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- Category: A
- Date Added: 12/01/1971
- Local Authority: Fife
- Planning Authority: Fife
- Burgh: Dunfermline
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NT 9133 85957
- Coordinates: 309133, 685957
Earlier 17th century; 3-storey and attic; L-plan; laird's house (dated 1623) with early 20th century single storey addition to re-entrant; slender square-plan full-height tower to E (W wing of slightly lower height). Scottish Renaissance design with crowstepped gables, apart from to that to S (which is finely coped); pedimented windows to principal (S gable/re-entrant) elevations; unusual canted stairtower with 3 exposed faces and parapet of carved letters. Sandstone ashlar to re-entrant elevations and S gable; coursed sandstone rubble elsewhere. Band courses above ground floor and 2nd floor cill band to principal elevations. Roll-and-hollow moulded architraves to windows to principal elevations and to W gable end and 1st floor and above of E tower; 1st floor windows and above are pedimented (and mostly finialled, principally with thistle, fleurs-de-lys and rose motifs) to principal elevations, apart from small 2nd floor window to S re-entrant and top stage of stairtower.
S ELEVATION (INCLUDING RE-ENTRANT): S gable end projects to right of principal elevation; window to each floor; only thistle finial remains of pediment of that to 1st floor; those to floors above have decorated tympana. Single storey addition adjoins to left; entrance with cavetto-moulded reveal to right; 2-leaf panelled timber door; small mullioned bipartite to left; window to outer left. W wing set back; pair of windows to right of 1st and 2nd floors; tympana to those of 1st floor, decorated respectively with figure (possibly an angel) with harp and torso of Jacobean man; panel in between inscribed (in Hebrew) ' The Lord hath chosen them that fear him'; breaking-eaves dormer to left of 2nd floor. Scrolled panel to right face of lower stage of canted stairtower at re-entrant (above original main entrance) dated 1623; scrolled cartouche below inscribed in Hebrew with Latin equivalent 'VAE AEDIFICANTI DOMUM SUAM INIUSTITIA' (Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness'). Window with decorated tympanum to outer faces of 1st and 2nd stages of stairtower (those to left have been blocked); one of those to right flanked by initials W.M.; blank panel to lower stage of central face. Window to each face to top stage; balustrade of carved letters above reads 'NI DEUS AEDIFICET DOMUM'('Except the Lord build the house'); panelled stone conncecting pair of tall stacks to N side of stairtower inscribed in Hebrew with Latin equivalent 'HOC QUOQUE VANITAS EST ET MALUM MAGNUM' ('This also is vanity and a great evil'). Window to each of 1st and 2nd floors to left return of S wing; only rose finial remains of pediment of lower one.
E ELEVATION: slender square-plan gabled tower to left of centre; corbelled out very slightly over ground floor; small window to each of upper floors; enlarged window with plain architrave (formerly door) to ground floor; identical arrangement to left and right returns with gable-headed breaking-eaves dormers to attic (that to right return has been blocked and had gable removed; 1st floor window blocked on this side). Narrow bay set back to left; architraved window to each floor. Gabled double bay set back to outer right; modern steps up to architraved entrance (formerly window, now with part-glazed timber door) to left of 1st floor; small architraved window to left; architraved window to each of remaining bays to 1st and 2nd floors; small architraved attic window to right of gable.
N ELEVATION: 3-bay; large regularly disposed window to each bay to 1st floor; those to left are architraved; that to right has droved and stugged suround. Later lean-to porch with entrance to left return between 1st and 2nd bays; window to left and 3 to right of ground floor (mainly later/altered with droved and stugged surrounds). Blocked former breaking-eaves dormer to left bay of 2nd floor; pair of breaking-eaves dormers at base of shaped nepus gable to off-right of centre bay. Early 20th century single storey outbuilding projects to outer right; gabled bay with curved skewputts and triple (almost Palladian) window arrangement (with short upper light above central one) to left; lower-height piended-roofed auxiliary block to right; single window to left.
