Edinburgh Castle is the busiest paid entry visitor attraction in the country, and is the feature which gives the city its name, but you may be surprised to learn that there are many more castles in the area than just this major fortress. Here are five more of Edinburgh's castles, which aren't Edinburgh Castle.
Built in the fifteenth century, Merchiston Castle was home to the Napier clan, a wealthy family line with links to the Scottish monarchy.
Alexander Napier, first Lord of Merchiston, was Provost (mayor) of Edinburgh, as was his son, who built the castle. In 1650 the castle was the birthplace of John Napier, who would later go on to revolutionise the world with his discovery of mathematical logarithms. Napier died at the castle in 1617, and today the Napier family seat is at the heart of the Merchiston campus of Edinburgh's Napier University.
The Napiers of Merchiston have associations with another of the city's castles. To the north of the city, near the suburb of Cramond, you'll find the picturesque Lauriston Castle, built originally by the Napiers in the sixteenth century, but largely destroyed over time and substantially developed and added to in the nineteenth century.
The house is today maintained by Edinburgh Council, and open to visitors. The extensive gardens were laid out by William Playfair in the 1840s, and as well as views along and across the Firth of Forth at the foot of the gardens, you'll find a modern Japanese garden, with ponds and paths forming a space for peace and reflection.
Another castle owned and maintained by Historic Environment Scotland, this is the only other castle in the city included in their Explorer Pass. Dating to the fourteenth century, Mary Queen of Scots sought refuge here at Craigmillar after the brutal murder of Rizzio in 1566, before returning to Edinburgh Castle to give birth to her son in June of the that year. Craigmillar is a great place for those wanting to explore a ruined castle with a true medieval flavour.
This seventeenth century castle in the Blackhall area of the city has been home to a succession of high-status families.
In the nineteenth century the property was known to have hosted a range of literary figures for weekends and soirees, including Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Lord Tennyson, and Hans Christian Andersen! The castle is currently on the market with a guide price of £5,000,000.
All that remains of this four-storey fortress is a ruined square tower in the grounds of Napier University's Craiglockhart Campus. Different sources date the original structure here to between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries.
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