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Yester Castle

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Yester Castle, 2008
Yester Castle
© M J Richardson
Yester Castle, 2008
Yester Castle
© M J Richardson

Yester Castle is located within the Yester Estate in Gifford, East Lothian, and was built during the second half of the 13th century by Hugo De Gifford, also known as the Wizard of Yester. It is the seat of the Marquess of Tweeddale, but the lands of Yester House have been in possession of the Gifford and Hay families from at least the 12th century.

Online references are divided between 1267 and 1297 as the date, so it would appear that a typo has propagated without correction.

The original castle was triangular in plan, and stood on a similarly shaped high promontory at the confluence of Hopes Water and a lesser burn. Approached from the south, the ruined gatehouse seems to have had two flanking towers, and a wide ditch almost turns the promontory into an island. This castle did not last for long, being cut down to ground level in order to deny its use by the English, a policy instated by King Robert the Bruce during the Scottish Wars of Independence. Following the end of the wars, it was rebuilt, again following a triangular plan.

The castle is now a ruin, and little remains above ground other than a stretch of curtain wall, but the hall underneath is substantially intact.

Shown on early maps as Hobgoblin Ha', legend claims that this subterranean hall was created by mysterious forces, and was where Gifford practised his magic.

Goblin Ha'

Goblin Ha', 2008
Goblin Ha'
© ronnie leask

Goblin Ha', or Goblin Hall, lies to the east of the walled area once enclosed by Yester Castle, and is reached by a flight of steps. This subterranean hall is about 37 feet long, 13 feet wide, built of ashlar, and having a high pointed vaulted roof, 19 feet high. Another staircase leads down to a well and bolt-hole in a nearby gulley. Early maps show the feature as Hobgoblin Ha'.

Dates vary, and the hall may date from the 13th century, while the western range of structure was probably built towards the end of the 14th century, and the masonry of the perimeter walls would appear to be of 15th century, corresponding to the rebuilding of the castle above. Despite the legend that this hall was created by mysterious forces, it is really only the basement chamber of the original castle built above. This was a motte-and-bailey construction, and the hall was dug into the motte, or mound, that surrounded the bailey, or enclosed courtyard of the castle.

Goblin Ha', 2008
Goblin Ha'
© M J Richardson
Goblin Ha', 2008
Goblin Ha'
© M J Richardson


Yester House

Yester House, 2008
Yester House
© M J Richardson
Yester House, 2008
Yester House
© ronnie leask

Yester House is described as having 85 palatial rooms, set within 500 acres. In 2008, it was offered for sale with a price tag of £15 million, which made it then the most expensive house offered for sale in Scotland, three times the prevailing record, held by nearby Seton House, which sold for £5 million in 2007. [1]

The house was commissioned by the 2nd Marquess of Tweeddale in 1697, and his successors remained at the house until 1967. Original house of 1699-1728 by James Smith and Alexander MacGill, altered in 1729 by William Adam Senior and then, in 1789, by Robert Adam.

The rooms all have 20-foot ceilings and classical proportions, and the thickness of the walls allow four-foot-wide antechambers between the rooms on the second floor.

References

1 Yester House is Scotland's most expensive home - Times Online Retrieved February 15, 2011.

External links

Related Canmore/RCAHMS and ScotlandsPlaces (SP) entries:-

 

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