The History of Garleton Castle|
Originally the Lands of Garleton were a possession of the
Lindsay family, though they were acquired by the Lords Seton during the latter
part of the 16th century.
It may be that Sir David Lindsay, author of the play Ane Satyre of the Thrie
Estaitis, was born in a house on this site in 1486.
Garleton is an example
of a courtyard castle and originally consisted of three blocks within a curtain
wall. It is one of the chain of castles stretching from
the coast at Aberlady through
the valley floor.
After the Lindsays, the
property was briefly owned by the Towers of Inverleith, but they sold it to the
Seton family. George, 7th Lord Seton acquired Garleton, as well as various other
lands in the area, which were bestowed upon his 3rd son, Sir John Seton of
Barnes, the diplomat at Philip II of Spain's court and Master of teh Royal
Household and also of the Royal BedChamber, and later James VI's Treasurer of
the Household and a Lord of Session, and who died in 1594.
He was responsible for
rebuilding the castle as we know it and which survives today, using stone from
which was destroyed in 1548. His
descent also later owned Hailes Castle
in East Lothian. Hailes was reduced to ruins by Cromwell in 1650, and
thereby remained as such.
was built as it is now, after 1550 and before Sir John Seton's death in 1594.
It is now a ruined castle on the northern slopes of the Garleton Hills in East
Lothian, located at East Garleton, 2 miles (3 km) north of Haddington. The
courtyard castle once comprised three blocks enclosed by a curtain wall. A small
section of that wall and parts of one of its round towers still survive.
consists of a rectangular courtyard measuring approximately
40m north-south by 30m east-west and enclosing about a third
of an acre. It would have been defended by a curtain wall
which in turn would have been surrounded by a ditch.
At the north-east corner of the site was an L-plan tower
house with the main block arranged east to west and
measuring around 18m in length, and a wing projecting around
13m to the south.
The basement consists of
three vaulted chambers, now below ground level, above which are thought
to have been a further three storeys. At ground level are a number of
gun loops. Built onto the wing is a large, circular tower measuring
around 7m in diameter. The tower house is now a substantial but
precarious-looking ruin, rising to a height of around 10m, and peppered
with window openings.
At the south-west corner of the site was a hall house, the basement of
which was vaulted and consisted of two rooms. One was a kitchen with a
wide-arched fireplace, while the other room features a canopied
fireplace. Access to the main hall above was via a round stair
tower in the middle of the south wall. Gun loops provided defence for
the hall house. Wemyss used stone from the site to remodel this
building, although the vaulted basement, stair tower and gun loops
remain. It was latterly used as a farm steading.
At the north-west corner was
another building thought to be largely similar in size and design to
that at the south-west corner. This corner is also the likely location
of a gatehouse into the walled enclosure, with a bridge crossing the
One of the
blocks was replaced by cottages in the 19th century but to the south is a
complete hall-house, featuring crow-stepped gables, a round stair-tower and gun
loops. Although much-altered and latterly used as a farm steading, its vaulted
basement including two rooms is still extant. These rooms were a kitchen with a
wide-arched range and another room featuring a canopied fireplace.
Garleton appears to have consisted of three main buildings of mixed rubble
construction, a crow-stepped gabled hall-house with cannon-loops on the
south side,a possible L-plan tower house and a lean-to conical roofed
drum tower also with cannon-loops on the north and east corners
respectively. All attached together by a roughly oblong plan courtyard
wall. The present south wall linking these buildings is obviously
modern, lacking cannon-loops, deviating from the logical courtyard plan
and hindering the fields of fire for the tower gunners.
The west wing is
completely obscured by the modern cottages but may well be the site of
the courtyard gatehouse with outer bridge spanning that approach. For
defensive reasons the entire site would have been surrounded by a deep
fortified ditch, thus allowing the castle gunners a clear field of fire
in all directions. It is unclear wither these defenses were every put to
the test. Other castles of
the area: of
are all mentioned during Cromwell's sacking of the Lothians after the
defeat of the Scots army at the battle of Dunbar in 1650. His actions
may explain the disappearance of Garleton's neighbours of Kilduff tower
and Athelstaneford tower.
What is misleading about the castle's location today is it
wasn't a lonely tower house, but one in a chain of towers that dotted the valley
Ballencrieff and Byres to the west, to the north sat
Kilduff tower, to the east Athelstaneford tower and
Markle castle with Barnes castle on the Garleton ridge,
also built by Sir John and which never got higher than vault level before his
The castle of
Garleton was passed to Robert Seton, 8th Lord Seton, the older brother of Sir
John Seton, and who later became the 1st Earl of Winton.
He then passed the ownership to his 2nd son,
George Seton, 3rd Earl
of Winton (1584 - 1650), who gave Garleton Castle to his youngest son, the Hon. Sir John
Seton of Garleton (1639 - 1686), 1st Baronet.
Of the Seton's of Garleton, they were briefly recognized as the heirs of the Earldom of Winton
after George, 5th Earl died in exile Rome 1749.
With the Seton estates being
forfeited following the involvement of the head of the House, George Seton, the
the 5th Earl of Winton in the Jacobite Rising of 1715, George Seton, the 3rd
Baronet of Garleton was also forfeit.
In 1724, the property was sold by George Seton, 3rd Bart. of Garleton to James Wemyss,
the 5th Earl of Wemyss (1699 - 1756).
Subsequently much of the stone from the estate was reused
to built the farm cottages now occupying the north side of the site.
In the 19th century, one
block was replaced with new cottages built from the castle's stone,
incorporating gun loops from the previous building as a decorative feature.
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. Indeed locally the ruin of Barnes is still known as 'the
vaults', and used as a store-house, and Kilduff tower and Athelstaneford tower have no traceable remains though
a castle dove-cot is still around in the present village of Athelstaneford.