Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

Niddry Castle (Lothian) - Past and Present

Niddry Castle has been referred to as a 'medieval high rise' and is well known to the thousands of travellers who can see it clearly from the windows of their train as they commute daily between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Niddry 1900
Niddry Castle c.1900 – note work to upper floors, now removed

A tall 15th century L-plan tower house on a massive scale, Niddry Castle sits upon a rocky knoll, surrounded by a barmkin with flanking towers. The impressive structure's appellation 'tower' does an injustice to Niddry – it is a major fortress competing comfortably in scale alongside Borthwick, Threave and Spynie.

In the 17th century Niddry Castle gained two storeys, further enhancing its imposing appearance, but this addition has been removed under current restoration work.

The site was long blighted by a massive spoil heap – the consequence of 19th century shale mining. This has been 'sold' under the condition that it is removed within a certain time period.

Niddry 1900 2016
LEFT: Niddry c.1900 next to Niddry Burn
RIGHT: Niddry in 2016 – note the spoil heap towering behind it

Lord Seton brought Mary Queen of Scots to Niddry on the 2nd of May 1568 after her escape from Loch Leven Castle and garrisoned it on her behalf during the ensuing civil war. In 1572 it was attacked twice – on one occasion the attackers, using scaling ladders, were repelled by heavy timber beams thrown from the tower.

Niddry 2014
Niddry Castle in 2014 – note the rocky knoll it sits upon
Niddry 2014 Barmekin
Niddry Caslte was visited by the Scottish Castles Association in 2014. Note one of the circular barmkin towers

In 1703 Niddry Castle's owners, the Hopes, vacated the property to move to a modern house after which it was allowed to fall into ruin until restoration began in 1968.

This has proved to have been a massive undertaking for one of our members but results to date are superb.

Article by Scottish Castles Association member Brian McGarrigle.

Added: 04 Jun 2019 Updated: 18 Jun 2019
Related articles (20)
Our corporate members...

Visit our Skills and Trades Section