Site Name Edinburgh Castle
Alternative Name(s) Edinburgh Castle, General
Canmore ID 52068
Site Number NT27SE 1
NGR NT 25112 73497
NGR Description Centred NT 25112 73497
Datum OSGB36 - NGR
- Council Edinburgh, City Of
- Parish Edinburgh (edinburgh, City Of)
- Former Region Lothian
- Former District City Of Edinburgh
- Former County Midlothian
NT27SE 1.00 NT 25112 73497 (Centred)
NT27SE 1.01 NT 25159 73541 Mons Meg
NT27SE 1.02 NT 25082 73613 St Margaret's Well
NT27SE 1.03 NT 25152 73501 St Margaret's Chapel
NT27SE 1.04 NT 25177 73522 Portcullis Gate
NT27SE 1.05 NT 25034 73582 'The Queens Post'
NT27SE 1.06 NT 25171 73515 Portcullis Chamber
NT27SE 1.07 NT 25250 73485 Drawbridge
NT27SE 1.08 NT 25199 73482 Fore Well
NT27SE 1.09 NT 25173 73436 Palace Yard
NT27SE 1.10 NT 25223 73457 Half Moon Battery
NT27SE 1.11 NT 25206 73458 David's Tower
NT27SE 1.12 NT 25087 73618 Wellhouse Tower
NT27SE 1.13 NT 25074 73582 Crane Cradle
NT27SE 1.14 NT 25113 73565 Mill's Mount Battery
NT27SE 1.15 NT 25187 73494 Forewall Battery
NT27SE 1.16 NT 25210 73497 Inner Barrier
NT27SE 1.17 NT 25091 73543 Mill's Mount
NT27SE 1.18 NT 25133 73542 Argyle Battery
NT27SE 1.19 NT 25007 73532 Sally Port and Guard House
NT27SE 1.20 NT 25030 73474 Butt's Battery
NT27SE 1.21 NT 25132 73474 Foog's Gate
NT27SE 1.22 NT 25239 73488 Gate House
NT27SE 1.23 NT 2525 7349 Dry Ditch
NT27SE 1.24 NT 2517 7346 St Mary's Church
NT27SE 1.25 NT 25197 73438 Crown Room
NT27SE 1.26 NT 25165 73421 Great Hall
NT27SE 1.27 NT 25196 73444 Old Palace
NT27SE 1.28 NT 25204 73431 Queen Mary's Room
NT27SE 1.29 NT 2509 7361 to 2510 7362 Castle Wall (Town Wall)
NT27SE 1.30 NTc.250 736 Wellhouse Tower, Burials
NT27SE 1.31 NT 25170 73474 Scottish National War Memorial
NT27SE 1.32 NT 251 735 Settlement
NT27SE 1.33 NT 25318 73502 Esplanade
NT27SE 1.34 NT 2500 7360 Old West Sally Port
NT27SE 1.35 NT 25185 73503 Governor's House
NT27SE 1.36 NT 25145 73449 Naval and Military Museum
NT27SE 1.37 NT 2508 7345 New Barracks
NT27SE 1.38 NT 2516 7353 Dogs' Cemetery
NT27SE 1.39 NT 2516 7346 Old Barracks
NT27SE 1.40 NT 25065 73504 National War Museum; Ordnance Store House
NT27SE 1.41 NT 25065 73533 National War Museum; Hospital on Site of Powder Magazine
NT27SE 1.42 NT 2508 7356 Blacksmith's Shop
NT27SE 1.43 NT 25207 73508 Tattoo Store/Coal Yard
NT27SE 1.44 NT 2514 7343 Drury's Battery
NT27SE 1.45 NT 2512 7351 to 2515 7353 Main Guard
NT27SE 1.46 centred on NT 2513 7346 Royal Scots Regimental Museum (and trial excavation)
NT27SE 1.47 NT 250 735 Western Defences, trial excavation
NT27SE 1.48 NT 250 735 Hospital Square, trial excavation
NT27SE 1.49 NT 2515 7345 Watching Brief
NT27SE 1.50 NT 25136 73556 Low Defence
NT27SE 1.51 NT 25290 73522 Duke of York Statue
NT27SE 1.52 NT 25334 73526 Statue of Earl Haig
NT27SE 1.53 NT 25273 73516 72nd Highlanders Memorial
NT27SE 1.54 NT 25350 73529 78th Highlanders Memorial
NT27SE 1.55 NT 25320 73524 Monument to Colonel Mackenzie
NT27SE 1.57 NT 25123 73437 Military Prison
NT27SE 1.58 NT 25158 73529 Lang Stairs
NT27SE 1.59 NT 25134 73422 Dury's Battery
NT27SE 1.64 NT 25110 73480 Prisoner of War camp
(Centred NT 2513 7349) The Castle (NR)
OS 1:2500 map (1931).
