Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
NT 17699 56529
317699, 656529

A picturesque landscape laid out along a glen on the River North Esk, associated with an 18th century house, gardens and a walled garden. From the late 18th century to the early 19th century Robert Brown (owner of Newhall 1783-1832) developed the idea of Newhall as the setting for The Gentle Shepherd.

Type of Site

A picturesque landscape laid out along a glen on the River North Esk, associated with an 18th century house, gardens and a walled garden.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

The development of the landscape was associated with the construction of Newhall House in 1705, and from the late 18th century to the early 19th century Robert Brown (owner of Newhall 1783-1832) developed the idea of Newhall as the setting for The Gentle Shepherd.

Artistic Interest

Level of interest

Newhall has outstanding value as a Work of Art because of its picturesque qualities.


Level of interest

The development of Newhall's landscape as the dramatic setting for the action of The Gentle Shepherd, and its connection with other important Scottish figures gives this site outstanding Historical value.


Level of interest

The plants within the walled garden and the trees within the policies have some Horticultural/Arboricultural value.


Level of interest

Newhall has outstanding Architectural value as the landscape with its ornamental buildings and features, and house with internal decorations, all of which centre on the iconography of The Gentle Shepherd. The house, a Category B listed building which has not changed significantly for 150 years, is particularly important because of work by Sir John Clerk (d.1722) and later elements by David Bryce.


Level of interest

Newhall has high Archaeological potential in the form of coal workings, particularly around Marlfield and Harbour Craig. Other elements of interest include mills and lime-kilns and, in the vicinity of the house, the earlier gardens, chapels, yards, and other built structures.


Level of interest

Newhall has outstanding Scenic value provided by views out of the designed landscape and the contribution made by its woodlands to the surrounding landscape.

Nature Conservation

Level of interest

The site has outstanding Nature Conservation value because the Glen is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest, which includes the Carlops glacier meltwater channels.

Location and Setting

Newhall House lies within the parish of Penicuik, 1.5km to the north-east of the village of Carlops, and adjacent to the south-east side of the Edinburgh-Biggar Road (A702). The River North Esk flows north-eastwards from the foot of the Pentland Hills and, at this point, through a deeply incised channel constricted in a steep narrow gorge cut through sedimentary strata. Newhall is set out along this densely wooded glen with an area to the south of the river, lying within the Tweedale District of the Scottish Borders. This southern area is predominantly rough and improved pasture that gives way southwards to Harlaw Muir, an area of grass and heather moorland, part of the Auchencorh Moors. The landscape immediately surrounding Newhall along the Esk gorge mainly comprises 18th century enclosures indicated by regular field boundaries, linear woodlands and shelterbelts in an open landscape. The Pentland Hills form a backcloth to the immediate north-west.

From the A702, the heavily wooded landscape around Newhall is important in what is a relatively unwooded, open area. From Mill Bridge there are views north-west to Patie's Hill (480m/1574ft) in the Pentlands. From the eastern end of the estate there are broader views to the east towards Walstone Muir and Marfield. Important views within the landscape from the terrace at the south-east of the house down Fairie's Linn and from Mary's Bower down the glen are now largely obscured by tree growth.

Other important views lie from The Steel over to Marfield Loch, and the banks of nearby Monk's Haugh. Long-distance views out of the landscape can be had from various points along the high level walks above Newhall Glen.

The development of the landscape at Newhall is well documented. By the mid 18th century, an enclosure landscape of square parks had been set out (Lawrie, 1765). An 1808 edition of The Gentle Shepherd includes 'A Map of the Scenary of the Gentle Shepherd from a plan of the year 1770 with several Additions from a later survey 1808'. By comparing this with later Ordnance Survey maps, the development of the landscape to the present day can be charted.

Although the picturesque layout is centred around Newhall Glen, it extended over a wider area. To the east it includes Marfield Loch, the road to it on the 1808 plan marked as 'Road to the Scenary'. The introductory text adds 'a road leads down to the farmhouse of Marfield and the east end of the Marfield Loch, where the scenery of The Gentle Shepherd begins by a view south-westward over the loch and the Glen of the North Esk, of Symon's House in Tweedale….'. Robert Brown, who bought the estate in 1755, acquired a yawl from the Gulf of Mexico, placed it on the Marfield Loch, primarily as an object to view from the high banks of a nearby Monk's Haugh (NSA, 1845).

All the sites mentioned in Ramsay's poem and marked on the 1825 OS plan (1st edition OS 6", 1852-3) can be identified.

Site History

The history of the designed landscape at Newhall relates almost entirely to the 18th and 19th centuries, but given the age and early monastic tradition of the site earlier landscape activity cannot be ruled out.

