Scheduled Monument

Hailes CastleSM13330

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Secular: castle
Local Authority
East Lothian
NT 57481 75769
357481, 675769


The monument is Hailes Castle, which dates originally from the 13th century, was remodelled in the 14th-15th centuries, and remained in use until Cromwell's invasion of SE Scotland in 1650. It is visible as a ruinous masonry castle standing mainly to wallhead height, comprising a keep to the E, a tower with courtyard and ancillary buildings to the W, and a substantial three-story block with attic. A curtain wall protects the landward approach. The monument is situated on the S bank of the River Tyne at about 30m OD. The monument was originally scheduled in 1928, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

The earliest part of the castle, dating to the 13th century, occupies the eastern half of the site and is represented by red sandstone ashlar work. This forms the lower storeys and pit prison of the keep and the basement of a well tower a little to the E. The upper part of the keep is of grey rubble construction and represents a later rebuilding or addition. The ditch which encircled the later curtain wall, but was subsequently filled in, may also date to this period. The tower, constructed of rubble masonry, dates to the 14th-15th centuries and comprises a storage basement, including a pit prison at ground level, a hall on the first floor and private chambers above. It overlooks a courtyard and various ancillary buildings, the footings of which are still visible. The curtain wall also belongs to this building phase. Between the tower and keep is a sizeable three-storey structure with attic, probably of 15th-century date, that has been substantially altered over the years. Ovens and a stone trough suggest that the basement was used as a service area. A possible piscina and sacrament house in the N and S walls suggest that, at some point, the upper storey may have functioned as a chapel. The remains of further buildings and a 'castle toun' may survive to the S.

Hailes was held by the Hepburn family for over 200 years from the mid 14th century, the last of whom was James, 4th Earl of Bothwell, who instigated the plot to murder Darnley, second husband of Mary Queen of Scots. After her abduction near Edinburgh by Bothwell in April 1567, Mary rested at Hailes on her way to Dunbar Castle. The earl became the Queen's third husband.

The castle was abandoned following Cromwell's invasion of Scotland in 1650, but re-occupied by tenants of the Dalrymple Estate in the 18th century. At a late period, the interior of the tower was converted into a dovecot.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan to include the remains described above and an area around them in which evidence for the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes: the above-ground elements of all modern boundary walls, fences and signage, and the top 300mm of all modern paths to allow for their maintenance.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as a medieval castle that can make a significant contribution to our understanding of medieval fortified residences and expressions of status and wealth. The monument survives in excellent condition. The 13th-century keep is a particularly rare survival and the later tower and curtain wall are remarkably intact. The monument represents an important component of both the medieval and contemporary landscapes. Analysis of the upstanding remains and the buried archaeological deposits can provide information about the construction, layout and development of the castle, and evidence for the daily life, trading contacts and economy of the occupants. The monument is also of national importance for its historical associations, particularly with James, 4th Earl of Bothwell, and Mary Queen of Scots. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our ability to understand the form, function and character of medieval defensive residences in Scotland.



RCAHMS records the monument as NT58NE 5. East Lothian HER records it as MEL808.


Baldwin, J R 1985, Exploring Scotland's Heritage: Lothian and the Borders, Edinburgh, 83, no 42.

Ewart, G 2003, 'Hailes Castle (Prestonkirk parish), watching brief', Discovery Excav Scot 4, 62.

MacGibbon, D and Ross, T 1887-92, The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, 5v, Edinburgh, 1, 122-7.

McWilliam, C E 1978, Lothian except Edinburgh, The Buildings of Scotland series, Harmondsworth, 246, pl. 2.

RCAHMS 1924, Eighth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of East Lothian, Edinburgh, 61-7, no 147.

Richardson, J S 1948, Hailes Castle, East Lothian , Edinburgh.

Robertson, A N 1952, 'Supplementary list of East Lothian dovecotes', Trans E Lothian Antiq Fld Natur Soc 5, 62.

Simpson, W D 1948, 'Hailes Castle', Trans E Lothian Antiq Fld Natur Soc 4, 1-10.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Hailes Castle

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About Scheduled Monuments

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.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

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