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The layout of the 18th-century designed landscape at Craigiehall has largely been lost due to developments by the Ministry of Defence and restrictions imposed by the British Airport Authority. Fragments of parkland remain with mid-19th century plantings and there is surviving 18th- and 19th-century woodland along the River Almond. There are formal lawns around the house and some architectural features.

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:

Type of Site

No information available.

Location and Setting

Craigiehall is situated on the banks of the River Almond approximately 5.5 miles (9km) to the west of the city of Edinburgh. The A90 dual carriageway linking Edinburgh with the Forth Road Bridge forms the eastern boundary of the site. The estate is situated on the urban fringes of Edinburgh. Edinburgh Airport lies to the south-west, and to the south-east lies the estate of Cammo House which has now been partly developed for private housing. To the north, beyond the A90, is the estate of Dalmeny. The designed landscape is situated in a relatively flat landscape which reaches a high point on Lenn Hill, to the south of the River Almond. This was used as the setting for the 18th century Temple from which views of the policies could be gained against the background of the Fife Hills to the north, and West Lothian to the west. The River Almond cuts through the south part of the policies in the form of a deep gorge. The relatively flat nature of the landscape renders few views into the estate, except from the north, from which point the woodlands are important scenically. There are extensive views to the south and west from within the policies.

Craigiehall House is situated on the north bank of the River Almond amid some 64 acres (26ha) of designed landscape which extends north to the present main entrance, south to a minor road beyond the Belvedere Wood, east down to the broad avenue to the A90, and west to a loop of the River Almond.

Reference to General Roy's map of c.1750 indicates that the designed landscape of this period was largely confined to the northern bank of the River Almond. The policies were extended south of the River by the Hon Charles Hope Vere after 1755 to a form indicated on the 1st edition OS map of c.1860, which still can be discerned today, although changes in ownership and land use over the years have resulted in the loss of some features of the original design.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Craigiehall, listed category A, has six bays, three storeys and an attic floor, and a three-storey three-bay wing. It dates from 1699 and was designed by the architect, Sir William Bruce. Additions were made by David Bryce c.1852 and alterations carried out by Sir Robert Lorimer between 1926-7. The Steading, or Stable-block, listed category C(S), dates from the mid-19th century and is thought to have been designed by David Bryce. The Doocot, listed category C(S), is dated 1672 and contained more than 600 nest boxes. The Grotto, listed category C(S), stands on the riverbank of the Almond. It dates from the 18th century and is constructed of rough rocks, with two levels, the upper one of which incorporates a fireplace. The Temple, or Belvedere, listed category A, is now outwith the Craigiehall policies and is part of the Dalmeny Estate. It is dated 1759 although the impressive entrance portico is earlier, and carries the arms and initials of the 1st Marquis of Annandale. The building was damaged by fire in 1970 and the second storey removed in 1975. The Sundial on the lawn to the east of the house dates from the 17th century and has an obelisk mounted on a sphere. It was found in 1965 in pieces in a field surrounded by a derelict railed enclosure. It was restored by the Ancient Monuments Division of the SDD and sited in its present position and it is listed B. A sundial on the west lawn is carved with the arms of the 3rd Earl of Annandale. An exact copy of it is in the policies of Hopetoun House. Craigiehall Bridge spans the River Almond and was built in the classical style c.1757.


Reference to the 1st edition OS map of 1857 indicates that the parkland was laid out to the north and south of the house and beyond the River Almond up to the Temple. It would appear, however, that only the parks to the south of the main west/east avenue were ever well stocked with trees.

A 9-hole golf course was laid out as part of the Country Club complex in the 1930s, although it is uncertain exactly which area of park was used. Today, the only areas of remaining parkland lie between the east drive and the River Almond. They are overlooked by the officers' accommodation on Riverside Road and Primrose Drive. The individual parkland trees date mainly from the mid- 19th century and include species of sycamore, lime and horse chestnut. New parkland trees have been planted.

To the north of the house, opposite the walled garden, the parks have been levelled for use as playing pitches. Various army residential buildings have also been laid out, thus changing the character of the area. The hard- surfaced parade ground lies to the north of the stable-block. The remaining land on either side of the north drive is now agricultural.


