Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 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. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 24259 71805
324259, 671805


15th century, remodelled in 17th century; 5-storey and attic L-plan tower house, now incorporated into Napier University (1961); pink sandstone rubble; some chamfered dressings; corbelled parapet with rounded unroofed bartizans to corners of main block, rounded at corners of wing, stone waterspouts; gabled attic storey in roof space and circular cap-house.

SE (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: modern entrance (1958-64) accessed by concrete dog-leg stair at 2nd floor to left, tall rectangular opening with round-arched moulded doorway and heraldic carved panel; single window under doorway; blocked up basement window; single windows to 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor to right bay, single window to left of centre at 3rd floor; round cap-house with conical roof above parapet to outer left; shouldered wallhead stack to right of centre.

NW ELEVATION: advanced wing to right with off-set string course at 2nd floor, attic storey with crowstepped gable and apex stack, on return bipartite window at 2nd floor and single window at 3rd floor, pedimented dormer in attic storey; ground and 1st floor of main block obscured by modern enclosed walkway, 2 single windows above.

NE ELEVATION: main block with single window at ground floor; bipartite windows to 1st and 2nd; 2 arrowslit windows above; crowstepped gable to attic storey with apex stack.

SW ELEVATION: 2-storey modern addition; single windows to ground and 3rd floor to right; attic storey with crowstepped gable and apex stack to right, pedimented dormer to left. Multi-pane timber sash and case windows; Scottish slate roof, 2 apex and 1 wallhead stack (see above). INTERIOR: former hall (now principal's room or study) with heavily restored late medieval fireplace with nook-shafts and moulded capitals, ornate 17th century plaster ceiling with central pendant and various motifs among them reliefs of King David and Alexander the Great; former fireplace recess, lockers and serving hatch of kitchen still visible in wing; board room at 3rd floor (encompassing 4th floor) with bolection-moulded fireplace, modern gallery and transplanted painted timber ceiling of 1581 from Prestongrange House, East Lothian; some moulded stone surround fireplaces on upper floors.

Statement of Special Interest

Scheduled Monument. A later gateway is listed separately under Colinton Road, Napier University, Merchiston Castle Gateway. Merchiston Castle was the birthplace of John Napier (1550-1617), mathematician and inventor of logarithms. The castle remained largely in the hands of the Napier family, influential in Edinburgh during the 15th and 16th century, until the early 19th century when it became Merchiston Castle School. Additions made then to the castle such as large side wings were removed during the extensive restoration and refurbishment of the castle in the 1960s.



RCAMS Inv 185; MacRae Her 31; MacGibbon and Ross, CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND, vol III, pp263-8; Gifford et al., EDINBURGH (1984), pp497-8; M R Apted, THE PAINTED CEILINGS OF SCOTLAND 1550-1650 (Edinburgh, 1966), III.41,42.

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. 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 legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

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 1997 Act. 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 subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 28/10/2021 09:56