Lothians: About 2 miles south and west of Tranent, south of Elphinstone, on minor road south of B6414, at Elphinstone Tower.
Ruin or site NT 391698 OS: 66 EH33 2LZ
Elphinstone Tower (or Castle) was a simple ruined 14th-century tower, formerly of three storeys with a stone-flagged parapet.
The basement was vaulted. The hall and original kitchen, screened by a partition, were on the first floor, and this storey was also vaulted. The upper floors contained private chambers. Many small rooms and stairs were contained in the thickness of the walls, including a peephole, where the hall could be watched in secret.
‘Elphinstoun’ is marked on Blaeu’s map of Lothian and Linlithgow, and is shown in an enclosed and wooded park. ‘Elphinston’ is depicted on Adair’s map of
The property belonged to the Setons at one time, but the Elphinstones held the lands from the 13th century. Sir Alexander Elphinstone was killed in 1435 in a raid on Piperden in Northumberland, and the property passed through his heiress by marriage to the Johnstones soon afterwards. In 1545 the Protestant martyr, George Wishart, was brought here from nearby Ormiston, and at Elphinstone was handed over to Cardinal David Beaton, who took Wishart back to St Andrews for trial and execution by burning in 1546. In 1633 Alexander Elphinstone, Master of Elphinstone, had a ratification for the property, then in 1681 John Elphinstone, Lord Elphinstone, had a ratification in his favour which mentions the lands and barony of Elphinstone, with the castle, tower, fortalice, manor place, etc.
An adjoining mansion of 1600 was demolished in 1865, as was much of the tower in 1955 due to subsidence from coal workings. More has been lost since, and
now only a few feet of walls remain.
One story is that there was an underground passage linking the tower to Falside Castle.
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