Along the banks of the River Almond, the woodlands are mixed deciduous, mainly sycamore and beech dating from the late 19th century although some beech remain from the mid-18th century layout. Some yew remains around the Grotto on the north bank, the walk to which is badly overgrown. The walk along the south bank from Grotto Bridge is, however, still open and public access is allowed to and from it; views can be obtained across the river to the 18th century folly.

The woodland used to extend south from the Grotto Bridge up Lennie Hill to the Temple and beyond to the south entrance at Lennie Gate. The oak canopy of the woodland has gone, cut down due to the restrictions of the British Airport Authority in the 1970s, and the wood now consists of mainly elder and holly. A 'terraced walk' along the north side of the Temple, designed to provide views of the park, is now overgrown.

A small coniferous woodland, Collingwood Plantation, lies to the west of the house on the banks of the Almond and was planted in 1958 on the site of former army Nissen huts. To the east of the house, the drive is lined with yew and cedar and other specimen conifers which form a dark enclosure. They are backed by some oak, dating from the 19th century, and some new Acer varieties have been planted. On the south side of the east drive, beyond Riverside Road, is the pond which is surrounded mainly by sycamore, dating from c.1880, and there is considerable natural regeneration.

The Gardens

There is no extensive garden at Craigiehall, but formal lawns lie to the east and west of the house. On the west side of the house, some low-level shrub planting has been established around the sundial. Specimen trees, including species of lime, whitebeam and rowan have been planted around the doocot.

Walled Garden

The walled garden is thought (ref Craigiehall by Major C.B. Innes 1982) to have been built by Alexander McGill for the 1st Marquis of Annandale in 1708. He also is thought to have designed gatepiers to the west entrance of the garden from the house.

Little is known of the original design of the garden but it is known to have been leased in 1716 to a local gardener who was bound 'to keep the garden, with the parterre flower garden and bowling green in as good condition as they were in at his entry'.

Mr Ernest Thomson employed one gardener to maintain the garden during the period when the house was managed as a hotel. The maintenance was abandoned during World War II. In 1966 a new building was constructed within the garden walls to house the Headquarters of the Army in Scotland.

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

A designed landscape of historical and architectural interest, the main 18th century structure being largely lost. The doocot and grotto are notable features and Craigiehall itself is category A listed.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

No information available.

Site History

A formal designed landscape was laid out following the construction of Craigiehall to the design of Sir William Bruce in 1699. Alexander McGill is recorded as being involved in the construction of the walled garden in 1708.

Landscape improvements were made by the Hon Charles Hope Vere between 1755- 1791 on his return from a Grand Tour of Italy and further improvements were made by William Edward Hope Vere in the mid-19th century. There are no known designers.

The earliest mention of Craigiehall dates from the time of King David I (1124- 53) when the lands were held by John de Craigie. A descendant of the family, Margaret Craigie, inherited the lands in the 14th century and, in 1387, married Robert Stewart of Dirisdeer. The Stewart family were subsequently lairds of Craigiehall until 1643 when the estate was sold to John Fairholm whose grand- daughter, Sophia, married William Johnstone, the 3rd Earl of Annandale, in 1682.

The Craigiehall estates were added to the Dumfriesshire lands of the Johnstone family. The Earl pursued a political career and Craigiehall became their Edinburgh home. Several notable architects of the time were consulted but, eventually, Sir William Bruce was commissioned to build a new house at the same time that neighbouring Hopetoun House was being built. The new Craigiehall was completed in 1699. The title of 1st Marquis of Annandale was conferred on the Earl in 1701 and, in the following years, he was created Knight of the Thistle and became Lord Privy Seal for Scotland and President of the Privy Council in Scotland. A formal landscape was laid out following the construction of the house.

The estate was passed in 1715 to their son, James Johnstone, who succeeded as 2nd Marquis in 1721. His sister Henrietta, married Charles Hope, who later became 1st Earl of Hopetoun. The 2nd Marquis commissioned William Adam to prepare drawings for alterations to the house in 1730 but they were not carried out. In fact, the 2nd Marquis died unmarried in that year, and the estates and title of 3rd Marquis fell to his half-brother, George Johnstone. He was thought to be of unsound mind and the management of this estate was controlled by the Hope family of Hopetoun until Henrietta's second son, the Honourable Charles Hope, inherited in 1741, by which time his elder brother was the 2nd Earl of Hopetoun.

