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Craighall Castle

House (18th Century), Tower (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Craighall Castle

Classification House (18th Century), Tower (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 33017

Site Number NO41SW 10

NGR NO 4077 1065

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NO41SW 10 4077 1065 to 4066 1062.

(NO 4077 1065) Craighall Castle (NR) (In Ruins)

(NO 4066 1062) Tower (NR)

OS 6" map (1920)

The Renaissance front of Craighall bears the date '1691'.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887

A charter dated 1507 by Andrew Kinninmond was signed at Craighall and the lands and house of Craighall were held by that family until sold to Sir Thomas Hope who built the present mansion in 1637, incorporating the older tower. The gate-tower to the SW bears the date '1637'.

A H Millar 1895

Craighall Castle. "This house has been built in at least two periods. The plan in its first stage, in the early 17th century, seems to have included a long, oblong main block, with a small projecting wing set almost midway on the north, and two symmetrical wings projecting southwards from the southern ends.

In the last decade of the century the recessed front was partly infilled with a screen having a tower to match the existing stair-tower which was then remodelled. In the pediment of the screen is a panel bearing the date '1697'.

The entrance has passed through a gate-tower which in two places is dated '1657' but which has subsequently been modified. This entrance lies among the farm-buildings, some of which date from the 17th century.


The tower was removed after the old granary was burnt down about 1954. The castle is likely to be demolished shortly owing to its dangerous condition (G Balfour, owner, Craighall).

The remains of Craighall Castle are as described above, except that part of the W tower has now fallen. The earlier parts of the building are of rubble masonry, barrel-vaulted, the walls being between 1.0m and 1.3m thick. No trace remains of the gate-tower, and a modern barn covers the site, but part of an old wall, 10.0m long by about 3.5m high and 1.0m thick, remains inside the barn, running N from the site of the tower. Visited by OS (DS) 18 October 1956

Craighall Castle has now been demolished and most of the stones removed. One portion of stone walling remains on the E side. The rest of the site consists of loose masses of masonry and stones covered by grass and rank undergrowth.

Revised at 25".

Visited by OS (WDJ) 27 May 1964

No change.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 29 March 1967

Architecture Notes


Dates: 1697

Renaissance front

Permission given to demolish this Category B Listed building between 1955-1957. Information taken from Demolitions catalogue held in RCAHMS library.



S.M.Y Magazine, September 1950 - photograph


Field Visit (31 May 1927)

Craighall Castle.

Behind the farm-house of Craighall, about three-quarters of a mile south-east of Ceres, the ruin illustrated in Fig. 132 [SC 757546] stands on a plateau sloping towards the west, where the entrance gate to the approach lies amidst farm buildings, some of which date from the 17th century. The entrance has passed through a gate tower, which in two places is dated 1657, but which has subsequently undergone certain modifications. The lower part has been a transe with a lofty archway at either end, the inner being plain, the outer elaborately treated with rusticated piers in the Renaissance manner. The panel-space above this archway is empty.

The house has been built in at least two periods, but in its present state is fragmentary, little more than the front remaining entire. The plan, in its first stage in the early 17th century, seems to have included a long oblong main block with a small projecting wing, set almost midway on the north, and two symmetrical wings projecting southwards from the southern ends. Attached to the more westerly of the latter, and within the re-entrant angle, is a stair-tower, which also contains the entrance. These parts are built in rubble and are indicated in black on the plan. Such windows as remain have a quirked edge-roll on the dressings and are provided with relieving arches; at the southern angles of the east wing turrets project on conoidal corbels, which have had an enriched upper member.

In the last decade of the century the recessed front was partly infilled with a screen having a tower of slight projection to match the existing stair-tower which was then remodelled to accord with the new work. In the pediment of the screen is a cartouche, set on a panel, dated 1697 at the top and having the motto, SPERO SUSPIRODONEC at the foot. The cartouche bears: A chevron between three bezants, for Hope. The new front is agreeably proportioned and was probably designed by Sir William Bruce. The lower part of the screen is built of channelled ashlar and has a central, arched doorway flanked by two square windows; above are two arcades each having three arches, the lower ones open arches, the upper ones closed by balustrades. A deep but slightly projecting entablature, supporting a segmental pediment, surmounts the whole. The rebuilt stair-tower and the corresponding later tower have also been surmounted by a balustrade, of which little remains to-day. These towers were probably roughcast, so that the traces of alteration in the western tower, now apparent, would be concealed.

The new entrance opened on a vaulted lobby, at the western end of which lay the old entrance and the stair, a new and similar stair being formed at the other end. All the basement chambers seem to have been vaulted. The arrangement of the upper floors cannot be determined in the ruinous state of the structure. In front of the house, where there has been a courtyard or garden, is a finely carved eagle holding a leveret in its left talon ; the height of the sculpture is 2 feet 4 ½ inches.

HISTORICAL NOTE. Sir Thomas Hope first baronet of Craighall, was Lord Advocate from 1626 till his death in 1646. His son Sir John, the second baronet, was raised to the bench in 1632 as Lord Craighall. Sir John's brother and successor, Sir Thomas, was also a judge. Sir Thomas Bruce Hope, sixth baronet, succeeded to his mother's estate of Kinross and sold Craighall in 1729. Cf. further, Inventory of Monuments, Midlothian, p. xli ; also Cast. and Dom. Arch., ii, p. 554.

RCAHMS 1933, visited 31 May 1927.

Photographic Survey (1957)

Photographic survey by the Scottish National Buildings Record in 1957.


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