Rosslyn Castle

Looking through the gatehouse ruins to the east range with its crow-step gables. The five-storey east range was built into the cliffs above the River North Esk in the 16th century and the upper levels were renovated in 1622.


3 April 2012

Roslin, Midlothian

NT 27500 62827; 55.85315°N, 3.15964°W


Rosslyn Castle was built on a rocky promontory in Roslin Glen in a meander of the River North Esk. It is surrounded on three sides by the river; a ditch was cut through the promontory to afford protection from the north. The castle was first built in the early 14th century by the Sinclairs (St Clairs) — a family of Norman origin who had owned land in the Lothians since 1162.

The keep, of which only one wall now remains, was added in the late 14th or early 15th century and the castle was largely rebuilt in the 16th century after being destroyed by the Earl of Hertford in the War of Rough Wooing. The east curtain wall was replaced at that time by a five-storey range, built into the rock of the cliff side. Improvements to the upper levels of the range were made in 1622. The castle was again damaged in 1650 when it was assaulted by Cromwell’s troops led by his commander in Scotland, General Monck.

The castle is a Category A listed building and was inherited in 1977 by Peter St Clair-Erskine, 7th Earl of Rosslyn. The Earl and Countess renovated the upper part of the east range in the 1980s, which is now managed by the Landmark Trust and rented out as a holiday home. The castle is very close to the fabled Rosslyn Chapel — also built by the Sinclairs in the 15th century and currently the subject of ongoing restoration work.

Roslin Castle (Wikipedia);
Rosslyn Castle (Sinclair Genealogy);
Rosslyn Castle, Roslin (The Landmark Trust)

Detail of interior of the 15th-century west curtain wall

Ancient yew tree, reputed to be almost as old as the castle itself

A glimpse of the east range, restored in the 1980s and now leased through the Landmark Trust by the current owners, the Earl and Countess of Rosslyn, as holiday accommodation.

Window in one of the lower levels of the east range

Bays in the west curtain wall

East façade of the five-storey east range, built into the rocky promontory

Yew tree by the Old Guard House

Loophole, Old Guard House

The remaining rounded corner of the ruined rectangular keep built in the 14th/15th century at the southwest corner of the castle, showing some more recent brickwork repairs

Yew bole

Looking towards the ruined north range from the access bridge. The castle nestles in a meander of the North Esk, surrounded by it on three sides. A defensive ditch was cut into the promontory on the north, spanned by the 16th-century bridge which replaced an earlier drawbridge.

Postern gate in the west wall

Rounded exterior buttresses separating the bays in the west curtain wall

Below the access bridge

Remains of the entrance arch

East range


9 thoughts on “Rosslyn Castle

    • Thanks Lance. The ravages of time have fashioned such a wonderfully atmospheric place there. You probably can’t tell, but these images were captured in between gusts of wind of flurries of snow, which all added to the mood of experiencing the place.

  1. Fabulous photos, they blew my socks off. I love the photos where you emphasise the wear in the stone, as WW put so well in his comment above. Photos #2, #3 and #5 really do it for me but hey, they’re all brilliant. You really are the master of mono, Graham.

  2. You have an eye and a talent for finding the most interesting and beautiful details. This series of photos is enchanting. The yew bole, the postern gate, the rounded exterior buttresses, and the remains of the entrance arch caught me especially but all the others are just as intriguing. I always look forward to your posts.

  3. Oh, I see Lance, Ana, Davao, and Nitzus here. If they follow you, everybody ought to do the same. These are incredible images. I agree with Lance. The stuff of dreams!

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