Listed Building

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

Sundials, Craigiehall, South QueensferryLB5559

Status: Designated


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Group Category Details
100000019 - See notes
Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 16785 75439
316785, 675439


A 17th century red sandstone obelisk sundial is situated to the east of the entrance elevation of Craigiehall House (NT16785 75439). This sundial sits on a wide, round stone base and consists of a square plinth, a moulded base, a globe, a 4-sided shaft capped by a polyhedron dial and a later sandstone tapered capital. The shaft is divided into 16 square panels, some of which have incised shapes. The dial above has four faces with hollowed out shapes.

An early 18th century cream sandstone, horizontal sundial is situated to the west of Craigiehall House (NT16611 75418). It dates to between 1703 and 1714 and consists of a carved, octagonal pedestal with a horizontal brass sundial plate with decorative gnomon on top. The sundial is engraved with the arms of the Marquis of Annandale, and with the inscription, 'made by England, Instrument Maker to Her Majesty at Charing X, London'.

Statement of Special Interest

These two sundials dating to the 17th and early 18th century are important surviving elements of the Craigiehall estate which retain some of their characteristic features. The obelisk sundial is one of only 25 such sundials which remain and whose form is unique to Scotland. Situated to the front of Craigiehall house it is a striking feature in the wider landscape of the estate. The two different types of dial help our understanding of the importance of visual decorative structures and also of the study of mathematics and timekeeping to the 17th and 18th century landowners.

Age and Rarity

The first edition Ordnance Survey map, published in 1856 shows the position of two sundials to the south of Craigiehall house. It is reported by Innes (1996) that the 17th century obelisk sundial was found in 1965 in a field to the south of the house, broken into several stones and enclosed by railings. It was then restored and placed at the entrance front of Craigiehall house to the east as a focal point. Dating from the 17th century, the sundial is one of only two structures on the estate that predates the current house, which was built in 1699 by Sir William Bruce and is listed at category A (LB45432). The other early structure is the Doocot (LB5560). MacGibbon and Ross (1871) note that the obelisk was probably altered in the 18th century when it was set into its current base. The shaft of this type of sundial usually had 5 rows of faces, but this one at Craigiehall only has four and it is suggested that because of its 18th century alteration, the shaft was pushed deep into the globe, losing one of the rows.

The other, horizontal sundial on a carved stone base which now lies to the west of Craigiehall House can be dated by the inscription to between 1703 and 1714. John England, mentioned as the maker of the sundial, was a mathematical instrument maker working at Charing Cross between those dates, in the reign of Queen Anne. This sundial has also been moved into its present position, but the date of this is not known. Hopetoun House (LB613), built at the same time as Craigiehall and which shared many of the same craftsmen, including the architect Sir William Bruce, has a very similar sundial.

Sundials became fashionable in country house gardens in Scotland during the 17th and 18th centuries, both as decorative structures and as time keeping devices, as the science of gnomics (or art of dialling as it was commonly known) became increasingly popular. Horizontal dials were the most common, with a single gnomon, and an engraved dial with hours, and perhaps the sun's movement in the zodiac. The dial at Craigiehall has both hours and months marked. Structures with multiple dials are found throughout Britain, but the tall obelisk sundials are unique to Scotland and are very complicated mathematically. Daniel (2008) suggests that it was the particular interest in mathematics that Scotland exhibited that made these complex sundials popular. There are only 25 known to still be in existence. The earliest one is thought to be at Drummond Castle in Perthshire, dated 1630 (listed at category A, LB19883).

The current Craigiehall Estate dates predominantly to the construction of Craigiehall house, completed in 1699, by Sir William Bruce for Sophia, Countess of Annandale and her husband, William, Earl of Annandale. There had been an earlier tower house on the estate which was replaced with the current house.

The Earl of Annandale's son James took over the estate in 1715. In 1741, the estate was bought by the Hope-Weir family, who were connected to the estate through the marriage of the Earl of Annandale's daughter, Lady Henrietta Johnstone to Charles Hope, 1st Earl of Hopetoun. The Hon Charles Hope (later Hope-Weir) had completed a Grand Tour of France and Italy with Robert Adam and on his return in 1754-5, had ideas for some improvement at Craigiehall, particularly in the grounds, gathered from his tour. He planted trees along the River Almond and constructed Craigiehall Temple (1759, LB26928), Craigiehall Bridge (1757, LB5563), the Grotto and Bathhouse (circa 1755-60, LB5562) and an ornamental lake, around 1760.