In 1733, Charles Hope had married Catherine Weir, heiress of Blackwood House, Lanarkshire, and assumed the name of Hope Weir, which later became Hope Vere. With his son, he travelled to Europe on a Grand Tour accompanied by the young Robert Adam. On his return, in 1755, Charles Hope Vere proceeded to embellish the landscape at Craigiehall inspired by his travels; thus, the Temple or Belvedere was built, the Deer Park was laid out, and various ornamental features were added to the landscape of the River Almond.

Charles Hope Vere died in 1791. His son William inherited and was succeeded by his son, James Joseph, in 1811. He married Lady Elizabeth Hay, daughter of the 7th Marquis of Tweeddale, and they commissioned William Burn to make some alterations to the house.

James Hope Vere died in 1843 and was succeeded by his son, William Edward, who married Lady Emily Boyle in 1852. They commissioned David Bryce to extend the house and to build the stables and other ancillary buildings to the north of the house. Their son, Colonel James Charles Hope Vere, inherited the estate in 1872 and it was through him that it was sold, in 1916, to the 5th Earl of Rosebery of the neighbouring estate of Dalmeny.

Craigiehall was purchased for Lord Rosebery's 2nd son, the Rt Hon Neil James Archibald Primrose MC MA JP and his wife, Lady Victoria Stanley. He was killed in 1917 on active service in World War I and left no male heir. Craigiehall was left empty for some years before being let on a long-term lease whilst the surrounding farmland was retained under Dalmeny Estate management.

Craigiehall was leased for the first time in 1926 to James Morton, a wealthy textile merchant, for a 21 year period. By then, the house had lain empty for more than ten years and extensive renovations were carried out. Sir Robert Lorimer was commissioned for work to the house, and a water-turbine was built beneath the Grotto to provide electricity to the house and stables, which were renovated as accommodation for Morton's textile workers; a craft studio was also established.

Despite all the improvements, James Morton terminated the lease on the property after only seven years. The house was re-let by the Earl of Rosebery to E. Thomson & Co, an Edinburgh firm, together with 30 acres of policies. Their lease entitled them to the right to purchase the house and policies at a later date for a static price of #9,000 and to make any alterations to the house. They founded the Riverside Hotel & Country Club at Craigiehall in 1933, the first of its kind in Scotland.

The venture flourished but the War Office ordered the requisition of the house in 1939. Mr Ernest Thomson retained two lodges and one cottage for the gardener of the Walled Garden which, initially, he retained but later abandoned. The Army continued occupation of the house after 1945 and, in 1951, purchased it from Mr Thomson. One year later, a further 47.5 acres of land was sold by Lord Rosebery to the War Department which included the Walled Garden, the Games Fields in the former parkland, and what is now the Parade Ground. Dalmeny Estate retained the right of access through the grounds for estate management purposes. New officers' quarters were built in the east park and Craigiehall Barracks were opened in 1955.

In 1966 the Scottish Command Headquarters of the Army was established at Craigiehall and many new residential and social facilities were built in the grounds. The Dalmeny Estate retains the remainder of the policies.

Surrounding land uses have imposed changes to the designed landscape at Craigiehall; improvements to the A90 on the eastern boundary in the late 1960s resulted in the loss of the East Lodge and, by way of compensation, the lodge on the north drive was built. In the mid 1970s, the British Airports Authority required that the oak avenue between Craigiehall Bridge and the Temple be removed, and also the top second storey of the Temple itself, as they were thought to be a danger to planes approaching or taking off from the airport. The effect of reducing the height of the Temple was a reduction in the most scenically significant component of the policies in the surrounding landscape. To compensate the loss of the Temple's structure, the BAA funded the repair of the lower apartment of the building and added a metal door to the entrance to prevent vandals entering. This latter defence has since been broken down and the building has been subjected to vandalism.


18th Century (1701 to 1800)

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland


  • Doocot
  • Grotto
  • Sundial
  • Description: Seventeenth-century sundial
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Key Information





Principal Building



18th Century (1701 to 1800)


Part: standing remains






  • Historic Scotland