In 1646, Dr Alexander Pennycuick, a surgeon, acquired Newhall. His son, also Alexander (1652-1722), was a physician, botanist, poet and friend of James Sutherland, author of Hortus Edinburghensis, (1684). Alexander Pennycuick the younger, had an extensive knowledge of the surrounding Tweeddale landscape and published his Description of Tweedale, (1717), Little is known of the landscape at this period. The Pennycuick family lived mainly at their principal house at Romano and seem to have made no changes to the tower at Newhall. The property was given to one of his daughters on her marriage in 1702 to Mr Oliphant, who being in debt, sold it to Sir David Forbes, a lawyer in 1703.

Sir David Forbes was married to Catherine Clerk, sister to Sir John Clerk, 1st Bt. of Penicuik (q.v. Inventory, Volume 5, p.186-92). His son, John Forbes, was a close friend and patron of Allan Ramsay who addressed several poems to him an elegy to 'Lady Newhall', as he styled Mrs Forbes. William Tytler of Woodhouselee (1711-92), the Scottish historian and Edinburgh lawyer, described listening to Ramsay reciting different scenes from The Gentle Shepherd when visiting Newhall, said to be its setting. Allan Ramsay had an intimate knowledge of the area from his frequent visits there. One suggestion is that Sir William Worthy may represent Sir David Forbes (Brown, 1919; Young 1998).

Sir David Forbes and his son, John, were both responsible for the early planting, including the wooded glen of Habbie's Howe, the focus of the drama of The Gentle Shepherd. In addition to his interests in the arts and improvement of his estates, John Forbes was particularly interested in the cultivation of potatoes, no doubt due to the characteristics of the local soils. The first trials of growing potatoes in pure wheat were supposedly at Newhall in 1750 (Scottish Historical Review, 1919). Forbes got into financial difficulties in the 1740s, having added the lands of Carlops and Spittals to the estate and spent 'considerable sums on his house, parks, planting and improvement, and upon coal works' (Brown, 1919). He died in 1748.

Newhall changed ownership several times before being bought in 1783 by Thomas Dunmore (1706-88) for his grandson and ward, Robert Brown (1758-1832). Brown was a Glasgow merchant, founder of the weaving village at Carlops in c1784, where he established an industry of handloom weavers.

Brown enlarged and remodelled the house and carried out extensive planting. He commemorated his grandfather by an obelisk memorial. In celebrating Newhall as the setting for The Gentle Shepherd, he identified all the places in the poem and marking the direction in which the different spots lay. He is credited with leaving 'untouched the Newhall avenues, now grown up, but he continued the planting of the grounds and the glen, and much of the timber in Habbie's Howe is due to him.' (Brown, 1919). Changes such as the curving drive may relate to his improvements. A practical farmer, he practised and promoted crop rotation suited to the poor peaty soil, experimenting particularly with turnips and carrots and rejected the theory of high input-high output cropping in favour of small one-family farms. The settlement pattern resulting from this around Carlops persisted until the 1920s. Brown was also a poet, and author of two five-act historical dramas, as well as a drama entitled Mary's Bower or The Castle in the Glen. Mary's Bower, a small stone building, survives at Newhall, looking out over Newhall Glen. Sir John Watson Gordon (1788-1864), the artist most associated with Newhall, painted six scenes for the play.

Newhall belonged to three generations of Browns. The last, Horatio Brown, sold the estate in 1925. the current owner bought it in 1946, the family have been tenants prior to 1915.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Newhall House dates from 1703 and consists of a two-storey building with garret, incorporating a vaulted first storey from an earlier castle. Built by David Forbes, it was reputedly designed by John Clerk of Penicuik whose father, the first Baronet, supervised its construction. Some rooms were altered in the late 18th century to the designs of the owner, Robert Brown. Castellated additions of 1852, to the north, are by David Bryce (1803-76).

Entry Head Lodge (outside the inventory boundary) is sited on the Roman road to the north of Newhall. It is a single-storey stone cottage with a slate roof, and sash and case windows. Mill Bridge carries the drive over the River North Esk, and is constructed of coarse rubble over a brick arch, without a parapet. A stone Wellhead is sited in the park on the approach to the house. The South Lodge and Gate Piers comprise a single-storey stone cottage with sash and case windows, and square dressed stone gate piers surmounted by large obelisks with stone feet clasping the pier below. The Steading, built c1800, to the north of the walled garden, includes a walled midden, and a flailing floor within the steading building. The designed landscape is liberally dressed with drystone dykes.

A ha-ha on the lime avenue north of the house separates the garden from the park. By the house there is a sundial, dated 1810, erected in memory of Allan Ramsay. It has a tapered shaft, with inscriptions and designs, on a four-stepped base. The late 18th century Rustic Hut (Mary's Bower) is a circular building of stugged ashlar, with a conical thatched roof and pointed Gothic windows and arches, recently restored. The Thomas Dunmore Memorial, dated 1794, situated is an open area of grassland east of Newhall House, is an ashlar memorial to Thomas Dunmore of Kelvinside. The Brown Family Graveyard, at the top of Newhall Glen, is surrounded by a low wall of dressed stone. Two carved stone plaques, the Lonely Bield Plaques, in Newhall Glen allude to scenes in The Gentle Shepherd. The early 18th century Composite Sundial, in the walled garden, comprises an octagonal shaft with figures of the seasons. This has been attributed to a local sculptor, James Gifford of West Linton, and sits on two square plinths with an octagonal surbase. It is surmounted by a globe and scrolled sundial.

