north of the ancient market town of Haddington behind the Garleton hills
sits the ruin of Garleton castle, with an intact crow stepped gabled
hall-house, a row of modern cottages which incorporate earlier castle
material (including 16th century cannon-loops) and the remains of a drum
tower with three basement vaults set into an angled wall. L-plan
in form, these vaults which suggest the distribution of weight from
several levels above, are all that remain of the castle raised in the late 1500's by Sir John
Seton (treasurer of the household and Lord of Session under King James
VI of Scots 1567-1625) on land originally owned by the "Lyndsay" family of
nearby Byres castle. Locally the Lindsays also held Luffness castle
beside Aberlady and lands around
which the latter was signed over to the Cockburn family.
Garleton incorporates fabric from an earlier Lindsay tower on
the site, and rubble taken from Byres castle, as it
appears to have been dismantled by the English in 1548 to ensure the
security of their 'Fortress of Haddingtoun' during the wars of the
'Rough Wooing' (1544-1550), where by the use of castle-sacking they hoped to
force the marriage of the infant Mary Queen of Scots to the
English Prince Edward.
The Seton family suffered heavily during these
times with the burning of Seton Palace, Seton Collegiate church, St.
Germains House, Tranent Tower, and the
Castle and other
properties in 1544.
Garleton was acquired by George, 7th Lord
Seton and passed to his 3rd son, Sir John Seton who had assisted his
father in his Diplomatic post in France and was was then sent to service
for the King of Spain.
The 1st Sir John Seton of Barnes, Baron of
Barnes and Lord Barnes, rebuilt the Castle of Garleton as it remains
now, with a completed formal courtyard, while he was waiting on his more
elaborate castle at Barnes to be completed. As he died in 1594
prior to the completion of Barnes, and Garleton Castle passed to his
older brother, Robert Seton, 8th Lord Seton and later 1st Earl of Winton, who passed it to his
2nd son George Seton (later 3rd Earl of Winton), who passed it to his
own younger son, the Hon. Sir John Seton of Garleton and 1st Baronet of
Garleton, and hence founding the 1st of the branch known as the Seton's
In 1724, following their forfeiture of
1715-16, the Seton branch being somewhat impoverished, sold Garleton to the Earl of Wemyss. The presence of the modern
cottages on site highlights the common practice of Victorian builders to
dismantle such ancient towers as Garleton viewing them as ready made
quarries failing to appreciate their historical and architectural value.