Saltcoats Castle, East Lothian, and the Livingstones – A Talk by David Sowerby

The December 2023 talk for DDHS was by member David Sowerby and he kindly sent three slides, plus a link to the talk, for this post. David’s introduction to the talk was “The ruins of Saltcoats Castle lie just south of Gullane. It was the home of the Livingstone family over several centuries. Illustrated by many photographs, we will consider the ruins of the castle to work out how it operated as a family home, how it was built and what simple defensive provisions were made for the family’s security. The information presented can be used to help you  understand any other smaller castle/tower/fortified house sites you may visit.

The first photo below shows the façade of the castle and David’s comments were that the façade shows that the building was more than a house for the Livingstone family as it mimics a medieval gatehouse. The windows are asymmetrical and this not unusual for the time when the castle was built in 1590. See here for a brief history and more photos of the castle. At the foot of the castle, some shot holes can be seen, some are quite decorative and there is some evidence of roof drainage. You can read more about shot holes in castle walls here.

Castle façade (Click on all photos to enlarge – recommended)

The second slide below shows an aerial view of the castle with surrounding fields. David zoomed in to this shot and pointed out that the walls of the castle were originally the garden walls. This view of the castle shows that, in terms of defence, it was ideally situated as any approaching enemy would be seen from all sides of the castle.

Aerial view of Saltcoats Castle

The third slide shows the coat of  arms of the early Livingstone family and the fourth slide below shows information on William Levington de Saltcoats. You can read more about the family and see more photos of  the castle here.

Early coat of arms of the Livingstones

To see all the slides and listen to David’s talk, see here.