Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Due to scheduled maintenance work by our external provider, background aerial imagery on Canmore may be unavailable

between 12:00 Friday 15th December and 12:00 Monday 18th December


Barnes Castle

Castle (16th Century)

Site Name Barnes Castle

Classification Castle (16th Century)

Alternative Name(s) The Vaults; The Vouts; Barney Vaults; Abbey Grange

Canmore ID 56299

Site Number NT57NW 27

NGR NT 52861 76551

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2023.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NT57NW 27 52861 76551.

(NT 5287 7655) The Vaults (NAT)

formerly Barnes Castle (NR)

(remains of)

OS 6" map (1968)

Barnes Castle: The ruins of a 16th c residence of unusual type - an example of axial planning. It is a rectangle 162'6" by 126'8" with the major axis NE-SW. Square towers project externally from the angles and between these are spaced intermediate towers - two on the NW, one on the SE, and one centrally on the SW. At the highest the walls are 14' but only the vaulted ground floor of the dwelling portion remains.

RCAHMS 1924, visited 1913

The remains of Barnes Castle, generally as described above, are in relatively poor condition and used as a farm store. The walls are of rubble masonry and average 0.8m in width.

Visited by OS (BS) 18 July 1975.


Field Visit (1 July 1913)

On the eastern shoulder of the Garleton Hills, 1 ¾ miles north-north-east of Haddington, are the ruins of a 16th century residence, unusual in type and an interesting example of axial planning (fig. 85 [plan]). On plan the structure is a great rectangle measuring 162 feet 6 inches by 126 feet 8 inches with the major axis lying north-east and south-west. Square towers project externally from the angles, and between these are spaced intermediate towers, two on the north-west, one on the south-east and one centrally on the south-west. The dwelling occupies the north-eastern part of the enclosure, and against the north-western wall are traces of a long range of building. The structure is built of rubble with freestone dressings and is now in the last stages of decay. The walls are some 14 feet at their highest, but only the vaulted ground floor of the dwelling portion remains and is now used as a general store for agricultural machinery and other impedimenta, which also litter the wilderness that was once the courtyard.

The entrance has probably led through a central tower on the south-western wall to the courtyard, from which the dwelling is entered by a central doorway admitting to a vestibule with a passage on either hand giving access to a range of vaulted, chambers on the east; at each extremity of these passages and running at right angles to them, two others communicate with a couple of wings projecting within the courtyard, with the projecting towers parallel to these, and with the buildings against the lateral walls. At the re-entering angles of the wings circular staircases are housed within square projections on either side of the main door. The basement apartment of the north wing has obviously been the kitchen; there is a wide fireplace in the east wall, adjacent to which a service hatch opens beneath the stair; on the other side of the passage a mural chamber is formed in the external wall. These apartments are all ceiled with stone barrel vaulting, whence the local name for the structure, the ‘Vouts’. The north-eastern projecting tower alone is roofed in this manner. In each of the side walls of the towers is a gunloop enfilading the walls.

HISTORICAL NOTE. The connection of the Barnes estate with the Seton family began with the grant by Robert Bruce in 1321-2 to Alexander de Seyton of the whole land near Haddington called" the Bemis" (totam terramque vacatur lie Bernis juxta Hadington)(1). In the person of John, second surviving son of George, seventh Lord Seton, the property was conferred on a cadet branch of the family. John served in Spain and returned to hold office in the household of James VI. ‘He made ane great building at the Barnes, Voult height, before his death,' intending that building bound a court’ (2). John Seton of Barnes died in 1594. From the character of the remains, the persistence of the name ‘the Vaults’, and the absence of any further reference to the building, it might be inferred that it was never carried further than the vaulted levels at which John Seton left it. George Seton of Barnes, the Jacobite Earl of Dunfermline, sold the estate in 1715 (3).

RCAHMS 1924, visited 1 July 1913.

(1) Reg. Mag. Sig. i., p. 452; (2) Hist. of Seyton Maitland Club p. 61; (3) Family of Seton ii.,p. 628. I


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions