THE lands of Ceres, in Fifeshire, anciently belonged to a family of the name of Syras of Syras; for we find from the Chartulary of Dunfermline, that Sir Michael Scott, ancestor of the Scotts of Balweary, who flourished during the reign of William the Lion, married Margaret, daughter of Duncan Syras of that ilk. The lands and burgh of Ceres afterwards belonged to the family of Kinninmond of that ilk, who appear to have purchased them from the Scotts; and in the reign of Charles I. they were acquired by Sir Thomas Hope, king’s advocate, ancestor of the earls of Hopetoun, the Hopes of Pinkie, of Granton, and Rankeillour, &c. They are now the property of Hope of Rankeillour.
About a mile to the south-east of Ceres, in the high ground, above a deep and beautifully wooded den, are the ruins of the house of Craighall, erected by and once the residence of Sir Thomas Hope, above-mentioned. Our view of these splendid ruins is taken from the north-west. In this building we have – what was then rare in Scotland, in private mansions – an attempt to combine the graces of Italian architecture with the strength still considered necessary at that time in domestic architecture. The more recent mansion had been erected immediately adjoining the old castle of Craighall, which is seen in our engraving as forming a wing on the south side of the building. The arms of the family still remain emblazoned on the front of the building; and the following motto, in allusion to the family-name, is still distinctly legible, Spero suspiro donec. Craighall is now much more dilapidated and destroyed than might have been expected from its age; but the injury has chiefly been derived from the rude hands of man in the absence of former proprietors. The present and the late proprietors have taken every care to repair and preserve what remains of this interesting building; and as any farther injury to the ruins is strictly guarded against, this relique of the refined taste of one of the greatest of our Scottish lawyers, has every chance of being long preserved. In the memory of people yet alive, the garden with its walls still remained, but these have now entirely disappeared. On the lintel above the entrance to the garden was the following very appropriate inscription, Argus sed non Briareus esto. In the neighbourhood of the mansion – though not seen in the engraving – the ancient gateway which gave entrance to the court-yard, and the strong tower which defended it, still remain very entire.