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Roslin Castle

A grand semi-ruined castle overlooking the River Esk.

TravelCurious Tip

You can in fact stay in the Castle if you wish — but some do say it is haunted

Rosslyn is a romantic’s dream: a crumbling castle, dramatic landscape, and an ornate, mysterious chapel. As the Scottish poet Sir Walter Scott wrote, “A morning of leisure can scarcely be anywhere more delightfully spent than in the woods of Rosslyn.”


About seven miles south of Edinburgh, the partially ruined Roslin Castle is built into the cliffs of Roslin Glen. It stands precipitously over a loop of the River North Esk, which protects it on three sides. It is accessible only by a high bridge, which replaced an earlier drawbridge.


It is clearly a formidable defensive position — but that’s done little to prevent it being sacked and burnt a number of times over the centuries. It was first destroyed during the War of the Rough Wooing in 1544, when the Earl of Hertford was commanded by Henry VIII to “put all to fire and sword” in Scotland. Edinburgh, Leith and Craigmillar Castles all suffered the same fate.


Then in 1650, following the Battle of Dunbar, Cromwell’s troops sacked the castle, leaving what stands today. General Monk allegedly demonstrated his contempt for pomp by stabling his horses in the chapel. After such treatment, Rosslyn’s treasures are now thankfully rather better looked after.


A little Gallic style

Sir William, the third earl of Orkney, was responsible for much of the castle’s design, including the strong French influence, as seen in the curious round buttresses — he had spent much time gallivanting around France. He was also responsible for the extraordinary Rosslyn Chapel; at the time his family was so wealthy they dined on gold and silver ware.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Edinburgh
George Heriot's School
An outstanding example of Scots Renaissance architecture, now known worldwide as a mecca for Harry Potter fans.
Rosslyn Chapel
Scotland's medieval masterpiece is among its most beautiful heritage attractions.
Nicolson's Cafe / Spoon
Claimed to be the birthplace of Harry Potter, Nicolson's Cafe has now been replaced by Spoons.
Elephant House
Go inside and sit at Rowling's favourite table!
Greyfriars Kirkyard
For over five centuries, Greyfriars Kirkyard has been home to hauntings and wizards. Look out for McGonagall or something more spine-chilling, like one Tom Riddle.
George Heriot’s School / Hogwarts
Spot as many similarities as you can between George Heriot’s School and Hogwarts!

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