in 1689, this was shortly after the Battle of Killiekrankie where Bonnie Dundee fell. The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) fought in the Boer War, raised 27 battalions in the first World War and fought in the second World War. They were disbanded in 1968 at Douglas Castle in Douglas.

Sir Alex Douglas-Home was Prime Minister in 1963 - 64.


Aberdour Castle is located on the south coast of Fife between Burntisland and the Forth Bridge. It is a semi-ruin under the protection of Historic Scotland. Originally believed to have been started in 1150 by Sir Alan Mortimer. It was built as a fortified dwelling, as certain parts of the original structure can still be seen, making this possibly the oldest standing masonry castle in the country. It came into the Douglas's hands in the 15th century. At that time it was extended and modernised by the Earl of Morton, Lord of Dalkeith. From that time there were many additions, also by the present Regent Morton in the 16th and the 7th Earl in the 17th century bringing it more to a luxury dwelling with impressive gardens and terraces overlooking the Firth of Forth. It was used as a second home until 1642.
In 1725 the family bought Aberdour House, nearby, which had larger grounds and a better view. From that time the castle upkeep was neglected. It is open to visitors throughout the year and well worth a visit.

Balvenie Castle

Berwick Castle (story above) originally stood where the railway station stands today, there are still a few remains of the outer walls by the viaduct.

Bothwell Castle is 10 miles south-east of Glasgow. In 1242 the lands around Bothwell were inherited by Walter of Moray through marriage and he started to build a castle of stone on the original fortifications. Before he was finished Bothwell was caught up in the political situation at the time. Edward the 1st had carried on after Berwick and invaded Scotland, his army captured the castle.

Bowhill House

Dalkeith Castle is situated just to the south of Edinburgh. It was originally built by the Grahams around 1140. It was in a good defensible position and gave both defence and early warning to the capital.
In 1341 John Graham of Dalkeith died without heir and his sister Marjory inherited the Barony, she was married to Sir William Douglas of Lothian, knight of Liddesdale, so the lands were passed on to the Douglas clan.
In 1518 King James 5th took refuge at Dalkeith from the plague when it reached Edinburgh.
The castle was destroyed by the English in 1547. In 1575 James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton built another castle to replace it, this time bigger and stronger to meet the new developments in siege warfare. During the English Civil War General Leslie attacked and took and took possession of Dalkeith Castle in 1639 on behalf of the Conenanters. They removed the crown jewels, which had been stored there for safekeeping. The castle was eventually returned to the Earl of Morton but Lord Morton had been ruined in the Royalist cause and in 1642 he sold the castle and estate for 500,000 merks to Francis Scott, the second Earl of Buccleuch.
Subsequent modifications and additions in the early 17th and 18th century have turned the building into a palace with many notable features. Several well known figures have broken their journeys to stay at the palace including Bonnie Prince Charlie, King George 4th and Queen Victoria.
It is still in the hands of the Buccleuch family who have leased it out since 1914.

Douglas Castle stood near the town of Douglas in Lanarkshire. It was the seat of Sir James Douglas, friend of The Bruce. The castle had been captured and occupied by the English and in 1307 James attacked trapping the English garrison in the chapel and recaptured his castle. Unfortunately between 1938 and 1948 an underground coal seam opened up and left the castle in such an unstable condition it had to be demolished.
Sir Walter Scott immortalised Douglas Castle in his story Castle Dangerous.

Drumlanrig Castle is situated about 17 miles north of Dumfries, near Thornhill. Margaret of Mar was the title of the wife of the first Earl of Douglas. When her brother Thomas of Mar died childless in 1374, she inherited the Mar estates and title. This brought Drumlanrig Castle and estate into the family where it stayed, for 450 years, until William 4th Duke of Queensberry died in 1810 without official heir. The title, estates and castle passed on to his second cousin, once removed Henry the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch.
The castle as it stands today is the result of a re-build around 1690. It was built as a dwelling fit for a Duke, by William Douglas the 1st Duke of Queensberry.

Duffus Castle

Grangemuir House

Hawthornden Castle is one mile from Roslin and 12 miles south of Edinburgh. It came into the Douglas family in the 14th century. It was attacked by the English twice in the mid 16th century and ownership passed to the Drummond Clan 20 years later.

Hermitage Castle is located 12 miles south of Hawick. It stands guard on one of the main routes into Scotland called Liddesdale. Some of the internals on the castle date back to around 1250. From the 14th century on the castle changed owners frequently between nations. In 1335 King Edward Baliol gave it to an English supporter, Ralph Neville.

Hume Castle

Kilspindie Castle

Lennoxlove House

Loch Leven Castle is located on an island in loch leven which is just south east of Kinross. The area around the loch was an ancient Douglas stronghold awarded by King Robert 2nd in 1372. The castle is most remembered as the prison where Sir William Douglas held Mary Queen of Scots captive for a year in 1567 - 1568. It was sold in 1675 to Sir William Bruce.

Lochindorb Castle

Morton Castle

Newark Castle

Ormond Castle

Roxburgh Castle

Sandilands Castle

Strathaven Castle

Tantallon Castle

Threave Castle is on an island in the river Dee, Kirkudbrightshire, 2 miles from Castle Douglas. Built by Archibald the Grim (son of Sir James Douglas, heart of Bruce fame), in 1370. After the Battle of Arkinholm King James began to systematicaly destroy all the Douglas strongholds. Threave held out, despite a seige of two months and in spite of heavy bombardment, personally supervised by the King himself. The castle only surrendered after the garrison commander was promised various payments and safe conduct.
Sir Alexander Boyd of Drumcoll was appointed first constable for the crown. After a successions of constable keepers it was granted to Lord Maxwell of Caerlaverock Castle in 1513. It was traded to the English ans they were later ejected, it was again under seige by the covenanters this time and held out for three months before capitulating then it was slighted. - made uninhabitable.
Today it is under the care of Historic Scotland and is open to the public during the summer months.

Timpendean Tower

Douglas history
Scottish contemporary Art
Scottish contemporary Art




Arms of the first Duke of DouglasArms of 1st Duke of Douglas
died 1761



a print showing Aberdour Castle in 1800
Print showing
Aberdour Castle in 1800
etching showing how Bothwell Castle looked in 1690
Bothwell Castle 1690
a painting showing Bothwell Castle in 1761
Painting showing
Bothwell Castle in 1761
painting of Dalkeith Palace 1800
Dalkeith Palace 1800
famous painting by Da Vinci of the Madonna with the Yarnwinder
Madonna with the Yarnwinder
painted 1505, valued £35m,
stolen from
Drumlanrig Castle 2003
a picture of Douglas Castle as it was in 1890
Douglas Castle 1890
an oil painting of Hermitage Castle from 1867
Oil Painting of
Hermitage Castle 1867
old print of Hawthorden castle
Hawthorden Castle
a print of Tantallon Castle by Joseph Farington in 1792
A view of Tantallon Castle
by Farington in 1792
a painting of Tantallon castle by Scottish artist Nasmyth
An impressive Nasmyth
painting of Tantallon Castle
in 1813
old print of unknown date
Tantallon Castle
a painting of James Douglas the 4th Earl of Morton about 1560
James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, Regent of Scotland.
painted around 1560
a painting of James Douglas 2nd Duke of Queensbury
James Douglas 2nd Duke of Queensbury
Statesman 1662-1711


drawing of Hermitage Castle
"guardhouse to the bloodiest valley in Britain"



Douglas clan shield