Merchiston Castle

Merchiston Castle
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Merchiston Castle

Located in Colinton Road in the Merchiston District of Edinburgh, some 1½ miles (2.5 km) southwest of Princes Street, is the early 15th Century Merchiston Castle. It was the birthplace and home of mathematician John Napier (1550 - 1617), inventor of logarithms. His family had acquired the castle in 1438. Merchiston is a five-storey L-plan tower-house with its entrance on the second floor. The lower floors were most-likely used for storage. The castle has a corbelled parapet on which Napier was said to stroll for inspiration. The castle was remodelled in the 17th Century and became the home of Merchiston Castle School between 1833 and 1930. It was subject to a major refurbishment by the City Architect's Department in the early 1960s at the time the surrounding buildings were being erected for Napier University. These modern buildings, which are by Alison, Hutchison & Partners (1961), dominate and entangle the poor old castle in a manner which today would be regarded as offensive. At the same time superb painted and plaster ceilings were created, with one installed having been removed from Prestongrange (East Lothian).

Interestingly the Edwardian blocks in Mardale Crescent immediately behind the castle are of reduced height because of the legal right of owners of the castle to view the hills of Fife across the Firth of Forth.

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