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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 14/07/1966


  • Local Authority: Edinburgh
  • Planning Authority: Edinburgh
  • Burgh: Edinburgh

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNT 24259 71805
  • Coordinates324259, 671805


15th century, remodelled in 17th century; 5-storey and attic L-plan tower house, now incorporated into Napier University (1961); pink sandstone rubble; some chamfered dressings; corbelled parapet with rounded unroofed bartizans to corners of main block, rounded at corners of wing, stone waterspouts; gabled attic storey in roof space and circular cap-house.

SE (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: modern entrance (1958-64) accessed by concrete dog-leg stair at 2nd floor to left, tall rectangular opening with round-arched moulded doorway and heraldic carved panel; single window under doorway; blocked up basement window; single windows to 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor to right bay, single window to left of centre at 3rd floor; round cap-house with conical roof above parapet to outer left; shouldered wallhead stack to right of centre.

NW ELEVATION: advanced wing to right with off-set string course at 2nd floor, attic storey with crowstepped gable and apex stack, on return bipartite window at 2nd floor and single window at 3rd floor, pedimented dormer in attic storey; ground and 1st floor of main block obscured by modern enclosed walkway, 2 single windows above.

NE ELEVATION: main block with single window at ground floor; bipartite windows to 1st and 2nd; 2 arrowslit windows above; crowstepped gable to attic storey with apex stack.

SW ELEVATION: 2-storey modern addition; single windows to ground and 3rd floor to right; attic storey with crowstepped gable and apex stack to right, pedimented dormer to left. Multi-pane timber sash and case windows; Scottish slate roof, 2 apex and 1 wallhead stack (see above). INTERIOR: former hall (now principal's room or study) with heavily restored late medieval fireplace with nook-shafts and moulded capitals, ornate 17th century plaster ceiling with central pendant and various motifs among them reliefs of King David and Alexander the Great; former fireplace recess, lockers and serving hatch of kitchen still visible in wing; board room at 3rd floor (encompassing 4th floor) with bolection-moulded fireplace, modern gallery and transplanted painted timber ceiling of 1581 from Prestongrange House, East Lothian; some moulded stone surround fireplaces on upper floors.

Statement of Special Interest

Scheduled Monument. A later gateway is listed separately under Colinton Road, Napier University, Merchiston Castle Gateway. Merchiston Castle was the birthplace of John Napier (1550-1617), mathematician and inventor of logarithms. The castle remained largely in the hands of the Napier family, influential in Edinburgh during the 15th and 16th century, until the early 19th century when it became Merchiston Castle School. Additions made then to the castle such as large side wings were removed during the extensive restoration and refurbishment of the castle in the 1960s.



RCAMS Inv 185; MacRae Her 31; MacGibbon and Ross, CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND, vol III, pp263-8; Gifford et al., EDINBURGH (1984), pp497-8; M R Apted, THE PAINTED CEILINGS OF SCOTLAND 1550-1650 (Edinburgh, 1966), III.41,42.

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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