Dark Ages - First mention of the rock of Edinburgh as a fortress occurs in an old Welsh poem, the Gododdin of Aneurin, dating from the end of the 6th Century.
The suggestion that the name Edinburgh has associations with Edwin, the great Northumbrian King (617-33) may be disregarded. The Pictish Chronicle mentions that it was vacated by the Angles in the reign of Indulph (Indolb) and left to the Scots under that king. The only hill fort in the region commanding the point where the Roman route from the South reached the Firth of Forth.
Mediaeval - At various times the castle was defended by English, Scots and French garrisons.
Important dates in Castle history:
1093, Death of St Margaret of Scotland at the castle
1174, Castle handed over to Henry II of England.
1312-13 Captured by the Scots.
1336, Refortified by Edward III of England.
1361, Modernisation of castle by David II of Scotland.
1571-3, Castle besieged by Earl of Lennox.
1662, Repairs and additions by Robert Mylne
1689, Held by Duke of Gordon in the cause of James VII and besieged for the last time.
As described in guide book.
J S Richardson and M Wood 1953
A major redevelopment programme prompted the first extensive series of archaeological investigations within the Castle. The first year's work was executed in advance of the construction of a new shop, cafeteria and vehicle tunnel. Twelve areas were excavated revealing foundations, industrial activity, Roman and Native pottery, 1-2nd century AD comb, 7-10th c AD comb, and later artefacts.
Sponsor : SDD (HBM)
P Yeoman 1988
Excavations and watching briefs continued throughout the year. The main development contract began in January and is scheduled to be completed in January 1990. The location of archaeological works has been governed by the building work on the vehicle tunnel, new giftshop, restaurants and toilets. In all cases the extent and quality of the buried archaeological remains surpassed expectations. Discoveries continued to attract considerable media interest, and HBM sponsored an exhibition relating to the discoveries in the royal apartments which reached a large audience.
Sponsor: SDD (HBM)
P Yeoman 1989.
NT 251 734. Watching briefs have been mounted to monitor the continuing construction programme and the associated installation of services.
Sponsor : HS
S T Driscoll 1992b
(see also NT27SE 1.17)
NT 251 735 A watching brief was maintained in January 1998 on engineering test-pits and boreholes. Prior to conversion into firstly hospitals (in 1897), and then museums, these buildings had functioned as ordnance stores. The site of the excavations had been a magazine built around 1677, and pulled down and replaced between 1748-54. This was demolished in 1897, and is shown on the 1877 OS map as a rectangular block, sitting against the W wall, physically separated from the ordnance store to the N, and connected to the one to the S by a corridor. A blast wall ran around the E side.
Three test-pits were machine-dug, and five boreholes were drilled. The northern test-pit revealed a complicated sequence of iron pipes, at a maximum depth of 1.9m.
The borehole deposits were generally too soft to provide a good sample. Where seen, the deposit comprised a light grey silt with many inclusions, identical to that seen in the test-pits. Two of the five boreholes were not bottomed, one produced stone with mortar attached from a depth of 2.2m, indicating something structural, while the two most southerly hit bedrock at depths of 5.1m and 4.85m.
A single sherd of white china (from the silt in the northern trench) was the only datable material noted. However the iron pipes date most of the sequence to the last c 150 years. It seems possible that the rubble noted just over 2m down in the N trench relates to the 1897 destruction of the magazine, with the great depth of silt representing levelling material over this.
Sponsor: Historic Scotland
D Murray 1998
NT 2515 7345 Excavation was completed within this range of buildings, which mainly date to the early 18th century, and was converted from barracks earlier this century.
The Queen Anne period of building is known to have extended and absorbed elements from previous defensive circuits and associated structures. Evidence of two periods of fortification were revealed throughout the area under excavation; one dated to the later 17th-century refurbishment of the inner defensive circuit, while the second reflected a fighting platform in place during the 16th century.
