Rosslyn Castle

Roslin, near Edinburgh - Sleeps 7

About this Landmark

Mainly built around 1450, Rosslyn Castle is situated on a truly dramatic site; on a tree-covered spine of rock rising steeply from the River Esk, which surrounds it on three sides. 

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Logs availableLogs available
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • Outside Dining FurnitureOutside Dining Furniture
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • ShowerShower

Beds 1 Single, 2 Twin, 1 Double

  • Sleeps 7
  • 4 nights from £495
  • equivalent to £17.68 per person, per night

Dramatic Castle

The castle watches over picturesque glen on one side while on the other there is a less wild landscape of lawns and ancient ruined walls, and is situated a short distance from the centre of Edinburgh.

The castle is a comfortable home with panelled rooms, moulded plaster ceilings and open fires. Most of the Castle was built around 1450 by William, Prince of Orkney. The older fortifications survive only as ruins, but shortly before 1600, Sir William Sinclair replaced the east curtain wall with a more comfortable dwelling, but one which still contains an element of drama. On one side a modest two storey building, on the other it drops five storeys down the side of the rock to reach the ground 60 feet below. Left empty for long periods, the habitable rooms have been restored and furnished by the present Earl of Rosslyn.

The Rosslyn estate 

The Rosslyn estate has been held by the St. Clairs since the early 14th century. Rosslyn has long been famous for its picturesque valley, enhanced by the St. Clairs with two extraordinary buildings – an ancient castle and the breathtaking Rosslyn Chapel. The chapel represents the pinnacle of the 15th century stonemason’s craft, embellished on every surface with imagery that made it a place of mysticism and pilgrimage through centuries of dereliction.

Earl and Countess of Rosslyn

The present Earl and Countess of Rosslyn have been instrumental in the chapel’s ongoing restoration. To support their efforts to keep this ancient inheritance together, we let Rosslyn Castle on their behalf. 

Floor Plans

‘The Castle is a marvellous base for the Edinburgh Festival.’

‘A wild and spectacular setting – it’s easy to see why Turner wanted to paint it.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

Rosslyn Castle has an enclosed garden as well as other outside space amongst the ruined walls. Roslin Glen has a web of footpaths down to the river and at the top of the Glen stands the remarkable Rosslyn Chapel. We have a special arrangement with Rosslyn Chapel, where a daily entry ticket to the chapel/visitor centre will be valid for the duration of your visit. The Roslin Glen Walk is an excellent way to explore this area.

The city of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is just 7 miles away. The  CastleZooNational Museum of ScotlandPalace of Holyroodhouse and The Georgian House are just some of the fantastic array of attractions to keep you entertained in this vibrant city. 

Portobello Beach, just outside Edinburgh, is a traditional seaside resort where you can stroll along the promenade, overlooking the sandy beach, or relax in the unique surroundings of the Turkish Baths.  

For more information on things to do during your stay at Rosslyn Castle, please see our Pinterest page.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

 

See all our Landmarks at Roslin

Rosslyn Castle
Roslin, near Edinburgh - Sleeps 7
Clear directions

‘The Castle is a marvellous base for the Edinburgh Festival.’

‘A wild and spectacular setting – it’s easy to see why Turner wanted to paint it.’

From the logbook

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via an unmade road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Edinburgh Waverley – 8 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There is a parking area for three cars adjacent to the property. 
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There are electric night storage heaters and an open fire.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also an electric cooker.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a bath. There is an additional separate wc.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    There are stairs are steep, spiral and narrow.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is a garden (not enclosed).

    Booking and Payment

  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact [email protected]
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

A fortification here since at least the 14th century

Rosslyn is famous for three things - an ancient castle, its extraordinary chapel and a valley full of scenic romance. In the words of Sir Walter Scott, 'A morning of leisure can scarcely be anywhere more delightfully spent than in the woods of Rosslyn'. There has probably always been some form of fortification on the site of Rosslyn Castle, an almost insulated rock overhanging the glen of the Esk - certainly since at least the beginning of the 14th century, and maybe much earlier.

William de St Clair, who came from Normandy with William the Conqueror, obtained from Malcolm Canmore a great part of the lands of the barony of Roslin, and he may well have built some sort of edifice on his new possessions.

The present Castle dates from various periods having suffered a chequered history, but the earliest standing part is the remains of the tower by the present bridge, and this was probably built shortly after the Battle of Rosslyn in 1302. This crushing defeat of the English involved a small Scottish army fighting three battles against different English forces all on the same day; the first contest took place on the Bilston Burn, and the second and third between Dryden and Hawthornden. A brief account appears later in this album. Local names perpetuate the sites: Shin-bones Field, where bones have been found when ploughing; the ‘Hewings’, where there was great slaughter; and the ‘Killburn’, a stream that ran red for three days.

