The earliest recorded reference to Riccarton or Richardstoun is from 1315 when King Robert the Bruce bestowed the land as a dowry on his daughter Marjory. In 1480 the Wardlaw family held the lands and by 1508 they had been leased to the Hepburn family. Lawyer Sir Thomas Craig bought the estate in 1605 and throughout the 17th century added much of the surrounding lands including Hermiston.
The beautiful landscaped parkland was first developed in the late 18th century by Thomas Craig who enclosed much of the land, and then by Sir James and Sir William Gibson-Craig. Both were avid collectors of plants and introduced the "sunken" part of the lawn which was a curling pond. The house was extended in the 1820s to create an elegant mansion. Sadly, two sons then died in the Boer and First World Wars and the title and lands were split, the estate passing through the female line to the Sudlow family. The house was commandeered by the Army in 1939, becoming the headquarters for the liberation of Norway and after the war a resettlement camp for ex-Prisoners of War and from 1947 to 1954 the headquarters for the Royal Artillery's 3rd Anti Aircraft Group. The house by this point was in quite state of disrepair and was demolished in 1956.
Midlothian County Council acquired and gifted the estate to the University in 1969. Although the house has now gone, many original buildings remain such as the lodges, Gardners Cottage and Hermiston House.