Merchiston Castle

Merchiston Castle

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Merchiston Castle

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Merchiston Castle or Merchiston Tower was probably built by Alexander Napier, the second Laird of Merchiston around 1454. It serves as the seat for Clan Napier. It is perhaps most notable for being the home of John Napier, the 8th Laird of Merchiston, inventor of logarithms who was born there in 1550.


The lands surrounding the castle were acquired in 1438 by Alexander Napier, the first Laird of Merchiston, and remained in the Napier family for most of the following five centuries.

Merchiston Castle was probably built as a country house, but its strategic position and the turbulent political situation required it to be heavily fortified - with some walls as much as six feet thick - and it was frequently under siege. During restoration in the 1960s a twenty-six pound cannon-ball was found embedded in the Tower, thought to date from the struggle in 1572 between Mary, Queen of Scots, and supporters of her son, James VI.

In 1659, the castle was sold to Ninian Lowis, in whose family it remained until 1729, when it was sold to the governors of George Watson's hospital. The tower was reacquired by the Napier of Merchiston family when Francis Napier, 6th Lord Napier bought it in 1752.

In 1772, a year before the sixth Lord's death, the Tower was sold to a relative, Charles Hope-Weir, second son of John Hope, 2nd Earl of Hopetoun. Weir sold it in 1775 to Robert Turner, a lawyer, who sold it in 1785 to Robert Blair, a professor of astronomy at Edinburgh University.

The Napier...
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