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This building is in the Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Burgh. It is a category A building and was listed on 14/07/1966.

Group Items: N/A, Group Cat: N/A, Map Ref: NT 2425 7180.


15th century, remodelled in 17th century; 5-storey and attic L-plan tower house, now incorporated into Napier University (1961); pink sandstone rubble; some chamfered dressings; corbelled parapet with rounded unroofed bartizans to corners of main block, rounded at corners of wing, stone waterspouts; gabled attic storey in roof space and circular cap-house.

SE (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: modern entrance (1958-64) accessed by concrete dog-leg stair at 2nd floor to left, tall rectangular opening with round-arched moulded doorway and heraldic carved panel; single window under doorway; blocked up basement window; single windows to 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor to right bay, single window to left of centre at 3rd floor; round cap-house with conical roof above parapet to outer left; shouldered wallhead stack to right of centre.

NW ELEVATION: advanced wing to right with off-set string course at 2nd floor, attic storey with crowstepped gable and apex stack, on return bipartite window at 2nd floor and single window at 3rd floor, pedimented dormer in attic storey; ground and 1st floor of main block obscured by modern enclosed walkway, 2 single windows above.

NE ELEVATION: main block with single window at ground floor; bipartite windows to 1st and 2nd; 2 arrowslit windows above; crowstepped gable to attic storey with apex stack.

SW ELEVATION: 2-storey modern addition; single windows to ground and 3rd floor to right; attic storey with crowstepped gable and apex stack to right, pedimented dormer to left. Multi-pane timber sash and case windows; Scottish slate roof, 2 apex and 1 wallhead stack (see above). INTERIOR: former hall (now principal's room or study) with heavily restored late medieval fireplace with nook-shafts and moulded capitals, ornate 17th century plaster ceiling with central pendant and various motifs among them reliefs of King David and Alexander the Great; former fireplace recess, lockers and serving hatch of kitchen still visible in wing; board room at 3rd floor (encompassing 4th floor) with bolection-moulded fireplace, modern gallery and transplanted painted timber ceiling of 1581 from Prestongrange House, East Lothian; some moulded stone surround fireplaces on upper floors.


Scheduled Monument. A later gateway is listed separately under Colinton Road, Napier University, Merchiston Castle Gateway. Merchiston Castle was the birthplace of John Napier (1550-1617), mathematician and inventor of logarithms. The castle remained largely in the hands of the Napier family, influential in Edinburgh during the 15th and 16th century, until the early 19th century when it became Merchiston Castle School. Additions made then to the castle such as large side wings were removed during the extensive restoration and refurbishment of the castle in the 1960s.


RCAMS Inv 185; MacRae Her 31; MacGibbon and Ross, CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND, vol III, pp263-8; Gifford et al., EDINBURGH (1984), pp497-8; M R Apted, THE PAINTED CEILINGS OF SCOTLAND 1550-1650 (Edinburgh, 1966), III.41,42.

© Crown copyright, Historic Scotland. All rights reserved. Mapping information derived from Ordnance Survey digital mapping products under Licence No. 100017509 2012 . Data extracted from Scottish Ministers' Statutory List on . Listing applies equally to the whole building or structure at the address set out in bold at the top of the list entry. This includes both the exterior and the interior, whether or not they are mentioned in the 'Information Supplementary to the Statutory List'. Listed building consent is required for all internal and external works affecting the character of the building. The local planning authority is responsible for determining where listed building consent will be required and can also advise on issues of extent or "curtilage" of the listing, which may cover items remote from the main subject of the listing such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. or interior fixtures. All category C(S) listings were revised to category C on 3rd September 2012. This was a non-statutory change. All enquiries relating to proposed works to a listed building or its setting should be addressed to the local planning authority in the first instance. All other enquiries should be addressed to: Listing & Designed Landscapes Team, Historic Scotland, Room G.51, Longmore House, Salisbury Place, EDINBURGH, EH9 1SH. Tel: +44 (0)131 668 8701 / 8705. Fax: +44 (0)131 668 8765. e-mail: hs.listing@scotland.gsi.gov.uk. Web: http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/historicandlistedbuildings.

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Buildings are assigned to one of three categories according to their relative importance. All listed buildings receive equal legal protection, and protection applies equally to the interior and exterior of all listed buildings regardless of category.

ACategory A

Buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic, or fine little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type. (Approximately 8% of the total).

BCategory B

Buildings of regional or more than local importance, or major examples of some particular period, style or building type which may have been altered. (Approximately 51% of the total).

C(S)Category C(S)

Buildings of local importance, lesser examples of any period, style, or building type, as originally constructed or moderately altered; and simple traditional buildings which group well with others in categories A and B. (Approximately 41% of the total).