Craigiehall was sold in 1933 to the 5th Earl of Roseberry, who owned the neighbouring Dalmeny estate and who bought it for his son. His son was killed in action 1917 and the estate was eventually let in 1926 to James Morton, who was a textile merchant in Edinburgh. The house became a hotel and country club in 1933. Following requisitioning by the Army in 1939 it was bought by them in 1951.

The listing criteria state that the older a building is and the fewer of its type survive the more likely it is to present special interest. All buildings erected before 1840 which are of notable quality and survive predominantly in their original form have a strong case for listing.

The two sundials at Craigiehall dating to the 17th and 18th centuries are early examples of their type, retaining a number of design features characteristic of their early date. They continue to form an important component of the former Craigiehall estate.

Architectural or Historic Interest



Plan form


Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

The stone pedestal and brass sundial plate of the horizontal dial are standard materials for a garden sundial of the 17th and 18th centuries. The decorative carving to the pedestal shows its original function as both a time keeping device and also a garden ornament.

The obelisk type sundial traditionally has 3 parts: the square shaft with an octagonal-shaped capital and then a tapering finial above. The shaft is commonly divided into 5 horizontal sections, with a face on each side, and many of the compartments are hollowed out with different geometric shapes and some have gnomons inserted into them. Often, the shapes have lines etched out in them which mark out the hours, as the edge of the shape casts a shadow over the lines. It is not unusual for some of the faces to be left blank, or to have coats-of-arms carved into them.

The capital also has a number of square and triangular faces, some again with hollowed out shapes and the tapering finial sometimes had shapes carved into it, or lines across it.

The sundial at Craigiehall has some hollowed out faces to the shaft and capital, but no gnomons survive. Other similar sundials have more decorative markings and surviving gnomons, including the sundial at Kelburn Castle (listed at category A, LB7298). The sundial at Craigiehall has been repaired, as noted above and some of its detail has been lost. However, its survival as a 17th century obelisk sundial is rare and these structures are an important part of our understanding of the 17th and 18th century Scottish interest in mathematics and timekeeping.


Although not in their original positions, the sundials at Craigiehall are situated within the former estate policies, and are part of a group of associated estate structures which, although affected by later development primarily to the north, still informs innovative late 17th and early 18th century ideals in landscape design. The built components of the group currently include Craigiehall house (LB45432), the walled garden (LB45433), the former stable court (5561), the doocot (LB5560) and the grotto (LB5562).

The majority of the estate to the north has been taken up by the various additional buildings constructed for the military headquarters since the 1950s.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2016).

The 2nd Earl of Annandale, and later the Hope-Weir family are closely associated with Craigiehall.

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2016. Previously listed as 'Craigiehall, Sundials'.



Canmore: CANMORE ID 254435 & 50410


Ordnance Survey, (Surveyed 1854-5, Published 1856) Linlithgowshire Sheet 7. 6 Inches to the Mile map. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Printed Sources

Cowan, D. (2008) In the Footsteps of Thomas Ross. Part 2: The Sundials at Craigiehall. British Sundial Society Bulletin Volume 20(iv) pp 8-10.

Daniel, C. St J. H. (2004) Sundials. Princes Risborough: Shire Publications Ltd.

Gifford, J. et. al. (1988) The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh. London: Penguin Books. p.592.

Innes, C.B. (1996) Craigiehall; The Story of a fine Scots Country House. Limited Edition.

MacGibbon, and Ross (1902) The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol V. Edinburgh: David Douglas. p.412 & 498.

Somerville, A.R. (1987) The Ancient Sundials of Scotland. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Volume 117 pp233-264.

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Sundial at east of Craigiehall House, South Queensferry looking east, om sunny day with blue sky
Sundial to west of Craigiehall House, South Queensferry, looking northwest, on cloudy day with cloudy sky.



Printed: 22/05/2018 10:42