Yester Castle And Goblin Ha'

Motte And Bailey, Tower House

Site Name Yester Castle And Goblin Ha'

Classification Motte And Bailey, Tower House

Alternative Name(s) Hobgoblin Ha'; Goblin Hall

Canmore ID 56062

Site Number NT56NE 1

NGR NT 5563 6668

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council East Lothian
  • Parish Yester
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District East Lothian
  • Former County East Lothian

Archaeology Notes

(NT 5563 6668) Yester Castle (NR) (Remains of)

Hobgoblin Ha' (NR) Subterranean Cavern (NAT)

OS 6" map (1957).

Not to be confused with Yester House (NT 54348 67161), for which see NT56NW 17.00.

Yester Castle is built on a slightly crescentic peninsula, with precipitous sides leading to Hopes Water on the E, and a tributary on the W. A ditch, 100ft wide from crest to crest and 20ft deep, at the S end, isolates the site from the mainland, while a second ditch, 30ft wide and 15ft deep, is cut across the N end.

The level portion of the site has been bounded by walls 6ft to 8ft thick, against which internal structures have been raised. These have mostly been levelled, though portions still stand on the N and E to a height of 40ft. The most prominent portion of the curtain wall still standing is the N side, complete for its length of 70ft, and 20 and 30ft respectively of the walls returning along the flanks. In the NE corner are the foundations of secondary buildings.

Within the enceinte, against and embodying the E curtain, is a range of building which has been three storeys in height and dates from the end of the 15th century. On the W of the enceinte are the remains of another range of buildings now only a few feet above ground, and from the most northerly of these, a stair leads down to the "Goblin Ha'", an oblong chamber 37ft by 13ft 2ins, built of ashlar.

At the S end, towards the W corner, the conformation of the debris would suggest that the curtains were originally strengthened by circular towers, but this, and other obscure points, can only be proved by excavation.

The "Goblin Ha'" may date from the 13th century and the western range was probably built towards the end of the 14th century, while the masonry of the enceinte walls would appear to be of 15th century date.

E of the site, a fragment of masonry, probably the central pier of a bridge, 12ft broad and 8ft thick, stands in the centre of the Hopes Water. The smaller stream is crossed by a bridge with masonry of considerable age, but by no means as old as the fragment, which might well be 15th century work.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887; RCAHMS 1924, visited 1915.

The 'Goblin Ha'' is the undercroft of a 13th century tower, reduced in height to make way for a later reconstruction of the castle lay-out. Originally it was partially dug into the mound of a motte. After the reduction of the upper works, the undercroft was covered over.

W D Simpson 1952; S Cruden 1960.

Yester Castle and Hobgoblin Ha' are generally as described; the interior of the castle is now heavily overgrown. The remains of the bridge pier are at NT 5566 6670.

Visited by OS (BS), 21 August 1975.

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