To the north of the
ancient market town of Haddington behind the Garleton hills sits the ruin of
Garleton castle, with an intact crow stepped gabled hall-house, a row of modern
cottages which incorporate earlier castle material (including 16th century
cannon-loops) and the remains of a drum tower with three basement vaults set
into an angled wall. Which must have been the location of the principal dwelling
tower, possibly L-plan in form, since these vaults suggest the distribution of
weight from several levels above
These are all that
remain of the castle raised in the late 1500's by Sir John Seton (treasurer of
the household and Lord of Session under King James VI of Scots 1567-1625) on
land originally owned by the Lyndsay family of nearby Byres castle. Locally the
Lyndsays also held Luffness castle beside Aberlady and lands around
which the later signed over to the Cockburn family.
both these families in turn appear to have been vassal lords in
subjection to the Dunbar family who held the majority of land
throughout the Lothians with Dunbar castle as their
Garleton itself may
well incorporate fabric from an earlier Lyndsay tower on site. Or may even
include rubble taken from Byres castle. As Byres appears to have been dismantled
by the English in 1548 to ensure the security of their 'Fortress of Haddingtoun'
during the wars of the 'Rough Wooing' (1544-1550) where by use of castle sacking
they hoped to force the marriage of the infant Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1567)
to the English Prince Edward.
The Seton family also suffered during these times
with the burning of Seton Palace, Seton Collegiate church and the destruction of
their L-plan tower house of Winton castle by the English invaders in 1544. Today
both Seton Palace and Winton have been replaced by modern buildings ie in
the1700's and 1600's,although the base of the medieval L-plan tower is still
held within the modern 1600's work at Winton.
Garleton was built
after 1550 and before Sir John Seton's death in 1594. What is misleading about
the castle's location today is it wasn't a lonely tower house. But one in a
chain of towers that dotted the valley floor. With Ballencrieff and Byres to the
west, to the north sat Kilduff tower, to the east Athelstaneford tower and Markle
castle with Barnes castle on the Garleton ridge also built by Sir John but it
never got higher than vault level before his death. Indeed locally the ruin of
Barnes is still known as 'the vaults'. Kilduff tower and Athelstaneford tower
have no traceable remains though a castle dove-cot is still around in the
present village of Athelstaneford.
appears to have consisted of three main buildings of mixed rubble construction,
crowstepped gabled hall-house with cannon-loops on the south side,a possible
L-plan tower house and a lean-to conical roofed drum tower also with
cannon-loops on the north and east corners respectively. All attached together
by a roughly oblong plan courtyard wall. The present south wall linking these
buildings is obviously modern, lacking cannon-loops, deviating from the logical
courtyard plan and hindering the fields of fire for the tower gunners. The west
wing is completely obscured by the modern cottages but may well be the site of
the courtyard gatehouse with outer bridge spanning that approach. For defensive
reasons the entire site would have been surrounded by a deep fortified ditch,
thus allowing the castle gunners a clear field of fire in all directions.
It is unclear wither these defenses were every put to the test. Certainly the
castles of Innerwick, Hailes, Dirleton and
Tantallon are all mentioned during
Cromwell's sacking of Lothian castles after the defeat of the Scots army at the
battle of Dunbar in 1650. His actions may explain the disappearance of Garleton's neighbours of Kilduff tower and Athelstaneford tower.
In 1724 Garleton
was sold to the Earl of Wemyss. The presence of the modern cottages on site
highlights the common practice of Victorian builders to dismantle such ancient
towers as Garleton viewing them as ready made quarries failing to appreciate
their historical and architectural value.