Pencaitland lies astride East Lothian's River Tyne about five miles south west of Haddington. The river divides the village into Easter Pencaitland and Wester Pencaitland and the stone bridge that was built in 1510 to connect the two parts of the village still stands today. It now carries modern traffic: albeit in a single direction at a time controlled by traffic lights in deference to its age!
Today's Pencaitland is close enough to Edinburgh to serve primarily as a dormitory for the capital. It is also home to a large industrial maltings, on the western edge of the village, and these dominate views of Pencaitland from the south. A little over a mile from the village, is Glenkinchie Distillery, which offers a visitor centre and tours.
Easy to overlook in the village is a business that has discreetly brought a steady stream of the rich and famous to Pencaitland over the past 25 years or more. Castlesound Studios is housed in an old primary school and has been used over the years by bands such as Runrig, REM, Simple Minds and The Blue Nile.
Close to the 1510 bridge and on the east side of the river is Pencaitland Parish Church. This has an unusual and attractive tower which probably served as both a belfry and a dovecot. Much of the church dates back to the end of the 1500s or early 1600s, though it is thought to stand on the foundations of a much earlier church. And a chapel within the church is thought by some to date back to the 1200s, though may actually be rather older.
A drives joining the road through the village east of the river leads to Winton House, one of the three grand houses or castles that lie close to the village and help explain the early growth of Pencaitland. Winton House started life as Winton Castle in the 1400s. Like much else in Lothian, it was destroyed by Henry VIII before being rebuilt for the Seton family in 1620. Today it serves as a conference and event venue.
What the maps still shows as Fountainhall lies a mile south west of the village. It started life under the name Penkaet Castle as a tower house in the 1400s and has since been extensively added to. It was renamed Fountainhall in 1685, and has only very recently reverted to its original name. The castle is famous principally for the number of ghosts in residence. The most notable is that of Alexander Hamilton, a beggar. He had been thrown off the property by the lady of the house and the eldest daughter. In return he had cursed them. When they both mysteriously died a short time later he was tried and executed for witchcraft.
The third of the triumvirate of grand establishments around Pencaitland is Saltoun Hall. This lies a mile west of the village and started life as Saltoun Castle, possibly as far back as the 1100s. The hall today owes much to Elizabethan styled additions and has been subdivided as apartments. It's only very long term resident is said to be the ghost of a "grey lady".
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