Ancient Monuments

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Cairns Castle

A Scheduled Monument in East Livingston and East Calder, West Lothian

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Latitude: 55.8292 / 55°49'45"N

Longitude: -3.4537 / 3°27'13"W

OS Eastings: 309037

OS Northings: 660507

OS Grid: NT090605

Mapcode National: GBR 41B1.27

Mapcode Global: WH5RX.XRK4

Entry Name: Cairns Castle

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1981

Last Amended: 24 January 2000

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1193

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: tower

Location: Mid Calder

County: West Lothian

Electoral Ward: East Livingston and East Calder

Traditional County: Midlothian


The monument consists of the remains of a rectangular towerhouse of probable early fifteenth-century date with a jamb projecting from its S wall. A turnpike staircase is situated in the angle between the main block and the jamb. The monument has been included in the schedule of monuments of national importance. However, all documents relating to the scheduling have been lost: the rescheduling rectifies this omission.

The tower is constructed of a high-quality roughly squared rubble masonry and has walls 1.2-2m thick. It measures 8.35m EW by 7.20m NS and stands c.9.15m high. The accommodation consisted of three storeys of chambers above a barrel-vaulted cellar, which has collapsed. Much of the interior face of masonry has been stripped off. A modern butress now supports the western elevation.

The jamb, which projects beyond both the W and the N walls of the main tower, is 5.5m in width and projects 5.1m from the W half of the S wall of the main tower. It is extremely fragmentary, standing only to first-floor level, obscured by ivy, and now partial incorporated in a garden wall. The remains include a soil outlet for a latrine, or latrines, contained within the W wall.

The tower had two entrances, both through the E wall of the main block: a semicircular-headed doorway at ground floor level and a square-headed doorway at first, which would have been reached by a forestair. The accommodation within the tower comprised a single chamber on each floor of the main tower and the jamb. The first-floor hall in the main block has a small fireplace in the N wall and was lit by windows through the E and S walls, which retain their glazing checks. The S window on the first floor has one surviving window seat, and its original metal grill.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in shape, with maximum dimensions of 28m N-S and 22m transversely to include the upstanding masonry and an area around it, within which associated remains are expected to survive: as marked in red on the accompanying map extract. A modern garden wall defines the SW and NW limits of the scheduled area. The modern garden wall, including a section projecting from the S corner of the tower, is excluded from scheduling, as are the modern sheds projecting from the jamb's E corner.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a relatively well-preserved, and unaltered, fifteenth-century tower house which contributes to our understanding of such medieval defensive and domestic structures, their social history and material culture. The associated below-ground remains have the potential to enhance our knowledge of these matters through further archaeological investigation.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monument is recorded in the RCAHMS as NT 06 SE 4.

Aerial photographs:

1. RCAHMS (1983) ML/6014 NT06SE4.

2. RCAHMS (1983) ML/6018 NT06SE4.

3. RCAHMS (1983) ML/6019 NT06SE4.


M'Call, H. B. (1894) The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Mid-Calder with some account of the religious house of Torphichen, founded upon record, Edinburgh.

MacGibbon, D. and Ross, T. (1887-92) The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, 5v, Edinburgh, vol. 5, 267.

RCAHMS (1929) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Tenth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the counties of Midlothian and West Lothian, Edinburgh, 140, No. 175.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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