The only access to the Castle was then, as it is now, along a one arched bridge across a deep gully. Originally the gap would have been crossed by a drawbridge between ashlar piers of which only the one to the south remains. The entrance was defended by a gate of great strength, the remains of which are just visible today; it is shown in the pre 1700 drawings. But as the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland (1871) points out, 'though highly pleasant and romantic, (the site) is very ill chosen for a fortalice; for while it finely overlooks the sylvan stream below, it is itself commanded by heights which press closely on its precincts, and look almost right down upon the tops of its chimneys'.

The rounded keep on the south-west corner was added about 1400 by Henry St Clair, the second Prince of Orkney. His son, Sir William, considerably enlarged and strengthened the castle. It was this Sir William who had travelled extensively in France and this probably explains the strong French influence in the design, such as the curious round buttresses which are similar to the Chateau of Guillard on the Seine. He was also responsible for the justly famous Rosslyn Chapel, begun in 1446, and described as a ‘Bible in stone’, renowned for its richly carved interior. At this time, the St Clair family was wealthy enough to dine from gold and silver ware. When Sir William’s wife, Lady Elizabeth, undertook to visit the family house in Edinburgh, she had an escort of 200 men on horseback. Sir William was so rich and powerful that he could even mint his own coins.

No sooner had the works been completed than a fire destroyed part of them in 1447, caused by a lady in waiting looking for a dog under a bed and setting the bedclothes alight with her candle. The fire spread rapidly, ravaging a large part of the Castle. According to legend, this event was heralded by a mysterious warning. Edward St Clair of Dryden, riding hounds to meet Sir William, met a great company of rats. Amongst these, being led by the rest, was an old blind rat with a straw in its mouth.

This damage was repaired, and remained intact for nearly a century, until in 1544, the Castle was set on fire again, this time by the English under the Earl of Hertford, instructed by Henry VIII to 'put all to fire and sword' in Scotland. Edinburgh, Leith and Craigmillar Castles all suffered the same fate as Rosslyn. But the Castle was repaired again and from 1580 more buildings along the south-east side of the courtyard were erected by another Sir William including the clock tower and the great hall, underneath which three lower floors go down a further 50 feet to the solid rock. The fine moulded fireplace in the now ruinous hall bears a shield with the arms and initials of Sir William and his wife, Jean Edmonston and the date 1597.

The vaults below the present Landmark, provided the kitchens, bakery and store rooms for Sir William’s more domestic quarters. They are described in the Gazetteer - 'a descent of a great number of stone-stairs conducts through part of the existing structure to the bottom, and leads into a large kitchen, whence a door opens into a once famous garden'. These 'lower apartments are ill-lighted and confined, and possess far more of the coldness and gloom of a prison than the comfort and convenience of a modern residence'.

In 1622, the date over the front door and on the sitting room ceiling, Sir William’s son, yet another William, completed the Castle by finishing the range his father had begun, adding confident Renaissance detailing and fine plaster ceilings. Alas, this was to be short lived. In 1650, after the disaster at the Battle of Dunbar, Cromwell’s troops under the command of General Monk, besieged the Castle with four cannon, a mortar, and 600 troops. The walls were battered down and the Castle sacked and slighted, leaving only what stands today. Monk displayed his contempt for idolatry and pomp by stabling his horses in the chapel.

The Castle never recovered, and by 1788 the remains were described as 'haggard and utterly dilapidated'. The Gazetteer described them thus in 1871 - 'the mere wreck of a great pile riding on a little sea of forest, and not far from contact with commanding rocks, - a rueful apology for the once grand fabric'. The combination of decayed Castle, ornate chapel and dramatic scenery fired the romantic imagination throughout the 19th century, and Rosslyn became an essential stop on any Scottish itinerary. Turner came here to paint, and Dorothy Wordsworth was to write 'I never passed through a more delicious dell than the glen of Rosslyn'.

For much of the 20th century the Castle was occupied by a tenant, but when Miss Leech died in 1980, it fell victim to vandals who used the panelling for firewood. When the current 7th Earl of Rosslyn inherited it on his father’s death in 1977, a rescue package was drawn up.

On behalf of Lord Rosslyn

The restoration was completed in 1984 and the first Landmarkers stayed in the summer of 1985. Unusually for us, the Landmark Trust does not own or lease Rosslyn Castle, but as an experiment we let it on behalf of Lord Rosslyn. This experiment proved to be a great success and in 2002 Collegehill House, which was built as an inn and stands next to the chapel, became a Landmark in its own right.

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.