Lands at Cammo belonged to the Abbey of Incholm until c.1400 when Robert de Cardney, Bishop of Dunkeld, acquired it. He sold it in 1409 to John de Nudre, and thereafter the estate passed through a series of owners until owned by the Menzies family. John Menzies of Coulterallers (Lanarkshire) either built or remodelled Cammo House in 1693.
In 1710, the estate was sold to Sir John Clerk (1676-1755), later 2nd Baronet of Penicuik, for about £2,800 (Clerk, 1892). It was of a modest size with only 'a few firs on the east side of the house', Clerk noted. A member of the last Scottish Parliament and of the first of Great Britain, he became a commissioner for the Union in 1706-7 and then a Baron of the Court of Exchequer. An amateur architect, he worked with William Adam in the 1720's at his home at Mavisbank (q.v. Inventory, Volume 5, p.160-4), and translated his pastoral and poetic into the landscape design of the family estate of Newbiggin in the early 1700s (q.v. Inventory, Volume 5, p.186-92).
Clerk's The Country Seat, a long poem in blank verse that presents his theories on architecture and landscaping, was written after he had sold Cammo. Although he carried out extensive work at Cammo from 1711 to 1719, his work there does not seem to reflect these principles. Clerk kept a memorandum of his landscape work at Cammo, although exact locations are not always clear. A surviving pre-scale sketch plan of 1722 shows a typical, regular enclosure layout with parks. The landscape design consisted of a framework of axial paths, avenues, vistas and roundels centred on the house and formal gardens. Plantations were located on either side of the house and South Avenue, a double avenue of oaks, was a particularly prominent feature (Hogarth, 1999). Survey and analysis of the modern Cammo landscape has shown that Clerk's structure largely survives and formed the framework for subsequent landscape development.
Following his father's death in 1722, Clerk became 2nd Baronet and sold Cammo as it was inconvenient to live at when the majority of his estates lay 'on the South side of the Pentland hills'. Furthermore his 'father wisht and expected that he should for the most part take up his residence at Penicuik' (Memoirs, p.113). Cammo was bought by John Hog, an Edinburgh tax collector and a relation of Clerk's, who commissioned William Adam to remodel Cammo House. Adam may also have been responsible for designing the formal canal there in the late 1720's. Following financial embarrassments Hog was forced to sell the Cammo estate to James Watson in 1741.
Watson, who had married Lady Helen Hope, daughter of Charles 1st Earl of Hopetoun in 1737, renamed the estate New Saughton and it became their principal residence. Either James Watson, or his son Charles, who succeeded in 1778, was responsible for remodelling the estate in the late 18th century 'landscape' style. The south avenue was thinned, the house was surrounded by open parkland scattered with parkland trees and enclosed by perimeter belts. The formal gardens were removed, a ha-ha was constructed to take advantage of wide, open views of the surrounding countryside and a separate walled garden and glasshouses were constructed.
The layout for the landscape was rather typical and unremarkable for its period, but Clerk's scheme of improvements determined its main structure (Bell, 1805). The main elements of Clerk's design, field lines, boundary plantations and East Avenue were incorporated into the parkland.
The estate remained in the Watson family until 1898. Late 1800's development included a pinetum, planted to the west of the house. After 1898 the Maitland Tennant family owned the estate and there were few new developments. The northern and eastern policies were leased to the Cramond Brig Golf Club from 1910 to 1929. Following the Club's relocation to Dalmahoy the course became farmland. In 1980 the estate was acquired by the National Trust for Scotland and is now managed in association with the City of Edinburgh Council.