Lothians: About 2 miles north-east of Dalkeith or 2.5 miles south-east of Musselburgh, on minor roads east of A6124, west of Queen Mary’s Mount, at Carberry Tower.
Private NT 364697 OS: 66 EH21 8PY
OPEN: Hotel. Weddings and events.
Tel: 0131 665 3135 Web: www.carberrytower.com
Carberry Tower is a small square 16th-century tower house of four storeys with a corbelled-out parapet and very thick walls. The building may incorporate earlier work. A caphouse crowns the stair at the one corner, and the walls are pierced by gunloops. There is an adjacent block and tower, probably also dating from the 16th century, with a corbelled-out stair-turret, although the old part has been much altered. The tower was extended by a large mansion in 1819, which was remodelled by the architect David Bryce (and by Thomas Ross of MacGibbon and Ross fame) and rises to three storeys and an attic and has corbiestepped gables and corbelled-out turrets. The building stands in 35 acres of scenic grounds, and there is a sundial in the rose garden, probably dating from the 17th century.
‘Kaertery’ is marked on Blaeu’s map of The Lothians, then ‘Carbery’ on Adair’s map of Midlothian when the place is depicted in wooded policies.
The lands were held by the Abbey of Dunfermline, but the tower was built (or rebuilt) by Hugh Rigg about 1543, not far from the site of the Battle of Carberry Hill, where, in 1567, Mary, Queen of Scots was captured and later forced to abdicate.
The property later passed to the Blairs of Lochwood in 1659, then to the Dicksons of Inveresk in 1689, then to the Fullertons, then by marriage to the Elphinstone family – whose original tower, Elphinstone Tower, is nearby. The property was gifted to the Church of Scotland in 1961 and was used as a Christian youth and conference centre before being refurbished as a hotel.
The corbiestepped gable of the original castle were apparently over-decorated with cherubim:
‘Auld Hugh Rigg was very very big,
But a bigger man than he,
When his cherubs chirped,
Upon his new house of Carberee!’
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