Scotstarvit Tower seems to have been built in the second half of the 15th century, and was certainly in existence by 1475, when it was known as Tarvet. It stands on a slight rocky outcrop, rising above the surrounding land.
The estate was acquired by the Inglis family in 1487, and the tower was seemingly remodelled by them between 1550 and 1579. But in 1611 Alexander Inglis sold the property to Sir John Scot, who renamed it Scotstarvet after himself.
Sir John Scot was a Director of Chancery, member of the Privy Council and later a Lord of Session. In 1624 he received a charter of the two parts of the lands of Wester Pitcorthie, anciently owned by Dryburgh Abbey, from Sir William Anstruther of Anstruther. Perhaps as a result of his increasing status and fortunes, Sir John is said to have rebuilt the tower in 1627.
Scotstarvit Tower is a tall, simple tower, measuring around 10.1 metres by 8.2 metres, with a small wing measuring around 2.1 metres by 4.0 metres projecting to the south-east.
The entrance is at ground floor level, just to the west of the re-entrant angle. The door opens into a small hallway with access into the ground floor level ahead, and the spiral staircase leading up from the right.
The ground floor is a double height barrel-vaulted room, with corbels on the wall and twin windows one above the other indicating that it was originally split into two levels by a wooden floor.
The same arrangement continues higher up in the tower, the second and third floors being formed by the insertion of a wooden floor within a double height barrel-vaulted room.
Above that is the fourth floor, at the bottom of another double-height space. Again corbels on the wall show that this space would have been divided, with a garret level under the roof making six floors in total.
An ornate carved stone fireplace once warmed the garret level, but it was removed to Hill of Tarvit mansion house in the early 20th century. It is carved with the date 1627, the initials JS and AD for John Scot and his wife Anne Drummond, sister of Sir William Drummond of Hawthornden, and the arms of both families.
The spiral staircase continues up into a circular caphouse with conical roof. A door gives access to the parapet walk, and above the door is a carved armorial panel once again carrying the arms of John Scot and Anne Drummond and the date 1627.
Evidently there were originally ancillary buildings around the base of the tower, and probably also a courtyard wall, but these have now been removed and their place taken by a 19th century cottage.
Scotstarvit Tower remained in the Scot family until 1776, when, upon the death of John Scot’s great-great-grandson Major-General John Scot, a Member of Parliament for Fife, the male line failed. Scotstarvit passed to this John Scot’s eldest daughter, but she sold the estate to Oliver Gourlay of Craigrothie who then sold it soon after to Colonel Wemyss of Wemysshall (now Hill of Tarvit).
In 1903 the Wemyss family sold Scotstarvit Tower and Hill of Tarvit to a Dundee jute magnate by the name of Frederick Bower Sharp, better known as F.B. Sharp. His daughter left the properties to the National Trust for Scotland in 1948 following her death. Scotstarvit Tower continues to be owned by the National Trust for Scotland but is managed by Historic Scotland.
Alternative names for Scotstarvit Tower
Inglistarvit; Scotstarver; Scotstarvet; Scottistarvett; Tarvet