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The Scottish Castles Association
Preserving the Past for the Future

SCA Castle Tour to the River Forth - April 2014


The spring trip was based at South Queensferry to view castles of Lothian thanks to our President, John Hunter, in his last year of office. Thank you John from all the members of the SCA.

Almond Castle

Stands within a demolished brickworks and awaits development. It is a 15th century L-plan tower once surrounded by a ditch, vaulted on both lower and upper floors and with walls 7 feet thick. There have been extensive additions of the late 16th century now greatly ruined. The entrance is not at the re-entrant, but in one of the longer sides at first floor level and originally protected by a corbelled round. Below was the ground floor entry, rebated and barred, whose only connection with the above was via a hatch. The parapet rises flush with the wall and is drained by spouts. Of special interest is that some merlons are complete with arrow slits - unique in Scotland?

Almond

Almond Castle - a 15th century L-plan tower once surrounded by a ditch, vaulted on both lower and upper floors and with walls 7 feet thick

The hall windows have been enlarged and the walls of the kitchen have been ‘thinned out’ to create more space. A turnpike to the right of the entrance led to the first floor with a private chapel indicated by a piscina.

Almond was noted as ‘a neat house with a wood and fine gardens about it’.

Bridge Castle

An L-plan 15th century tower house with additions from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Bridge

Bridge Castle - an L-plan 15th century tower house with additions from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Formerly known as ‘Little Brighouse’ it was purchased in 1587 by the Livingstones and due to their Jacobite sympathies, shared the same fate as did Almond Castle.

Latterly a hotel the castle was converted into four properties in 1985.

Kinneil House

Kinneil is deceptive in appearance and it may come as a surprise to discover that it was in fact a massive tower house of 1553. This is best seen from the rear where wide mouth gun holes betray its origins.

Kinneil

Kinneil House was in fact a massive tower house of 1553

This tower was partly destroyed by gunpowder in 1570 by Regent Morton and replaced shortly afterwards by a new build a little to the north. In the 17th century the present central block was raised on the remains of the old tower and the wings extended.

Kinneil wall

View from the rear where wide mouth gun holes betray Kinneil House's origins.

In 1936 during demolition of the wing extensive wall paintings were uncovered and this was instrumental in saving it and it being placed under guardianship.

The surrounding parkland is Council owned and open to the public but the house is accessible only on special occasions.

Torphichen Preceptory

Dates from the 13th to the 15th centuries. Its ‘castle like’ appearance is often remarked upon and MacGibbon and Ross even included in their volumes on castles. The influence of the Knights Hospitallers, whose Preceptory this was, is sometimes sited, but has no basis.

Torphichen

Torphichen Perceptory dates from the 13th to the 15th centuries.

Niddry Castle

Is best know to travellers who glimpse it from the Glasgow-Edinburgh train. A massive, L-plan tower house of the 15th century, it rises from a rocky knoll through four storeys to a corbelled parapet. The sheer scale of Niddry takes one aback. In the early 17th century additional storeys (now removed) were added to make Niddry a real ‘high rise’. There is a courtyard flanked with round towers and signs of a walled garden.

Niddry

Niddry Castle - a landmark castle visible to travellers on Glasgow-Edinburgh trains

Niddry is among the finest of Scottish castles.

Illieston Castle

Roofless in 1856 but noted as ‘recently restored’ in the 1880s which laid a rather heavy hand on its upper works. Dating from around 1600 it consists of a main block with a central stair tower, corbelled out at the re- entrant. The interior has been modernised.

Illieston

Illieston Castle was roofless in 1856 but is now a modernised home

Used as a farm it is has now been converted into a home.

Linlithgow Palace

What needs be said about this world class monument? Look out for the newly refurbished fountain, the bullet holes on the walls, the superb fireplace in the great hall and the little oratory with its delightful vaulting.

Linlithgow

Linlithgow Palace is a world class monument and was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots

At present talks are ongoing re its possible re-roofing - see news item posted on web site.

Abbey House

Situated on the perimeter of the abbey precinct. It appears to have been built in the late 16th century and consists of a rectangular block three storeys in height. In the late 17th century it was altered to suit contemporary tastes.

Abbey

Abbey House was altered in the late 17th century to suit contemporary tastes.

Excavations were carried out in 1992 in advance of restoration. The findings were complex but it is sufficient to say that the nucleus was a small Z-plan tower house.

Pitfirrane Castle

A large tower house of 1437 with substantial alterations and additions of 1583 and from the late 17th century. More changes were made in the 19th century and again in recent years when it was converted to become the Club House of Dunfermline Golf Club.

Pitfirrane

Pitfirrane Castle - A large tower house of 1437 with substantial alterations and additions

It is the latter alterations which catches the eye but if a building is to survive it has to be of use. Members may satisfy themselves as to its merits.

Pitfirrane yett

Pitfirrane yett

Bordie Castle

The fragmentary remains of Bordie are incorporated into the buildings of Bordie Farm and is well known landmark to those on the road past Longannet Power Station.

Bordie

The fragmentary remains of Bordie Castle are incorporated into the buildings of Bordie Farm

It was an L-plan 17th century house of three storeys and attic. The surviving wing, with some windows and a fireplace, can be seen emerging from the roofs of the farm complex.

Duntarive Castle

A large 16th century mansion consisting of a main block, four storeys high with square towers rising a further storey attached to its northern angles. It was abandoned in the 1840s and allowed to ruin.

Duntarive

Duntarive Castle was abandoned in the 1840s and allowed to ruin

In the late 20th century restoration began but in 1995 part of the east tower fell after which all work was suspended. In 2009 Duntarive was surveyed as part of a programme of refurbishment. The outcome is awaited.


Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle


Date posted: 15 Jan 2015Last updated: 15 Jan 2015