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Latitude: 55.8212 / 55°49'16"N
Longitude: -3.0805 / 3°4'49"W
OS Eastings: 332399
OS Northings: 659186
OS Grid: NT323591
Mapcode National: GBR 61X4.W3
Mapcode Global: WH6T7.NY99
Entry Name: Arniston Policies, Grotto
Listing Date: 22 January 1971
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 331241
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB811
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: Midlothian South
Traditional County: Midlothian
Mid 18th century. Asymmetrical, rustic grotto set into hillside. Randomly arranged unhewn stones. Round arches with rusticated dressings.
S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: asymmetrical, 4 bay; arched recess to penultimate bay to left surmounted by carved stone panel; niche to centre with carved panel above dated "1644" reading "QUID SIS QUID FUER IS SEMPER MEDITERUS OMNEM CREDE DIE TIBI DILUXISSE SUPREMUM"; niche seats to left and right walls. Small niches to outer left and right with decorative nailhead keystones and imposts. Barrel vaulted tunnel to penultimate bay to right leading to N. Wall rises above hillside to form parapet.
N ELEVATION: droved coursed sandstone archway with open pediment enclosing carved panel, reading "HELITEBINE DULCES ETIAM SI CREDIS AMOENAE".
The exact date of the Grotto is unclear. T Buxbaum suggests it was designed by William Adam at the same time as the house, but there appears to be no documentary evidence to support this. It seems more likely that it was built later in the century when Arniston grounds were informalised. It is thought that the carved stones and panels on the Grotto originated on Old Arniston House, some of which is incorporated into the present building (see separate listing). It has also been suggested that some of the stones could have belonged on Parliament House, Edinburgh, which was re faced by Robert Reid in 1803. Lord Chief Baron Robert Dundas (1758-1819) brought cartloads of the architectural fragments from Parliament house, were they "were treated as mere rubbish" (Arniston Memoirs p297), to Arniston where they were incorporated into picturesque structures in the walled and sunken gardens (see separate listings). Other fragments were acquired by famous writer and antiquarian Walter Scott for his house at Abbotsford.
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