By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer
Seton Castle, located outside Edinburgh, is on the market for $9.7 million, according to Bloomberg. Once a palace, the property was torn down and its stones reused for its current incarnation. The castle is as historic as the city itself.
According to the Bloomberg article, tech entrepreneur Stephen Leach bought Seton Castle in 2003. The long-standing dwelling had been in the hands of aristocrats for nearly 800 years prior, including its time as Seton Palace, where Mary Queen of Scots once stayed. The residence is a 20-minute drive from Edinburgh and constitutes just one facet of the city’s rich history.
Walking the Royal Mile
Edinburgh’s “Royal Mile” is a mile-long uphill road that begins with Holyrood Palace and ends with Edinburgh Castle. Holyrood Palace is the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh; whereas, Edinburgh Castle is the famous fortress-turned-tourist attraction that overlooks the city.
“As you begin to climb the Royal Mile, you’ll come first to the Scottish Parliament building, a structure famous for its architectural daring and for its breathtaking delays and cost overruns,” said Dr. Patrick N. Allitt, Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University. “It was begun in 1999 and completed in 2004, three years late. Originally estimated to cost around £20 million, it finally cost £414 million, which prompted more than a few questions from irritable taxpayers, plus an official inquiry.”
Inside the Parliament, Dr. Allitt said, visitors will find pale wood, concrete, exposed metal, unusual angles, and other intriguing and eye-catching structural elements of modern architecture.
Further up the Mile, you’ll encounter a graveyard adjacent to Canongate church. Among other notable names, one Adam Smith is buried at Canongate, who Dr. Allitt describes as “the moral philosopher and pioneering economist who in 1776 published An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.” Smith’s Inquiry was tremendously insightful about economics and human nature; and in it, he foresaw many of the major components of the Industrial Revolution, which was just beginning at the time of the book’s publication.
Edinburgh’s High Points
Perched on the edge of several insurmountable cliffs, the Edinburgh Castle concludes the Royal Mile. “It’s been a fortress since at least the 12th century,” Dr. Allitt said. “Twenty-six sieges over the centuries have made it one of the most fought-over points in Britain. No single site in the whole of Scotland is more magnetically attractive; one and a half million people visit every year.”
And yet, Edinburgh Castle is just one of three of the city’s great high points, along with Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat. Dr. Allitt said that when the weather is just right, it’s possible to see the whole city from Calton Hill. The top of the site is adorned with monuments from the 18th and 19th centuries, including, as he put it, “a tower shaped like an inverted telescope, commemorating Admiral Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.”
Finally, Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano open to the public. “It’s wild country, yet it’s right next to the capital,” Dr. Allitt said. “Easy to climb from most directions, it’s also adjacent to the jagged Salisbury Crags, a cliff face into which a track called ‘The Radical Road’ was hewn by unemployed workmen in 1820. Even at 10:00 p.m. in the evening, in June and July, it’s light enough to see far horizons in every direction.”
Stephen Leach and his family are leaving behind the life of living in a historic site—located near several others—by putting Seton Castle up for sale. Any parties interested in purchasing it will find it listed in Savills.
Dr. Patrick N. Allitt contributed to this article. Dr. Allitt is Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University, where he has taught since 1988. The holder of a doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Allitt is also an Oxford University graduate.