The evidence mainly comprised two horizons of heavily metalled surfaces, both apparently indicating external platforms, probably for artillery, interleaved with dumped make-up levels, culminating in the 18th-century sub-floor deposits. Fragments of masonry presently incorporated in the W facade of the Queen Anne Building complex appear to belong to an earlier defensive line following the same general axis as the 18th-century works.
Sponsor: Historic Scotland
G Ewart and D Murray 1998
NT 2515 7345 A watching brief was carried out in September 1998 while a series of seven test-pits were excavated within the confines of the largest of two adjacent water towers situated in the upper part of Edinburgh Castle.
The various excavations within the old water tower building have revealed that in order to put in place massive foundations for an extremely heavy water tank it was considered essential that the masonry was founded in all places on bedrock. Following the building of the concentric rings of foundation masonry, dated to the first decade of this century, the gaps between the rings were filled up with imported soil to a level 900mm below the wall tops. This level coincided with the highest point of the natural bedrock.
Sponsor: Historic Scotland
D Stewart 1998
NT 251 734 Excavations were undertaken between December 2001 and January 2002 within one of the upper vaults beneath the Palace at Edinburgh Castle, ahead of work to re-lay the floor and upgrade the room for use as an educational centre. Evidence for various earlier floor levels was found. The earliest was uneven and sloped downwards towards the back of the room, and it is suggested that this was due to the roof of the lower vault beneath rising up in the middle of the room. There was a suggestion that the room might originally have been paved in stone, but all subsequent floors seem to have been of compacted dirt or wooden planks.
Much work appears to have been done on the room in the 18th century when it was reputed to have housed prisoners. A wooden floor was laid, and repairs made to other areas. During the 19th century the room was used as a barrack. The floor was levelled, the room may for a time have been partitioned, and finally the wooden floor was laid, probably in the later 19th or early 20th century. Significant finds include a large cache of used revolver cartridges buried at the back corner.
Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.
G Ewart, J Franklin and D Stewart (Kirkdale Archaeology) 2002
NT 251 734 Two of the upper vaults below the Queen Anne Building and Great Hall retain archaeological traces of timber fittings associated with barrack and prison accommodation. The elevations and floors of these rooms were drawn in order to record potential evidence of the bed structures in particular, over three main periods of use:
- Mid- to late 17th-century occupation (Cromwellian barracks)
- Early 18th-century occupation (Hanoverian barracks)
- Mid- to later 18th-century occupation (prisoners of war)
Contemporary plans and specialist analysis of surviving timberwork suggest that tiered bunks for barrack use had been replaced with a single platform arrangement, possibly complemented by the use of hammocks, for the prisoners of war.
Graffiti on wooden doors and masonry was also recorded, with particular reference to names and initials, which apparently reflect the successive occupation of those vaults.
Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.
G Ewart, S Coulter and A Hollinrake (Kirkdale Archaeology) 2002
NT 251 735 A programme of historic building recording was required as a condition of Scheduled Ancient Monument Consent by Historic Scotland along two walls of the fourth floor of the 18th-century 52 Infantry Brigade building or `New Barracks¿ at Edinburgh Castle during the knocking through of an original wall to accommodate facilities for a new museum in the building (DES 2004, 53). An area to the E in the fire escape stair was also removed to accommodate a new lift shaft for the same purpose. No original features were exposed, but a written and photographic record was taken of the exposed wall during and after its removal between November 2005-May 2006. All areas were removed by hand.
Archive to be deposited in NMRS.
Sponsor: Campbell and Arnott Ltd
Diana Sproat, 2006.
NT27SE 1.00 NT 25112 73497 (Centred)
ARCHITECT: Francis T Dollman (proposed additions & restoration 1859, not carried out)
Robert Billings 1860-62 (improvements to barracks)
Robert Mylne 1689
Sir Robert Lorimer 1923-8
Colonel Moodie 1858 (alterations)
Timber for Palace block came from Kent & Essex, was of oak, transported to Leith Sept 1616. Palace block reconstructed 1615-17 (inf from J G Dunbar).
