E (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: 6 radial steps leading to bolection-moulded door surround formed from earlier window, rounded corners with rosettes in spandrels; contains 2-leaf boarded timber door leading to entresol floor. To 1st floor left, small blind window to former mural chamber; placed high to centre, re-opened (circa 1986) medieval window; to right, larger window to 17th century Chalmer; upper of elevation blind. High corbelled parapet to left and right roofed to form covered walks to N & S elevations, central window to each walk. High central wallhead stack with later timber balustrade to flanks, forming open E wall walk.
N ELEVATION: central 17th century window to ground floor with original iron yetts from entrance and postern door serving as bars; upper portion of medieval arrowslit directly above; rest of elevation blind. High parapet, corbelled at angles and covered to form N wall walk; 3 regularly placed small windows with blind pistol holes (circa 1600, in-filled late 17th century) between, central wallhead stack.
W (REAR) ELEVATION: L-plan comprising main castle to left and centre, W wing adjoining to right. Main castle: former postern to re-entrant angle of ground/entresol floor with protective iron yett. Larger window above left to 1st and 2nd floors; small lower window to 2nd floor left lighting private stair; pistol loop above right and above main window (lighting safe room). High parapet, corbelled and covered at left corner forming W wall walk. W wing: blind elevation partially ruined to right and right return; to left return, small window to ground floor, single windows to 1st and 2nd floor with lower lesser windows to left; window to right of parapet walk with stone outlet of basin to left, remains of stone gargoyle to angle.
S ELEVATION: main castle to right with original entrance door to ground floor; irregular height paired windows to each floor above with smaller irregular windows adjacent to left; smaller squared windows to enclosed walk and gablehead. W wing to left, intact to 1st floor with central window; upper floors ruinous with later pitched roof protecting lower floors and much later diagonal walkway spanning upper floors. 8, 12 and 16-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows. Circa 1938 grey slate roof on open timbers; single-rafter construction with sole-plates and wall pieces; two collars (local slates originally from Stobo and Thornilee). Remnants of gablehead stack to S; tall harled wallhead stack to E and N; remnants of smaller stack to re-entrant angle.
INTERIOR: stone flagged mural entrance lobby; main turnpike stair with vaulted cell (possibly porter s lodge) opposite; adjacent barrel-vaulted chamber. Service stair. Prison pit with latrine accessed from upper hatch. 17th century entresol floor on timber joists. Scale-and-platt rising to upper floors, windows on S wall at landings; bottle-nosed treads, solid newel. Entresol level chamber in wing with earlier roll-moulded fire surround incorporating fleur-de-lis ornament in lintel. Various aumbrys and mural garderobes in chambers.
COURTYARD BUILDINGS: S range of buildings running from W to E and E range running S to N; linked to castle by N wall, E elevation of castle forming W wall. 17th and 18th century S range: remodelled in 1900, now forming keeper s cottage. Later 17th century E range: to left, originally single storey with upper level added during the 18th century, no interior features survive. To right, 3-storey range with ground floor originally a 16th century brew or bake house with later additions. Now lowered, thick stone screen wall (17th century) bounds courtyard to N.
ENTRANCE GATEWAY (TO NE ANGLE): circa 1672 gateway with semicircular head and rectangular hood-mould with carved stops; alternate carved (berries) and rusticated voussoirs. Keystone with ornamental pendant; carved relief showing coat of arms of the Earls of Tweeddale (a goat s head erased with coronet of five points)
FORMER WALLED GARDEN: random rubble whinstone wall to N of and running parallel to drive, wall continuing S-N at ends to meet boundary wall; later steps providing access to SW corner. Formerly garden and nursery, currently in use as a coach park. Avenue of yew trees (Taxus Baccata Neidpathensis) from circa 1654 follow length of wall.
BOUNDARY WALLS: coped random whinstone rubble wall following route of the A72; rest of lands open riverbank or much later field enclosures (fenced).
Statement of Special Interest
This castle was, for centuries, the residence of the Hays of Yester. In 1654, the Earl of Tweeddale (a distinguished statesman) enlarged the building, erected stables and constructed fine terraced gardens, the remains of which can be seen to the E of the castle. The tower is built on the L-plan, with a small wing to the side. The peculiar shape of the plan, with walls at oblique angles, probably arises from the nature of the site. The angles of the building and the parapet (without projecting bartizans) are all rounded. The original door was on the ground floor level and communicated with the upper floors by a turnpike stair in the wall, the entrance being the on the most precipitous side of the site, above the river. The tower was divided into two principal compartments in its height by a vault. There was also a vault near the level of the parapet and probably another vault carried the roof; each of the principal compartments being divided into two stories with wooden floors. The great hall was on the 2nd floor, immediately above the central vault. This tower was greatly altered in the 17th century, but it is interesting to see how it was rendered available for the requirements of that age without entirely losing its ancient character. A fore court is built on the E side, with a portion cut off to contain offices (and a keeper s house) and the entrance is through a gate in this elevation. The surrounding landscape is also of interest, across the river is South Park, with its outcrop named Artist s Rock - this was a popular location for landscape paintings of the castle. A flatter field nearby is called the Deer Park, and it was here that Cromwell s cannon was sited during the Neidpath siege, when the W wing was damaged.