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- Category: A
- Date Added: 22/01/1971
- Local Authority: Midlothian
- Planning Authority: Midlothian
- Parish: Lasswade
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NT 28620 63677
- Coordinates: 328620, 663677
Dated 1638. 1638 restoration of earlier 15th century NE range; 1638 NW range; later 19th century attic and baronial stair tower. 3 storeys (on laigh floor) with garret, 5-bay castle style L-plan tower house with internal, triangular courtyard, built on a steep rock promontory above the River North Esk; ruinous castle keep to S angle; pink sandstone rubble with ashlar dressings. Band course and eaves course to SE elevation of NW range; round tower to N angle with string and eaves courses; crowstepped gables.
NE (ENTRANCE) RANGE:
NE ELEVATION: irregular 5-bay grouped 2-2-1, with keep to outer left and 2-bay crowstepped gabled block to right of centre. Architraved doorpiece with armorial pediment at ground in bay to outer left; timber, bossed door; window (half blocked) at 2nd floor; small garret window set below eaves above. Window at 1st floor in bay to right; window at 2nd floor; garret window above; wallhead stack, set between bays. 2-bay block to right of centre: window at ground in bay to left; window at 2nd floor; garret window (blocked) above. Window at ground in bay to right; window at 1st floor; garret window (blocked) above; gablehead stack above. Window at 1st floor in bay to outer right; window breaking eaves at 2nd floor above.
SW ELEVATION: 2-bay with keep adjoining to S. Architraved doorway with timber door at ground in bay to right of centre; window at 1st floor above. Window at each floor in bay to left. Segmental-arched with inset flat-headed doorway at ground to keep; deep-set (replacement) wrought- iron gate into barrel-vaulted recess.
NW ELEVATION: irregular 6-bay, grouped 2-1-2-1. 2-bay group to right of centre: Bipartite window at ground in bay to right; bipartite window at 1st floor; window at 2nd floor; small crowstepped gable above. Window at 1st floor in bay to left; window at 2nd floor above. Single-bay tower to left of centre; 2-leaf timber panelled door with strip fanlight at ground; window at each floor; conical roof with ball finial and weather vane above. 2-bay, crowstepped gabled group to outer left: window at 1st floor in bay to right; small garret window above. Window at 2nd floor in bay to left; gablehead stack to centre above. Window at ground and 1st floor in bay to outer right.
SE ELEVATION: irregular 7-bay. Raised, pedimented, large commemorative plaque at ground in bay to centre, with square commemorative plaque above; non-aligned window at 1st floor; non-aligned dormer window with monogrammed pediment above. Architraved and corniced doorpiece with armorial plaque above at ground in bay to right of centre; window at 1st floor above; dormer window with monogrammed pediment above. Window at ground in bay to penultimate right; window at 1st floor above; dormer window with monogrammed pediment above. Pedimented window at 1st floor in bay to outer right. Window at ground and 1st floor with monogrammed pedimented dormer window above in bay to left of centre. Part-glazed door at ground in slightly set back bay to outer left; window at 1st floor above. Tripartite French windows at ground to left (W) return; bipartite window at 1st floor; monogrammed and dated armorial triangular plaque to crowstepped gablehead above.
S RANGE: remnants of 15th century castle walls bordering sheer drop to valley below and closing third side of triangular courtyard.
Glazing patterns of various dates; some 18th century, with thick astragals, and a row of 19th century dormers; mostly 12-pane timber sash and case, with some 9- and 4-pane also; grey slate roof; slate to dormers; slate to tower; ashlar coped stacks; cast-iron rainwater goods.
INTERIOR: not seen, 1996.
WELLHEAD: circular wall surrounding well, sited in triangular courtyard facing the glen. Squared cream sandstone rubble.
DRINKING FOUNTAINHEAD: circa 17th century. Rectangular-plan fountainhead with carved armorial shield in pediment and obelisk finial above. Sited to E of main house. Weathered, droved pink sandstone with repaired plinth; hemispherical drinking cup to centre of square body.
OUTBUILDING: detached, single storey, 2-bay, square-plan crowstepped gabled shed to N angle of house. Raised architrave and boarded door in each bay to NE front. Boarded door set to right of SW elevation.
GATEPIERS AND BOUNDARY WALLS: square-plan ashlar gatepiers with cornice and pyramidal cap. Squared rubble walls with rounded cope.
Statement of Special Interest
Scheduled Ancient Monument; caves in glen beneath the catle also Scheduled; long, low tunnel with small sunken chambers along left hand side, one containing an iron gallery overlooking the well shaft from the courtyard above, and terminating in a 3-sided chamber lined with nest boxes carved into the walls forming a doocot.
The castle has always been reknowned for this warren of caves and a range of stories abound as to their purpose. Suggestions have been put forward that they provided shelter for Scots troops facing English attacks, and despite their probable Bronze Age origins, there is no definitive answer to their date or purpose.
Originally harled, until relatively recently in a strawberry pink colour, the present exposed stonework not being the original finish. William Drummond, the poet and son of Sir John Drummond who acquired the Barony circa 1600, restored the castle by 1638, his achievement marked by a plaque in the courtyard. This courtyard, partly shaped by the pecipitous drop to the River North Esk below, is entered through the 15th century NE range via a pend, closed to the outside by a 17th century door with some original fittings. The heraldic plaque of Bishop Abernethy, dated 1795 is set above. In 1990, Nicholas Groves-Raines installed a library into the base of the outwardly ruinous 15th century corner tower, adding to the many other alterations to which the castle has been subject over the years. During the mid-19th century, servants' accommodation was added, hence the appearance of dormer windows; at this time the baronial stair tower was added to the N also. The extreme W angle, jutting furthest out into the valley, has been recently restored and bears the date plaque 1995.
1st OSA (1744) p284; NSA (1843) pp330-332; appears on 1st edition OS map (1854); Groome, ORDNANCE GAZETTEER OF SCOTLAND (1892), p473;
D MacGibbon and T Ross, THE CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND, VOL4 (1896), pp173-176; RCAHMS (1929) pp112-114; C McWilliam, LOTHIAN (1978) pp248-249; J Thomas, MIDLOTHIAN RIAS GUIDE (1995) pp48-49, p54.
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