Balcomie Castle is a 16th Century L-plan tower house of five storeys and a garret, to which has been added an 18th century house. It consists of a main block and offset square wing, which only joins the main block at one corner. A small stair tower is corbelled out in one re-entrant angle, linking the first and second floors. Two two-storey bartizans, both with shot-holes, crown the wing's gable. The small gatehouse also survives. There is a walled garden. The fine plastered ceilings from here were taken to Dean Castle, near Kilmarnock. The lands were held by John de Balcomie in 1375, although nothing of the surviving castle is earlier than 16th century. The property passed in 1526 to the Learmonths of Clatto. Mary of Guise stayed at Balcomie after landing at Fifeness on her way to marry James V. Sir James Learmonth of Balcomie was one of the Fife Adventurers who, in 1598, tried to take land on Lewis and was slain for his pains. In 1705 Balcomie passed to the Hopes, then later to the Scotts of Scotstarvit, then the Erskine Earls of Kellie. The castle is now used as a farmhouse. The building is said to be haunted by the spirit of a young man. The lad was starved to death because he would not stop whistling - which seems a little harsh.

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Benholm Castle

Standing above a ravine, Benholm Castle consists of a 15th century keep, square in plan, of four storeys with a more modern mansion attached. The keep had a crenellated corbelled-out parapet with open rounds at three corners. The stair was crowned by a square caphouse and watch-chamber. The entrance led to two vaulted chambers in the basement. The hall, on the first floor, had a large fireplace, and windows with stone seats.

Benholm was a property of the Lundie family, who built the castle, but later passed to the Ogilvies, then the Keith Earls Marishal. It was from here that in 1623 the 5th Earls widow stole money and jewels ‘to a great amount’. The property was sold to the Scotts in 1659, who added a large mansion. The house was used as a hospital by Polish troops during World War II, but was abandoned and became ruinous. It was about to be restored when a storm in 1992 brought down half the keep.

The castle is said to be haunted.

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17th-century A-Listed building, Caroline Park House (NT27NW 3), lies partially within the Central Development Area.

 

The first phase of work comprised an archaeological evaluation along the route of the transport spine for the development and parts of the Upper Strand of Caroline Park.

 

The evaluation demonstrated that preservation of archaeological features is variable across the development area. Since the 1830s increasing industrialisation of Caroline Park has taken place. Much of the development area comprises made ground associated with industrial activity, which has removed all trace of either garden, designed landscape or earlier features. However, there are pockets of survival within the development area where features associated with the former designed landscape are preserved. A programme of excavation was undertaken to examine these areas further.

 

Excavation at three areas of archaeological sensitivity uncovered features which corresponded with features recorded on maps of the estate, thus clarifying the layout of the designed landscape and providing details on construction methods and stratigraphic relationships.

 

At the eastern end of the avenue approaching Caroline Park House from the E, a small stub of upstanding wall survived, while the evaluation produced a curved length of wall. The excavations revealed a semi-circular revetment wall approximately 19m in external diameter. Two returns were present on the N and S sides of the semi-circle, the S measuring 2m long and the N measuring 4.5m long. Each had been truncated by past ground removal works to allow construction of the railway line and an industrial premises. The wall had a slight batter to it and was leaning towards the interior of the semi-circle, and only the external wall face was faced. Remnants of a white mortar/plaster finish on the exterior wall face was not present on the inner side. A metric survey was undertaken of the elevation of this wall. It seems likely that the semi-circular wall functioned as a ha-ha, with the internal deposits considerably higher than the external ground surface. The eastern avenue may have functioned as a grassy vista culminating in a ha-ha to provide unencumbered views out to the Firth of Forth and North Berwick Law. The structure is shown as two conjoined semi-circles on a map of 1768, its earliest known depiction.

 

Two gravel-surfaced roads were discovered, the first measuring 22 x 4m, comprising the remains of the main carriageway approaching the house from the S, as illustrated on 18th-century historical maps of the estate. The second comprised a road measuring 15.0 x 2.8m running through the estate, lying immediately to the S of the former formal walled gardens adjacent to the house. Its position suggests that it may be the W end of the eastern avenue or it may be a road subsidiary and to the S of this avenue, as indicated on Edgar's map of 1740

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Harden House

Harden (NR) on site of Tower (NR) OS 25" map (1967) Strongly situated above a deep ravine, the present house of Harden dates from the 17th century. It succeded an earlier tower which was destroyed about 1590. The house has been considerably added to and rearranged internally between 1680-90 and again in the 19th century. These additions have all been erected on the N side, and have not altered the appearance of the original S front. The earliest work was an oblong house of two storeys and an attic, measuring 74 ft 9 ins E-W by 18 ft 3 ins. This was extended 25 ft 8 ins to the E in 1680. Robert Scott bought Harden from Lord Home in 1501; the family removed to Merton late in the 18th century and thereafter it degenerated to a farmhouse. It was restored in the mid-19th century and is now the seat of Lord Polwarth. A 17th century sundial from Dryburgh House stands E of the house. It is 4 ft high with a moulded base, twisted shaft, and square dial-stone. On the W of the house there is a bowling green which may be as old as the 17th century.