Redhall Castle is thought to have been built in the 13th century, but the last remains of it were removed and used to build Redhall House in the mid-18th century.
Also known as Reidhall, Redhall Castle was the principle building in the old barony of Redhall, and stood on a promontory overlooking the Water of Leith. It was defended on three sides by steep slopes, the only convenient access onto the promontory being from the east.
It isn’t clear what form the castle took, however in 1929 it was apparently possible to see the footings of a semi-circular tower around 2.1m in diameter, with walls 0.7m thick. This really doesn’t give much of a clue as to what Redhall Castle looked like.
By the 16th century Redhall Castle was owned by the Otterburn family, having been inherited by Sir Adam Otterburn of Auldhame in 1533.
Adam Otterburn was a lawyer and diplomat, King’s Advocate from 1524 until 1538, and was the Lord Provost of Edinburgh several times between 1522 and 1547.
Following the death of Sir Thomas Otterburn early in the 17th century (some time between 1609 and 1620), Redhall Castle passed to the Hamilton family through marriage. Anne Otterburn, a daughter of Sir Thomas, had married Sir James Hamilton of Hoprig, and their sons Sir James and Andrew were styled Hamilton of Redhall.
In August 1650 Redhall Castle was attacked by Oliver Cromwell, who had set up his guns across the Water of Leith at what is now Dovecot Grove. Sir James Hamilton of Redhall, together with sixty men, held Redhall Castle for two days. It wasn’t until they ran out of ammunition that Cromwell’s troops were able to get close to lay charges at the entrance and blow it up on the 24th of August. It seems that Redhall Castle was never rebuilt following this attack, as soon after it had fallen into ruin.
Redhall Castle was sold in 1672 by Andrew Hamilton of Redhall, the brother of Sir James, although to whom is unclear, possibly to Sir John Maitland, the 1st Duke of Lauderdale, or perhaps to John Chiesley of Gorgie. In 1681 Redhall seems to have been bought by James Brand of Baberton.
In 1755 George Inglis of Auchendinny bought the estate, and commissioned the architect James Robertson to build Redhall House.
Redhall Castle was demolished and the stone used in the construction of Redhall House, which was finished in 1758 at a cost of £928 17 shillings and 9 pence. A hexagonal dovecot was built nearby at a cost of some £40, and a heraldic panel from Redhall Castle, bearing the arms of Adam Otterburn, was installed above the door on the north side.
In the 20th century Redhall House was acquired by the Edinburgh Corporation, and in 1944 it became a children’s home. Two schools were built in the grounds in 1978, but by 2007 both had closed and Redhall House and the surrounding land were sold to a developer.
A new housing estate was built, and the dovecot restored, although plans to convert Redhall House into flats have not yet been carried out. Throughout this time the site of Redhall Castle seems to have remained relatively untouched, and the promontory is now just covered with rough grass.