Scheduled Monument

Craigmillar Castle,castle and gardensSM90129

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Industrial: mines, quarries, Secular: castle; garden
Local Authority
NT 28742 70783
328742, 670783


The monument consists of Craigmillar Castle and its surrounding designed landscape. Craigmillar is arguably the best example of a medieval castle surviving in Scotland. Built according to 15th and 16th-century principles of fortification, it is instructively complete and picturesquely placed within the remains of a substantial and important designed landscape.

The core is the late 14th century L-shaped towerhouse built for the Preston family, the owners of the land from 1374 to 1660. The original entrance was in the re-entrant angle of the jamb. Facing W, it was protected by a shelving pitfall in the rocky crags. The towerhouse consists of the usual offices, with storage in the lower floor and its entresol, the great hall forming the first-floor of the main block and fitted with a late 15th-century fireplace. In the jamb adjacent to the hall was the kitchen, later adapted as a bedroom.

The massive enceinte was built in 1427, flush with the tower on the S and enclosing the present inner courtyard. It has rounded towers at each of the corners and a parapet walk to the N, E and part of the S. The NE tower forms one of the earliest artillery batteries in Scotland. Within the courtyard domestic accommodation was built against the E wall after the burning of the castle in 1544 by Hertford's army and against the W wall in 1661 when Sir John Gilmour, the new owner, added his fine renaissance house to complete the internal buildings.

The outer curtain or precinct wall was built soon after 1544 and was furnished with gunloops but not battlements. Within the precinct is a chapel of late 15th-century date. There were the usual farmyard offices, one of which is said to have been used later as a Presbyterian meeting place.

The field S of the castle has a pond shaped like a 'P', no doubt for Preston. This is the most visible remnant of the medieval garden to survive, but around it were probably more formal gardens and later an elaborate designed landscape with parkland and coppiced woodland. Beyond the wall around the field containing the 'P' pond is an area of quarrying associated with the building of the castle, later incorporated within the designed landscape, providing an area of coppiced woodland.

The area to be scheduled includes the castle and those elements of the designed landscape that can still be seen or inferred, and is marked in red on the attached map. The area measures a maximum of 1020m SW to NE by 830m NW to SE. All modern fences and roads are specifically excluded from the scheduling, but all masonry walls, including those at the boundaries of the scheduled area, are included.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it is the most complete example of a medieval castle surviving in Scotland. Its historical interest is exceeded only by its importance as a major specimen of medieval military architecture, all set within an important series of gardens and historic and designed landscapes. It has the potential to provide information on all of the important elements of medieval life within a most important barony, which, because of its strength and proximity to Edinburgh was a favourite resort of the Stewart monarchs.



RCAHMS records the monument as NT 27 SE 107.00.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Craigmillar Castle

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Related Designations


    Designation Type
    Garden & Designed Landscape

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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Printed: 29/05/2020 01:21