Midlothian’s 100 Objects: Sketch of the ruined Fala Tower

A sketch, drawn in 1781, shows the ruins of Fala Tower. Photo: National Library of Scotland/Scran

A sketch, drawn in 1781, shows the ruins of Fala Tower. Photo: National Library of Scotland/Scran

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This sketch, drawn in 1781, shows the ruins of Fala Tower, which is located on Fala Moor, close to Crichton.

Although the name of the artist has not been included on the drawing, it is quite likely to have been George Henry Hutton.

While it is called Fala Tower, this building is likely to be the ruins of a 12th-century monastery. Built by monks of the Augustinian Order, this monastery was the highest in Britain, at 370 metres above sea level. Built on the site of an ancient Roman road, the monastery was located beside what was then the main land route into Scotland. Fala Tower is mentioned in verse eight (canto IV) of Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem, ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrel’.

Hutton (d. 1827), was a professional soldier and amateur antiquary. English by birth, he had an avid interest in Scottish monastic history, and built up an extensive collection of drawings, writings and artefacts relating mainly to ecclesiastic sites.

Hutton made sketches of many sites, and also commissioned drawings and architectural plans from friends and professionals. Despite speculation that he intended to produce a Scottish Monasticon, Hutton always insisted this research was purely for his own interest. The Hutton Collection is held by the National Library of Scotland, and these drawings date mainly from 1781-92 and 1811-20.

Photo: National Library of Scotland/Scran