Merchiston Tower was probably built by Alexander Napier, the second Laird of Merchiston around 1454. It serves as the seat for Clan Napier. It is perhaps most notable for being the home of John Napier, the 8th Laird of Merchiston, inventor of logarithms who was born there in 1550.
Merchiston was probably built as a country house, but its strategic position and the turbulent political situation required it to be heavily fortified – with some walls as much as six feet thick – and it was frequently under siege. During restoration in the 1960s, a 26-pound cannonball was found embedded in the Tower, thought to date from the struggle in 1572 between Mary, Queen of Scots, and supporters of her son, James VI.
In 1930 the property became to the ownership of The Merchant Company, who used nearby playing fields for George Watson's College, which was soon itself to move nearby. Then in 1935 the tower passed to Edinburgh City Council. It remained unoccupied (except for war service) until 1956, when it was suggested as the centrepiece of a new technical college. Restoration work began in 1958, highlights of which were the discovery of the entrance drawbridge and the preservation of an original seventeenth-century plaster ceiling. It now stands at the centre of Napier University’s Merchiston campus.
The Tower is an interesting and elaborate example of the medieval tower house, being built on the familiar 'L' plan with a wing projecting to the north. It was originally vaulted at the second floor and the roof. Among several remarkable features is the unusual elaboration of the main entrance, which is at second floor level in the south front. The tall shallow recess in which the doorway is set undoubtedly housed a drawbridge which must have rested upon an outwork some 14 feet above ground level and 10 feet from the Tower.
Shortly after being let to Merchiston Castle School it was considerably altered with the addition of a castellated Gothic-style two-story extension and a basement, which has since been removed.
Napier University has taken out large sections of wall on the northern extension to accommodate a corridor which runs through the Castle to other campus buildings.References:
The castle of La Iruela, small but astonishing, is located on the top of a steep crag in Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. From the castle, impressive views of the surrounding area and of the town can be enjoyed.
The keep dates from the Christian era. It has a square base and small dimensions and is located at the highest part of the crag.
There are some other enclosures within the tower that create a small alcázar which is difficult to access.
In a lower area of the castle, protected with defensive remains of rammed earth and irregular masonry, is an old Muslim farmstead.
After a recent restoration, an open-air theater has been built on La Iruela castle enclosure. This theater is a tribute to the Greek and Classic Eras and holds various artistic and cultural shows throughout the year.
The first traces of human activity in La Iruela area are dated from the Copper Age. An intense occupation continued until the Bronze Age.
Originally, La Iruela (like Cazorla) was a modest farmstead. From the 11th century, a wall and a small fortress were built on the hill to protect the farmers.
Around 1231, don Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo, conquered La Iruela and made it part of the Adelantamiento de Cazorla. Over the Muslim fortress, the current fortress was built.
Once the military use of the fortress ended, it was used as cemetery.