W ELEVATION: gable end of W wing projects to left; window to right of 1st and 2nd floors; largely obscured at ground floor by early 20th century outbuilding set forward to left. 3-bay flat-roofed section to right of outbuilding (entrance with panelled timber door to right return); single bay to gabled section to left (short upper light to gable to right return); lower-height piended-roofed auxiliary block projects forward to outer left; 3 entrances (with original panelled timber doors) to right return. Early 20th century single storey addition adjoins gable end of W wing to right; window to outer right; wall projecting to left adjoins garage. W elevation of S wing and stairtower set back (see S elevation).
Multi-pane timber sash and case windows throughout. Grey slate roofs. Decorative triple gablehead stack with band course to S wing; similar double wallhead stack to tower at re-entrant between 2 main wings; tall nepus stack with band course and shaped gable to N elevation; gablehead stacks to each of remaining 3 gables; ridge stack to S wing; all corniced and with band courses (mainly later/upper courses rebuilt); round cans where in existence.
INTERIOR: retains original turnpike staircase (moulded entrance at foot originally main entrance in S face of tower and moved back to this position when early 20th century addition constructed). Some early carved stone fireplaces with roll-and-hollow moulded surrounds to E tower and one large segmental-headed one in kitchen. Later 17th century stone fireplace carved with festoons in sitting room in single storey extension (said to have been brought over from Culross Abbey House in Culross). Oval foliate plaster band in 17th century style to 1st floor drawing room ceiling also probably early 20th century; salvaged marble fireplace with flanking Ionic columns and paterae in same room installed mid-20th century.
WALLED GARDEN: tall rubble wall encloses garden to N of house on 3 sides and continues to E.
GATEPIERS: pair of square-plan gatepiers (probably early 19th century) at entrance to drive on Limekilns Road; V-jointed ashlar chamfered at arrises and corniced to outer faces; coursed sandstone elsewhere; pyramid caps; cornices continue as coping to angled wing walls; pedestrian entrance to that to left. Minor set of later square-plan droved sandstone ashlar gatepiers with band courses and pyramid coping to SW of house.
Statement of Special Interest
A fine intact earlier 17th century laird's house in the court style popularised by the King's Master of Works, James Murray of Kilbaberton. The principal ashlar-fronted elevations are of a particularly high standard and contain some very interesting original carvings, including the figure of a man and one (possibly an angel) playing a harp. The open stonework lettering forming a balustrade at the top of the stairtower is particularly unusual and is thought to have been the inspiration for that surmounting the crossing tower of William Burn's New Abbey Parish Church in Dunfermline (which reads 'King Robert the Bruce'). The initials W M over the former main entrance probably indicate William Monteith of Randieford, who acquired the lands of Hill in 1624. The single storey additions were added in 1912 by F W Deas. The interior appears to have been partially refurbished at the same time. Two fireplaces (one dated 1669) said to be from Culross Abbey House were installed (the dated one being later returned to Culross Abbey House). By the mid 18th century the property had become part of the Elgin Estate. It was inhabited by the Mitchell family in the late 18th/early 19th century and by the mid 19th century it had become the residence of workmen, before being refurbished and restored to single occupany in the early 20th century. See separate list description for remains of windmill in grounds.
John Ainslie, COUNTY OF FIFE MAP (1775); Rev Peter Chalmers, HISTORICAL AND STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF DUNFERMLINE (1844) pp 325-26. Thomas Ross 'Hill House, Dunfermline' in TRANSACTIONS OF THE EDINBURGH ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION VOL VII (1912) pp91-93; RCAHMS, INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTIES OF FIFE, KINROSS AND CLACKMANNAN (1933) pp123-24; Nigel Tranter, THE FORTIFIED HOUSE IN SCOTLAND, VOL II CENTRAL SCOTLAND (1963) p43; John Gifford, FIFE in the 'Buildings of Scotland' series (1988) p239.
Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.
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