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Country House (17th Century)

Site Name Kipps

Classification Country House (17th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Kipps House

Canmore ID 47914

Site Number NS97SE 11

NGR NS 98821 73921

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council West Lothian
  • Parish Torphichen
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District West Lothian
  • Former County West Lothian

Recording Your Heritage Online

Kipps, early 17th century

Ruins of a three-storey château, circular stair-tower at north-east angle and a rectangular one to south-west, in a commanding site overlooking the valley between Cockleroy and Bowdenhill. Home of Sir Robert Sibbald, 17th-century naturalist and antiquary, who relished its distance from any other seat of the gentry, so that it is a perfect solitude and without the ornaments of art, which other seats have, but has commendable advantages by nature's free gift.

Taken from "West Lothian: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Stuart Eydmann, Richard Jaques and Charles McKean, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press

Archaeology Notes

NS97SE 11 98821 73921.

(NS 98821 73921) Kipps (NR) (remains of)

OS 6" map (1968)

The house of Kipps in an oblong rubble-walled block, originally 3 storeys high, 59 1/2' E-W by 24 1/2' with a rectangular stair-tower at the SW angle, and a circular stair-tower projecting from the N. wall. The W part, including the stair, was the original house, which was built in 1625-6; it was extended to the E later in the century.

It is now (ie 1964) roofless, and very dilapidated, especially at the gable ends, having been unoccupied since the 1880s.

RCAHMS 1929, visited 1924; D MacGibbon and T Ross 1892; SDD List 1964

As described.

Visited by OS (JLD) 5 December 1952 and (JP) 13 August 1974


Field Visit (7 March 1924)


The ruin of Kipps (RCAHMS 1929, Fig. 247) stands in a farm-steading in a lonely position on a hillside 3 miles north of Bathgate. On plan the structure is an oblong block, measuring 59 ½ by 24 ½ feet [18m by 7.5m], and lying almost east and west, with a rectangular stair-tower at the southwestern angle and a circular stair-tower projecting from the north wall. The western portion including the stairs seems to have been the original house, which was being built in 1625-6 (en.1), the eastern portion being apparently an extension. The structure has been of three storeys. The masonry is of rubble with dressed quoins, and originally was harled; the windows and the external doors, where unaltered, have a bold edge-roll and quirk on jamb and lintel. The entrance is in the south wall, beside the stair-tower; the lowest rybats are original, the remainder and the lintel have been renewed. The entrance opens on a small lobby giving access to the south-west stair and two vaulted chambers. The western of these was the kitchen, provided with a large fireplace and slop-outlet; off the other chamber the north stair is entered, and through the stair-foot is reached the eastern part, which contains a single-vaulted chamber, latterly the kitchen, containing a large arched fireplace with a window behind it, an aumbry, and possibly a slop-drain and well. At the south-east angle is a door from the exterior. Both stairs are turnpikes provided with shotholes. The northern one led to all the floors, the southern to the first floor only. The original west gable does not rise above the basement, and the partitions on the upper floors have been of timber. Each of the upper floors probably comprised two rooms with a little chamber beside each gable flue. The north windows can hardly be traced, while those to the south, with one exception, have been altered. Some thirty years ago the house was roofed with pantiles and was inhabited; to-day it is roofless and in a very dilapidated condition. A farm building has been erected against the south wall, while the vaulting in the extension has fallen in places and is dangerous. Some years ago the southeast angle was struck by lightning.

Tombs of the Boyds of Kipps or Kips are in the church of the Preceptory at Torphichen (RCAHMS 1929, No. 379) (en.2). Robert Boyd of Kips, advocate, died in 1645, leaving only daughters (en.3). One daughter married David Sibbald, and their third son, Sir Robert Sibbald, physician, naturalist, and antiquary, whose work on Linlithgowshire is cited in several articles and who died in 1722, lived at Kipps for many years.

RCAHMS 1929, visited 7 March 1924

OS 6-inch map: v.SE

(en.1) Register of Deeds, vol. 393, fol. 185;

(en.2) Sibbald's Linlithgowshire, pp. 24, 25;

(en.3) Inquis. Spec., Linlith., Nos. 157, 158 (A.D. 1646)

Measured Survey (1924)

Basement and ground floor plans of the house at Kipps were surveyed by RCAHMS in 1924. The measured sketches were drawn up in ink and published in 1929 (RCAHMS 1929, fig. 300).

Aerial Photography (1983)


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