Scheduled Monument

Preston Tower and DovecotSM774

Status: Designated


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


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Secular: doocote, dovecote, pigeon loft; garden; tower
Local Authority
East Lothian
NT 39014 74105
339014, 674105


This monument consists of the well preserved remains of a late medieval towerhouse and its associated garden and dovecot. The tower and dovecot were originally scheduled in 1936. The revision of the scheduling is intended to included the garden which surrounds them and the walls which define it.

The tower is L-plan with the outshot housing a separate stack of rooms, including a prison and pit, rather than a stair. The main block runs NW-SE with the outshot at the SE end of the SW wall. The main block consists of a vaulted basement with entresol level, a vaulted hall on the first floor and a large single chamber on the second floor. There are two further floors to the tower which are much lighter in construction. They date from the early 17th Century and their elaborate Renaissance detailing contrasts with the massiveness of the 15th-century construction below.

The tower sits within a 17th-century garden enclosure which extends about 100m to the N. It is roughly rectangular and has a fine gateway at its SE corner. At the N corner of the gardens is a dovecot, still roofed, which still has almost 1000 nesting boxes.

The tower was built in the 15th century by a branch of the Hamilton family. The great alterations of the 17th Century appear to be the result of works by Sir John Hamilton in 1626. The building was burnt by Cromwell's troops in 1650 but was repaired only to be burnt accidentally in 1663. It does not appear to have been reoccupied after this date.

The area to be scheduled includes all the above features. It is defined by and includes the boundary wall of the garden and measures approximately 110m NNW-SSE, by a maximum of 50m ENW-WSW, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it is the substantial remains of a late medieval towerhouse with elaborate Renaissance additions. The survival of the garden enclosure and related dovecot is rare. The monument is a good example of the Renaissance adaptation of earlier buildings and creation of policies. The site's archaeology has the potential to expand our knowledge of the construction, adaptation and use of such buildings over a period of several centuries.



RCAHMS inventory for East Lothian.

Map and grid ref 66 NT390741

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.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

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


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