Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 27475 62763
327475, 662763


Late 15th century; later additions and alterations. Set around courtyard, comprising: ruinous remains of late 15th century gatehouse and 16th century gateway to N range, modified 1690; remains of late 15th century W range and rectangular plan tower; 1597 E curtain wall and E range, modified and embellished in 1622; late 15th century bridge, largely reconstructed 1597 with substantial later repairs. Squared and coursed pink sandstone rubble.


W (COURTYARD ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: 2 storey, irregular 5 bay with single storey, single bay of former (2-storey, 3-bay) hall remaining roofed to outer right; ruinous hall walls adjoin to S; curtain wall adjoins to N. Moulded base course; moulded eaves course; crowstepped gable to N; carved paterae to architraves. Variety of glazing patterns to timber sash and case windows. Graded grey slate roof; 2 corniced ashlar gablehead stacks to N gable; ridge and gablehead stacks to S; cast iron rainwater goods. Delicately carved architrave with lintol initialled "SWS" and dated 1622 to principal doorway; boarded timber door with decorative iron hinges; architraved niche above doorway; single window above set hard under eaves. Small square architraved window to left of doorway; single window above set hard under eaves. Corbelled turnpike stairtower projecting in bay to outer left; architraved leaded glass window between floors; leaded glass window beneath eaves. Large architraved window at ground to centre of range; 1st floor window breaking eaves in finialled and pedimented dormerhead (right finial missing); heraldic device set in pediment. Single window to left, breaking eaves in cat slide dormer.

E ELEVATION: 4- and 5 storey, 5 bay with advanced tower to outer left. 2 bays to outer right, 5 storey, with outermost top floor window breaking eaves in dormerhead. 3 lower bays and tower to outer left roofless. Single window to each floor of each bay, increasing in size from lowest floor.

S ELEVATION: crowstepped gable with lower gable adjoining below. Blocked rol-moulded doorway and 2 single windows at ground; blocked opening above. Window set in crowstepped gable to outer left.

INTERIOR: lower 3 floors vaulted; scale and platt stair; timber panelling and highly decorative coffered plaster ceiling (dated 1623) to N room at courtyard level. Timber panelled room above. Moulded and carved fireplace to W wall of roofless former hall.


E ELEVATION: single wall remaining, comprising arcade of 6 barrel vaulted former window embrasures. Remains of tower with rounded SE angle to outer left.

W ELEVATION: rounded buttresses flanking blocked round-arched window openings.


Substantial fragments of NW and SE angles of former gatehouse, including springing of gateway arch.


Substantial late 15th century S pier with later round-arched bridge, probably reconstructed late 16th century, with W segmental arch at higher level and including deck and coped parapets. Curved abutments to N.

Statement of Special Interest

Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The castle was begun by Henry St Clair, the 1st Earl of Orkney, circa 1330, on the site of victorious battles against the English. However, the earliest remaining work is that of the 3rd Earl, dating from the 15th century. It was burned by Hertford, but rebuilt for the 5th Earl (William St Clair) in 1597 and embellished for his successor in 1622. Sold in 1735 to James Sinclair and passed to James Patterson in 1762 and then to Sir James Erskine of Alva; he succeeded as the Earl of Rosslyn in 1805.

The service levels cut into the rock to the rear, are virtually identical in plan and are connected horizontally by a series of corridors and vertically by communication tunnels in the vaults of the end rooms. Further, large tunnels at the foot of the stairs appear to have accommodated some kind of hoist. By the 18th century the castle had become derelict. The most recent scheme of repairs was undertaken, 1982-1988, by Simpson and Brown architects, and the Castle is now let as holiday accommodation, through the Landmark Trust, for the present Earl of Rosslyn.



NSA (1843) pp349-351; appears on 1st edition OS map (1854); Groome, ORDNANCE GAZETTEER OF SCOTLAND (1892), p258; D MacGibbon and T Ross, THE CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND (1896), pp366-376; ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE ANCIENT AND HISTORICAL MONUMENTS OF SCOTLAND (1929), pp106-112; W Grant, ROSSLYN, ITS CASTLE, CHAPEL AND SCENIC LORE (no date), pp64-74; C McWilliam, LOTHIAN (1978) pp418-420; J Thomas, MIDLOTHIAN RIAS GUIDE (1995) pp57-58.

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 25/05/2018 05:52