Liberton Tower is a four-storey rectangular tower house. It was originally constructed in the 1480s or 1490s by the Dalmahoy family.
The tower occupies a commanding position on the east side of the Braid Hills, on a hill opposite the Royal Observatory. There are panoramic views of Edinburgh from the roof parapet and it's possible to see across the centre of Edinburgh to Edinburgh Castle and east to Craigmillar Castle.
During its short life as a dwelling Liberton Tower passed from the Dalmahoy family to the Forrester family and finally to the Little family who still own it today in the name of Liberton Trust. The Littles abandoned it as a dwelling in favour of the more comfortable and luxurious Liberton House which they constructed nearby in 1587. By 1610 Liberton Tower had been abandoned to agricultural use as a store house, byre and piggery.
Its early abandonment was a blessing in disguise. Unlike nearby Craigmillar Castle which was extensively altered and changed over the years, Liberton was left as it was originally constructed. As a result it is an unspoilt 15th Century tower house uncluttered by later embellishments.
As a defensive measure typical to the period, the original entrance to the house was via a drawbridge to a doorway set in the first floor. The drawbridge would have been easy to knock or burn away if the tower were ever attacked.
The entrance leads directly into the Great Hall which would have been used for dining and entertaining. It contains a large fireplace and is decorated with oak furniture and wall hangings.
The thick walls are also typical for the late 16th Century and they contain three stairwells leading to the upper and lower floors.
The ground floor would have originally been used for storage and it features a barrel-vaulted ceiling and original iron-work. The top floor has a similar barrel-vaulted roof and was originally private chambers for the laird.
After spending almost 400 years as an agricultural building, Liberton Tower was leased to the Castles of Scotland Preservation Trust who took over the running of the tower in 1992. They undertook an extensive archaeological survey and renovation of the tower.
Much of the interior of the tower was badly degraded when the restoration project began. Its use as a glorified barn and lack of maintenance resulted in damage to the roof and interior floors.
The restoration kept as many of the original features as possible, so Liberton Tower still has slit windows; garderobe spaces; a carved panel showing the Dalmahoy family crest and a 'lairds lug' (a small listening hole) on the north stairwell for listening in to conversations in the great hall.
Today Liberton Tower is available as a holiday property. The ground floor has been converted to a modern kitchen and spacious bathroom. The top floor has been split into two bedrooms spaces and a ladder leads up on to the parapet roof.
The Vivat Trust looks after the property and Liberton Tower has participated in the Doors Open Days project run by the Scottish Civic Trust. On particular days each year the tower is open to the public and tour guides are on hand to take you around the tower and let you explore its history.
Status: Holiday Let
Owner: Castles of Scotland Preservation Trust / Vivat Trust
Tel: 0845 090 0194 / +44 1981 550 753
Opening Times: Available for hire / Doors Open Day Events
The entrance to Liberton Tower
View of Edinburgh from the roof
The stairwell in the walls