Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.

Rosslyn Castle excluding scheduled monument SM1208, RoslinLB13026

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


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


This is a late 15th century castle with later additions and alterations. It is set around a courtyard and comprises the ruinous remains of late 15th century gatehouse and 16th century gateway to the north range; the remains of a late 15th century west range and rectangular plan tower; the east curtain wall and east range (built 1597) and modified and embellished in 1622; a later 15th century bridge, which was largely reconstructed in 1597 with substantial later repairs. The east range only is listed, the remaining elements designated as a scheduled monument (see separate designation record).

East Range: West (courtyard entrance) elevation: this elevation is a 2 storey, irregular 5 bay building with a single storey, single bay of the former hall to the outer right (southern end). The ruinous hall walls adjoin the building to the south and the curtain wall adjoins the building to the north. The range has moulded base and eaves courses, timber sash and case windows with a crowstepped gable to on the north end and a graded grey slate roof. The roof has ashlar chimneys at the either end and an additional set near the southern end. There is a delicately carved panel initialed "SWS" and dated 1622 to above the principal doorway with another carved niche above this. There is a small square window with carvings to the left of the doorway. A corbelled turnpike stairtower projects out at the northern end of the range; it has a carved leaded glass window between floors and other leaded glass window beneath the eaves. In the centre of the range is a large ornamental architraved window at ground floor level; above this an ornamental, triangular gabled 1st floor window which breaks the eaves; there is a heraldic device set above this window.

East elevation: this 5 bay elevation varies between 4 and 5 storeys with a projecting tower to the outer left.

South elevation: this elevation has a crowstepped gable with another lower gable adjoining below. There is a blocked roll-moulded doorway and 2 single windows at ground floor level with another blocked opening above.

Interior: the lower three floors are vaulted and connected to the upper levels by a scale and platt stair. There is timber panelling and a highly decorative coffered plaster ceiling (dated 1623) in the north room at courtyard level. There is another timber panelled room above this. There is a fine moulded and carved fireplace on the west wall of the roofless former hall at the south end of the range.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: scheduled monument SM1208 (see separate designation record)

Statement of Special Interest

This may have been the site of a medieval castle in the 14th century but the earliest surviving fabric dates to the 15th century. Much was the work was the responsibility of Sir William St Clair,1st Earl of Caithness, last Earl (Jarl) of Orkney, Baron of Rosslyn, and founder of the collegiate church of St Matthew (Rosslyn Chapel), although his father, Henry Sinclair, is believed to have constructed the southwest tower. The castle was burned by the Earl of Hertford, but rebuilt for the 5th Earl (William St Clair) in 1597 and embellished for his successor in 1622. The castle was 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 which are 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. The unoccupied parts of the castle are a scheduled monument (see separate designation record).

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: scheduled monument SM1208 (see separate designation record).

Statutory address revised in 2018. Previously listed as 'ROSSLYN CASTLE, INCLUDING BRIDGE'.



Grant .W. Rosslyn, Its Castle, Chapel and Scenic Lore, pp64-74

Groome, H (ed.) 1901. A graphic and accurate description of every place in Scotland. New ed., with census appendix 1901. Edinburgh: T.C. and E.C. Jack.

Macgibbon Ross D and T 1896.The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol I, pp366-376.

McWilliam C 1978. Lothian pp418-420

The New Statistical Account of Scotland 1845. 15 volumes. Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons. pp349-351.

Royal Commission on The Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (1929), pp106-112

Thomas J 1995. Midlothian RIAS guide 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 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.

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but 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. 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 advises on the need for listed building consent and they also decide what a listing covers. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 18/03/2019 20:06