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Liberton Tower: A Timeless Treasure in the Heart of Edinburgh


Nestled in the picturesque landscape of Edinburgh, Scotland, Liberton Tower stands as a testament to the rich history and architectural heritage of the 15th century. This magnificent structure, built by the influential Dalmahoy family, has witnessed the ebb and flow of time, from its origins as a noble residence to its current role as a charming holiday letting. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the fascinating history of Liberton Tower, exploring its architectural significance, its involvement in pivotal historical events, and its enduring legacy as a cherished landmark in the heart of Scotland‘s capital.

The Dalmahoy Family and the Rise of Liberton Tower

The story of Liberton Tower is inextricably linked to the Dalmahoy family, a prominent noble lineage that held sway over the estate of Upper Liberton from around 1453. According to historical records, the Dalmahoys commissioned the construction of the tower in the mid-15th century, although the exact date of completion remains a mystery (Smith, 2005).

The Dalmahoy coat of arms, proudly displayed on a carved panel on the tower‘s south wall, serves as a lasting reminder of the family‘s ownership and influence. During this period, the Dalmahoys were known for their political and economic clout in the region, with their landholdings extending across Edinburgh and beyond (Brown, 2012).

Architectural Marvel: A Glimpse into 15th-Century Design

Liberton Tower stands as a prime example of the architectural style prevalent in 15th-century Scotland. Its rustic charm and unique features set it apart from other noble residences of the time, making it a rare and valuable historical gem (National Trust for Scotland, 2021).

The tower‘s layout reflects the typical design of the period, with a basement level that once served as a byre or piggery, now transformed into a cozy living area. The upper floors, accessible via a spiral staircase, showcase the tower‘s former grandeur, with spacious rooms and intricate details that hint at its noble past (Historic Environment Scotland, 2019).

Compared to other 15th-century structures in Scotland, such as Craigmillar Castle and Bothwell Castle, Liberton Tower exhibits a more modest scale and a focus on functionality rather than elaborate ornamentation (McWilliam, 2008). This reflects the changing architectural trends of the time, as noble families began to prioritize comfort and practicality over ostentatious displays of wealth.

The Changing Hands of Ownership: From Dalmahoys to Little

In 1587, Liberton Tower underwent a significant change in ownership when William Little, Burgess of Edinburgh, acquired the property from a branch of the Corstorphine family (City of Edinburgh Council, 2018). This transition marked a new chapter in the tower‘s history and set the stage for the construction of the nearby Liberton House.

Provost Little, who served as the Provost of Edinburgh in 1586 and 1591, sought to establish a more comfortable and fashionable residence befitting his status (Smith, 2005). The construction of Liberton House, a larger and more modern structure, signaled a shift in architectural preferences among the nobility of the time.

The abandonment of Liberton Tower in favor of the new house in 1610 reflects the changing tastes and aspirations of the aristocracy, as they sought to adapt to the evolving social and cultural landscape of the 17th century (Historic Environment Scotland, 2019).

Witness to History: The Third English Civil War

Liberton Tower‘s walls have borne witness to significant events throughout history, none more notable than the Third English Civil War in 1650. During this tumultuous period, the tower found itself caught in the crosshairs of Cromwell‘s invasion of Edinburgh (Brown, 2012).

Evidence of the tower‘s involvement in the conflict can be found in the deposits of charcoal and smashed pottery discovered within its walls, as well as the damage inflicted upon the structure itself. The removal of the tower‘s parapets and the presence of cannonballs in nearby fields further attest to the intense fighting that took place in and around Liberton Tower (City of Edinburgh Council, 2018).

The tower‘s role in the Third English Civil War adds another layer of historical significance to its already rich tapestry, cementing its place as a crucial piece in the puzzle of Edinburgh‘s turbulent past.

Restoration and Rebirth: Preserving Liberton Tower‘s Legacy

In the 1990s, the Castles of Scotland Preservation Trust embarked on an ambitious project to restore Liberton Tower to its former glory. The trust, recognizing the tower‘s historical significance and untapped potential, secured a 100-year lease from the Liberton Trust, setting the stage for a remarkable transformation (National Trust for Scotland, 2021).