Drives & Approaches

The main drive forms a picturesque line through the 18th century square parks enclosed by John Forbes. Part of the drive shows evidence of earlier 18th century planting by way of mature lime (Tilia x europaea). Other mature specimens of horse chestnut (Aesulus x hippocastanum), beech (Fagus sylvatica), and ash (Fraxinus excelsior) enclose the area and conceal the house from the drive.

The Rhododendron Walk leads north to Peggyslea Farm, and is the remains of an earlier approach to Newhall. This originally formed part of a toll-free track between Carlops to Maybank, near Auchendinny but its use ceased when the intervening land was sold in 1925. In an 1808 map in The Gentle Shepherd a Gatehouse stood on this track to the north-east of Peggyslea. The track then continued east/west through the Newhall policies, taking an axial approach nearer the house, and then turning south-east to the lodge at Kitleyknowe. This approach to Newhall from the south is dramatic, with sweeping views over the surrounding wild and open countryside over Turtle Back.

The building of the turnpike road (A702) in 1832 through the Newhall parks, altered the main approach to its present position, to the north of Newhall at Beechbank. Although a grander approach from the old road to the north had been planned, it was probably never completed as the construction of the A702 intervened. Nevertheless, the Entry Lodge Head was built is extant.

Paths & Walks

Newhall Glen is the focus of the picturesque landscape, relating directly to The Gentle Shepherd. It comprises of a series of circuit walks laid out along the glen and the Fairies Linn, formed by a tributary of the River North Esk. All the bridges and sites along the glen including Peggy's Pool, Sandys Cave, the Washing Green, Craggy Bield, Glaud's Yard, the Lonely Bield and Mary's Bower, can still be located.

The Glen is heavily wooded with beech both on the higher ground and perimeter of the more open farmscape. The area also contains regenerating sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), ash, holm oak (Quercus ilex), and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).

The Gardens

Little is left of the gardens that surrounded the 1703 house, but south-west of the house there is a rectangle of raised ground referred to since Brown's time as a chapel-yard, there being a small square ruin at its south-west corner. Below the house, straddling the burn in Fairies Linn that passes the ruin of the former wash-house, there was a lower garden. This was replaced by the East Garden, situated on the edge of the glen, of which traces survive to the south of the present walled garden (Young, 1998).

The garden around the house consists of a horseshoe-shaped terrace lawn, on a projecting cliff which looks south-east down the Glen, and is enclosed by a stone balustrade. Clipped Irish yews (Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata') line the gravel path leading from the house to this terrace where the focal point is the Allan Ramsay sundial, 1810. From here a path leads down into Newhall Glen. To the north of the terrace, a path leads into the Fairies Linn. The top of the north-east bank is planted with a line of mature limes. The burn issues from a pond with an island cascade. To the west of the alleged chapel site, a broad path planted with beeches make a longer walk to the Glen.

Walled Gardens

The walled garden and adjacent yard and steading were built by Robert Brown (1796). The walled garden is rectangular with stone walls about 4m high. The garden has three entrances each with wrought-iron gates on the north-west, north-east, and south-east. Stone busts of Pan and Pastora, now on the south gate pillars, previously stood on the Forbes gateway to Newhall House. The vine-house contains an old vine of unknown age and there is a heated melon pit. The surviving layout of offset cruciform paths is probably original. The existing planting created by the present owner's family includes central double herbaceous and mixed borders backed by purple-leaved plum (Prunus cerasifera 'Pissardii') with a central roundel of beech hedge. It is also a fully productive fruit and vegetable garden and the walls are covered with espaliered fruit. The north-west axis focuses on the steading cottage and walled midden which in recent years provided a sheltered enclosure for planting.



Maps, Plans and Archives

1853 survey, 1st edition OS 1:10560 (6"), published 1853

1850-52 survey, 1st edition OS 1:2500 (25"), published 1850-52

1893 survey, 2nd edition OS 1:2500 (25"), published 1894

1905 survey, 2nd edition OS 1:2500 (6"), published 1909


Printed Sources

Brown, H. 'Newhall on the North Esk, with its Artistic and Literary Associations', The Scottish Historical Review, vol XVI, no.63, April 1919

Groome, F. Ordnance Gazetteer (1882)

Ramsay, Allan The Gentle Shepherd (1899 edition)

Small, J. Castles and Mansions of the Lothians (1883)

The New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1845, Edinburgh

'Newhall House', Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, 1925

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: Survey, July 1991

Scottish Natural heritage: Sites of Special Scientific Interest Survey, 1975

Young, D M. Newhall, A Study of Country Life in the Shadow of Edinburgh (1998)

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

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Printed: 04/10/2023 03:10