The designed landscape at Craig House is largely confined to the walled gardens around the house. The three linked walled gardens comprise a rare example of a complete 17th-century layout of tower and walled enclosures.
Type of Site
Three linked walled gardens, probably of 17th century origin, surrounding Craig House
Location and Setting
Craig House is situated off the A92 on the south side of the Montrose Basin.
The area around Craig House is generally open arable land with little tree cover. The ground rises slowly to the south of the house. Principal views are to the north over the Montrose Basin and to the town of Montrose from the southernmost walled garden and perimeter woodland belts.
The designed landscape at Craig House is largely confined to the walled gardens around the house. In the 19th century Craig House was linked to the Rossie estate as a dower-house, but has reverted to separate ownership. There is no longer a substantial house at Rossie and its landscape is degraded.
Craig House is a two-storey and attic L-plan house forming two sides of a courtyard. It was rebuilt in 1637 incorporating two towers of an earlier date. The Entrance Gateway consists of an entrance arch flanked by two round defensive towers. The 17th-century Stables which are two stories in height and of rubble and slate construction, are now partly ruinous. The Walled Gardens comprise three 17th-century rubble enclosures with walls 4-5m high, which have been patched and added to over the years. In the North Walled Garden the north and east walls are brick-lined for fruit growing. There is an entrance gateway in the west wall of the north garden which would have been the access from Rossie Castle when Craig was the garden for that castle. Next to the entrance is a blocked-up earlier doorway. Two Bee Boles flank the doorway in the north wall of the garden on the west side of the house. A smaller wall cavity is situated in the south-eastern corner of the eastern walled garden. The South Stone Entrance Gate Piers are of a composite date incorporating earlier 18th-century masonry fragments, particularly the pineapple finial. The 19th-century, single-storey Gardener's Cottage is situated to the north-west of the north garden. The Obelisk on the top lawn in the garden to the south of the house was originally installed at Holly House in Montrose.
Drives and Approaches
The main approach to the courtyard of Craig House is from the north by a short straight drive. The wide grass verges on either side of the drive are planted with sycamore, hazel, Scots pine, laurel and Laburnum. The verges are separated from the surrounding fields by park railing. Craig House can also be approached by footpaths from the southeast and west.
There are two small areas of parkland at Craig House. The first lies to the west of the drive and consists of mown paths through long grass, planted with specimen and clumped beech and sycamore. The second is an area of newly created parkland in a strip of land to the east of Craig House and the main drive. This area has been planted with specimen rowan, Scots pine, horse chestnut, cedar and lime trees, and offers a panoramic view southwards of the Montrose basin. Shelter belts of mixed deciduous trees surround the walled gardens on all sides.
Craig House and its courtyard lie towards the centre of what used to be four surrounding walled gardens. The walls of one of the original walled gardens have been replaced by hedges which now makes a complex of three gardens at Craig House. The garden to the south of the house and west side of the drive has a central grass path running north-south flanked by herbaceous borders. The west side of the garden contains lawns and a rockery. An obelisk has been installed in this side of the garden, and a summerhouse built against the south wall. On the east side of the north-south herbaceous borders are four platts, two of which are planted with lavender and the remaining two grassed. The eastern wall is partly covered by old specimen fruit trees, with climbing roses and Clematis trained up through them to extend the season of interest through the summer.
The central path leads northwards to the adjacent Middle walled garden which has a yew hedge on its south side. According to the 1st edition OS map, this was originally a wall which ran close to the south wall of the house. The yew hedge looks to date from the late 19th/early 20th century. The west front of the house faces this part of the garden. Close to the house there is a small area of open lawn backed by a group of rhododendrons with a small orchard behind. There is a perimeter gravel path and a herbaceous border against the north wall.
The north walled garden is divided by a 3-4m high mixed hedge planted on a north-south axis. There are large lawns either side of the hedge, with a circular rose bed planted in the lawn on the west side. The south wall is bordered by a mixed shrub bed. A random rubble wall, approx. 45cm high runs the length of the bed which is planted with a mixture of Rhododendrons, roses, Philadelphus, and Choisya. There is also a mature bottlebrush (Callistemon rigidus) in this border, an exotic Australian shrub not normally fully hardy in this part of Angus, but thriving in the sheltered conditions created by the walls.
The 2.5m wide herbaceous border against the East wall is backed by old fruit trees trained against the walls.
A mixed hedge of holly and hazel runs along the bottom north side of the lawns and separates the open grass areas from a very sheltered 'hidden garden' behind. This area may have been the main fruit growing area, as there are still old apples, pears, redcurrants and blackcurrants growing against the north wall. There is also an old sunken pineapple house and part of a 19th-century lean-to range of glass-houses on the south-facing north wall. The north wall is flued. There is a box parterre beside the pineapple house and a row of exotic trees and shrubs on the western side, including the Foxglove tree (Paulownia tomentosa) and the Indian bean tree (Catalpa bignonioides).
The site of the potting sheds, on the outside of the north wall, has been replaced with a line of limes. A gravel path which runs all the way around the garden is bordered on the south by Rosa rugosa and beech hedges.
- Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts
The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:
Reason for Inclusion
The three linked walled gardens, probably of 17th century origin, surrounding Craig House, comprise a rare example of a complete 17th-century layout of tower and walled enclosures. With additional 18th and 19th century overlays, the gardens are a fascinating and attractive record of early Scottish design.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries
The present house lies on the foundations of an earlier fortalice which may have had extensive associated buildings on the sites of the present walled gardens. Most of the present buildings date from the 17th century as do the garden walls. There is little description extant except for that of John Ochterlony of Guynd who notes in his Account of the Shire of Forfar, c.1682, that:
'James Scott of Logie, sometime Provost of Montrose, ... hath thrie houses there, viz. Craig, Rossie, two excellent houses, rebuilt with excellent good yards, orchards, and planting. Craig hath ane excellent fountain, with a large basone of hewn stone, whereunto water is conveyed by pypes of lead from a spring at a good distance.'
The Craig estate was purchased by the Scotts from the Woods c. 1664. At the end of the 18th century it was bought by the Ross family who built nearby Rossie Castle (demolished in 1952). Craig became the dower-house for Rossie and probably the fruit and vegetable garden for that house too. The 1st edition OS 1:10560 (6'), 1857, shows a wooded lane leading from Rossie to Craig.
- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
- Walled Garden
- Key Information