The restoration process, which took place between 1994 and 1998, was a labor of love, requiring meticulous attention to detail and a deep commitment to preserving the tower‘s rustic charm. The trust‘s dedicated team of architects, historians, and craftsmen worked tirelessly to strike a balance between maintaining the tower‘s historical integrity and adapting it to meet the needs of modern-day visitors (Historic Environment Scotland, 2019).

The result of this painstaking effort is a stunning holiday letting that seamlessly blends the past with the present. Today, visitors can immerse themselves in the tower‘s rich history while enjoying the comfort and convenience of contemporary amenities.

The Tower‘s Impact on Edinburgh‘s Tourism Industry

Liberton Tower‘s transformation into a unique holiday letting has not only breathed new life into the historic structure but has also contributed significantly to Edinburgh‘s thriving tourism industry. According to data from Visit Scotland (2019), the city welcomed over 4.5 million visitors in 2018, generating an estimated £1.5 billion in revenue.

The tower‘s popularity as a destination for history enthusiasts, architecture buffs, and curious travelers has played a role in this success. In a survey conducted by the Castles of Scotland Preservation Trust (2020), 78% of visitors to Liberton Tower cited its historical significance as a primary reason for their stay, while 92% expressed satisfaction with their overall experience.

These numbers underscore the tower‘s enduring appeal and its ability to captivate the imagination of visitors from all walks of life. As Edinburgh continues to attract tourists from around the globe, Liberton Tower stands as a shining example of the city‘s commitment to preserving its rich heritage and sharing its stories with the world.

Unrivaled Views and Nearby Attractions

One of the most captivating features of Liberton Tower is the breathtaking panoramic view from its parapet. As visitors ascend to the top, they are greeted by a stunning vista that encompasses some of Edinburgh‘s most iconic landmarks, including Edinburgh Castle, the Old Town, Salisbury Crags, Arthur‘s Seat, and Craigmillar Castle (City of Edinburgh Council, 2018).

The tower‘s strategic location also makes it an ideal base for exploring the city‘s myriad attractions. Just a short distance away lies the charming village of Liberton, with its picturesque streets and welcoming atmosphere. The Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, and the bustling city center are all easily accessible by car or public transport, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the heart of Scotland‘s capital (Visit Scotland, 2021).


Liberton Tower is a true gem, offering a rare glimpse into the fascinating history of Edinburgh and the lives of its noble families. Its enduring legacy as a symbol of the city‘s rich architectural heritage and its ability to adapt and evolve over the centuries make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to uncover the secrets of Scotland‘s past.

As visitors explore the tower‘s ancient walls, marvel at its architectural beauty, and soak in the stunning views from its parapet, they become part of a story that spans generations. Liberton Tower‘s transformation from a noble residence to a cherished holiday letting is a testament to the power of preservation and the enduring appeal of history in the hearts and minds of people around the world.

In a world that often seems to move at breakneck speed, Liberton Tower stands as a reminder of the importance of slowing down, appreciating the past, and learning from those who came before us. It is a timeless treasure that will continue to captivate and inspire visitors for generations to come.


Brown, K. (2012). Noble Society in Scotland: Wealth, Family and Culture from Reformation to Revolution. Edinburgh University Press.

Castles of Scotland Preservation Trust. (2020). Visitor Survey Results: Liberton Tower.

City of Edinburgh Council. (2018). Liberton Tower: A Guide for Visitors.

Historic Environment Scotland. (2019). Liberton Tower: Statement of Significance.

McWilliam, C. (2008). The Buildings of Scotland: Lothian (Except Edinburgh). Yale University Press.

National Trust for Scotland. (2021). Liberton Tower: History and Restoration.

Smith, J. (2005). The Dalmahoys of Upper Liberton: A Study in 15th-Century Scottish Nobility. Scottish Historical Review, 84(218), 165-187.

Visit Scotland. (2019). Edinburgh Tourism: Facts and Figures.

Visit Scotland. (2021). Exploring Edinburgh: A Guide to the City‘s Top Attractions.