Whittinghame Tower and Nunraw near Garvald, on a rough grassy ridge beside the
Pappana water stands the rose colored ruin of
Stoneypath Tower. Originally held by several great Scots families of
note, the Dunbars, the Douglases on two occasions, the Lyles, the Hamiltons and
eventually the Setons.
Dunbars, originally known as Gospatrick changed their name to Dunbar after their
principal East Lothian coastal fortress,
and are most noted in history because
of this fortress since it was here in 1338 that Patrick Dunbar's young wife
Black Agnes resisted a lengthy siege by the English. Fortunately Alexander
Ramsay of Dalhousie castle raised the siege by bringing supplies and troops in
by sea. The Dunbar's Tower of Stoneypath was a
classic L plan keep and probably dates from the late 1300's when it
passed from them to the Douglases of Dalkeith.
Interestingly Dalkeith castle (before it was replaced by the present Adam's
style Palace) was originally an L plan keep and may have proved inspirational in
Stoneypath's construction. Though some historians have suggested that
Stoneypath dates from the mid 1400's when it was held by the Lyles since
the heraldry inside is of the Lyles and not the Dunbars or Douglases.
Dalkeith Douglases were nephews of the notorious border Lord
William Douglas "the knight of Liddesdale "from Hermitage
castle, who in 1342, for some unknown reason, killed Alexander Ramsay the hero
of the Dunbar siege. Because of this
he was ambushed and killed in 1353 in Ettrick forest by his Godson another
William Douglas (later 1st Earl of Douglas).
His Liddesdale lands and Hermitage castle were claimed by his Godson. Which was
contested unsuccessfully by the Dalkeith Douglases as their inheritance.
the rebellion of 1363 against King David II of Scots (1329-1371) William 1st
Earl of Douglas and George Dunbar (Black Agnes's son) having seized
Dirleton castle and ambushed some Ramsays they believed were in league
with the King marched west to the battle of Lanark where they were defeated by
King David and his familiar Archibald "the
Grim" Black Douglas (William's
devious cousin). To compensate for his rebellion William was forced to give most
of his Liddesdale lands to Archibald by the King. Archibald then gave these to
his allies the Dalkeith Douglases. Which would later become a bone of contention
with William's illegitimate son George the "Red" Douglas of
Tantallon castle, near North Berwick.
as already mentioned was held first by the Dunbars and was known as a "warsteed"
one of the "seven warsteeds of Dunbar".
There is still much debate as to which "seven" castles made up the
"warsteeds". A possible list would include obviously Dunbar castle,
Stoneypath then Hailes castle near East Linton,Byres castle near Haddington and Luffness
castle beside Aberlady-all in East
Lothian; then Coldbrandspath Tower (Cockburnspath) and
Billie castle near Chirnside
in the Borders. By the late 1300's these "warsteeds" had passed to
other Dunbar vassal families by
peaceful and violent means. Stoneypath to the Dalkeith Douglases through
marriage, Hailes to the Hepburns also through marriage, Byres to the Lyndsays,
Luffness to the Bickertons then on to the Hepburns, while Dunbar castle,
Coldbrandspath and Billie were all forcibly seized by the Douglases after 1400.
1384 William 1st Earl of Douglas
died and was succeeded as 2nd Earl
by his legitimate son James. Who in 1388 was assassinated at the battle of
Otterburn by his own armour bearer Bickerton
of Luffness. Though the real mastermind behind the murder was probably Archibald
"the Grim" since he seized the title 3rd Earl of
Douglas,despite the claim to the Earldom by James's illegitimate half
brother George the "Red" Douglas. Also Bickerton was himself murdered
outside Luffness before he could be
arrested and questioned. Then his assassin Ramsay of
Waughton castle mysteriously disappeared leaving no loose ends to link
James's murder back to Archibald, who as Earl of
Douglas seized the remaining lands in Liddesdale originally held by his
cousin William the 1st Earl.
1398,George the "Red" Douglas with his allies the Lyndsays of
Byres attacked the lands around Dalkeith castle and
Stoneypath tower as well as Dalkeith Douglas land interests in the west
demanding the return of his father's Liddesdale lands. Eventually in 1400 he and
his allies marched west to Bothwell castle for a meeting with Archibald
"the Grim" and agreed to end his assaults on Dalkeith and Stoneypath in exchange for some of the Liddesdale lands.
1446 Stoneypath was in the hands of the Lyles who unlike the previous owners
kept a low profile politically until 1488 when they were described as 'rebels'
for having supported Hepburn of Hailes
and Archibald "Bell the cat" Douglas at the battle of Sauchieburn
resulting in King James lll's (1460-1488) murder.
1548 Stoneypath and Nunraw tower appear to have been stormed by the English
during the wars of the 'rough wooing' where by use of castle burning they hoped
to force the marriage of the infant Mary Queen
of Scots (1542-1587) to the English
Prince Edward. The raid on Nunraw was supported by Douglas of Whittinghame who
was one of several East Lothian
Lords 'assured Scots' who favored the marriage alliance and were willing to
fight their own country men to achieve this goal.
late 1548 Stoneypath and several other towers were retaken by the Hamiltons
under the Earl of Arran and 'assured Scots'
such as Cockburn of Ormiston and Douglas of
Longniddry had their homes slighted for their collaboration,
although it's unclear
whether or not Whittinghame tower was slighted at this time.
1611 George Lyle resigned Stoneypath to Alexander Hamilton of
castle near Dunbar.
By 1616 it had been passed to Archibald Douglas of
Whittinghame, and eventually on to the Setons most noted in history for their
medieval Seton Palace (replaced by
a modern Adams mansion) and it's small collegiate church.
It passed first on
to the Seton's to Sir William Seton of Kyllismuir and his son and heir, William
Seton, and thence to the Seton Viscounts of
Kingston with the Whittingehame dowry.
The Charter to William
Seton, son and heir of Sir William Seton of Kyllismuir is as per recorded in the
Inquisitionum ad Capellam Domini Regis retornatarum, Volume 1:
Sep. 8. 1636.
GULIELMUS SEYTOUN, heres
Domini Willielmi Seytoun de Kyllismore militis, patris, -in terris de
Garvaldgraing et Brewland et terra husbandia, in villa et territorio de Garvald,
cum privilegio cespitum et ligna scindendi in terris de Slaid et silvis de Houpe,
Newlands, et Snawdoen, infra constabulariam de Hadingtoun; -terris
ecclesiasticis de Garvald et Brewland: -terris templarius de Rystible et Garvald
cum hertis et pastura, jacentibus ut supra.
isn't mentioned during Cromwell's sacking of Lothian castles in the
1650's.However local tradition claims Cromwell's men removed the tower's roof.
At some point in the 1700's it was used as a quarry to build houses locally.
During MacGibbon and Ross's study of the ruin two interesting features were
still present an overhanging toilet and a stone clad conical cap on the turnpike
stairwell, now sadly gone. There is hope for Stoneypath since there is the
possibility of it being reconstructed and lived in as a home. But hopefully the
new owners won't be as bloodthirsty and warlike as the Tower's medieval