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Scotstarvit Tower

Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Scotstarvit Tower

Classification Tower House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Scotstarvet

Canmore ID 31509

Site Number NO31SE 28

NGR NO 37036 11271

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Ceres
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NO31SE 28 37032 11269

(NO 3703 1126) Scotstarvit Tower (NR)

OS 6" map (1920).


'Country Life' - text and photographs

October 16, 1942

(Undated) information in NMRS.

Erected 1627.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92.

Although the style of building might suggest an earlier date, the tower was erected in 1627. There was a tower on the estate of Tarvit in 1475.

A H Millar 1895

Scotstarvit Tower, though unoccupied, is in a state of perfect preservation. Five storeys and a garret in height, the building is L-shaped on plan, with a main block 33ft by 27ft, and a wing 7ft by 13ft.

A charter of 1579 mentions a tower existing on the barony of Tarvet, and an armorial panel bearing the date '1627' seems to be a later insertion, possibly referring to repairs or alterations.

RCAHMS 1933.

Scotstarvit Tower is as described above, and is in excellent condition.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 27 May 1964

No change.

Visited by OS (WDJ), 29 March 1967.


Publication Account (1987)

Scotstarvit is a well-preserved simple L-plan towerhouse of five storeys and an attic. It appears to have been built in the early 17th century for Sir John Scot and his first wife, Lady Anne Drummond. There may have been a previous tower on this site as a charter of 1579 mentions an existing tower on the barony of Tarvet.

Sir John purchased 'Tarvett' from Alexander Inglis in 1611, and in 1612 his lands in Fife were incorporated as the Barony of Scotstarvit. He was Director to the Chancery, the author of The Staggering State of the Scots Statesman and a keen antiquary. This last interest may explain the antiquated appearance of the building. The apparent existence of an earlier tower does raise some doubts, but Scotstarvit does not have the appearance of an early building converted at a later period but rather a late tower built to give the appearance of being older. It has a number of unorthodox features including a garret fireplace of extraordinary quality and incorporating the monogram of Sir John and Lady Anne with the date 1627. This same date and initials appear on the panel over the cap-house door. These date-stones are both linked to the attic storey and it may be assumed that Sir John used this as his private study affording him a degree of privacy and pleasant views on all four sides. Another unusual feature is the slender proportion of the chimney stalks.

There is no evidence for a kitchen within the house but a number of raggles in the east, south and west walls show that other buildings abutted the tower at some time in its history.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Fife and Tayside’, (1987).

Reference (February 2013)

Tower-house in typical L-plan, originally built for the Inglis of Scotstarvit in the 16th century (1550-1579) and much altered after the purchase of the lands of Scotstarvit by Sit John Scot in the 17th century. The original L-plan with turnpike stair was retained, but above the corbelled parapet Scot added a crowstepped gable attic and a lucarned conical roof over the stair. Internally the main block contains two tunnel-vaulted spaces, one above the other, each divided by an entresol. Above, a vaulted top storey and attic.

The tower stands at the end of a straight drive west of Hill of Tarvit West Gate on the north side of the rounded ridge which extends from Tarvit Hill. Scotstarvit Tower is one of the most complete examples of a Scottish tower-house.

Indicated on Blaeu’s map (1654) as Scottis taruett and Roy’s map (s.1750) as Scotstarvet Castle. Shown on the Plan of the Farm of Scots-Tarvet of 1770 with a projecting wing to the west, within a square garden enclosure, with tree planting to the south. Noted as ‘Tower in Ruins’ on Ainslie (1775) and Greenwood (1828).

Information from NTS


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