National Library of Scotland:
Is under the charge of the Commissioners of H.M.Works. The National Library of Scotland holds a series of original drawings (many coloured) of the Board of Ordnance, relating to the works executed in the 18th Century. Reference "MSS.1645-1652".
They include, in Case (or Volume) 1645, the following:-
Z.2/1 1719. Sheets of General Drawings (numbered 1 to 5 inclusive) of "Edinburgh Castle". They are to the scale of 10 Feet to an Inch. Each bears the date 1719 and the name of Thos. Moore.
Z.2/2. 1719. "Edinburgh Castle Church Porch". Plan and Elevations to the scale of 4 Feet to an Inch. Dated April 25 1719 and signed S. Jelfe. There is also a copy. (Photostat in SNBR)
Z.2/2. 1719. "Entrance to castle over the Fosse". Plan and Section, to scale of 20 Feet to an Inch, shewing the Drawbridge. Date 28 April 1719 and signed S. Jelfe. (Photostat in SNBR)
Z.2/3. No date. Old Block Plan of the Castle, with Explanation. Scale 10 Feet to 1 and one-eighth Inch.. (2 photostats in SNBR)
Z.2/3. No date. A copy of the last with References in French, bearing the name of Robt Roe, and dated July 9th 1774
Z.2/4 No date. "A Plan of Edinburgh Castle", With Explanation. Scale 100 Feet to an Inch. Shews the line of the Flodden Wall passing by the West Port, though no buildings there are indicated.
Z.2/4. 1742. "Plan of the Works on the Entrance of the Castle of Edinburgh" Scale 20 Feet to an Inch. Shews Fosse and Drawbridge, and part of wall being built "Conform to Capt Romer's Plan". Bears date 18 June 1742. There is also a copy by J. Anderson 1799, and another by T. Sedley 1800. (Photostat in SNBR)
Z.2/5. 1740. "Elevations and Section of the Govenor's, Storekeeper and Master Gunner's House at Edinburgh Castle for the year 1740. Scale 10 Feet to an Inch. (Copy in SNBR)
Z.2/5. 1740. "Plan of the Works on the Entrance of the Castle of Edinburgh "Scale 20 Feet to an Inch. Shews Fosse and Drawbridge, and part of wall being built "Conform to Capt Romer's Plan". Bears date 18 June 1742. There is also a copy by J Anderson 1799, and another by T. Sedley 1800.
Z.2/5. 1740. Elevations and Section of the Govenor's, Storekeeper and Master Gunner's House at Edinburgh Castle for the year 1740. Scale 10 Feet to an Inch. (Copy in SNBR)
Z.2/5. 1742 "Plan, Elevation &i Section of the Govenour's, Storekeeper's and Master Gunner's new houses at Edinburgh Castle, shewing the partition walls of the gardens and outbuildings being buildt". Scale 10 Feet to an Inch. Dated 14th June 1472 and signed Dug Campbell. & a copy (Photostat in SNBR)
Z.2/6. 1746. "Plan Elevation and Sections of s Shed ordered to be built at Edinburgh Castle for the reception of 50 Bread Cars". Scale 8 Feet to an Inch. Dated Edinr 10th September 1746 and signed Dug Campbell, Engineer. (Photostat in SNBR)
There is also a copy by John Spencer 1795.
Z.2/7. 1747. Three drawing docketted as "received with Col. David Watson's letter to the Board dated from Edinburgh 30 April 1747. They are:-
(1) An exact Plan of a part of Edinr Castle showing the situation of the Powder magazine, &c. Scale 40 Ft to 1 inch
(2) Plan and Section of the Powder Magazine as it is at present, containing 684 'Barrils' of Powder. Scale 10 Feet to an Inch.
(3) Plan and Section of the Powder Magazine with the Alterations proposed & will contain 1054 'Barrils' of powder. Scale 10 Feet to an Inch.
Z.2/8. 1750. "Plan of Edinburgh Castle 1750". With Explanation. Scale 40 Feet to an Inch. Initialed "T.D., 1752" Also a copy. (Photostat in SNBR)
Z.2/9. No date. "Plan of Part of Edinburgh Castle" and Profiles of new (outer) Walls". With Explanation. Sclae for Plan 40 Feet to an Inch, and for Profiles 10 Feet to fifteen-sixteenth of an Inch. The date is suggested in the Index Volume as 1735. (Photostat in SNBR)
Z.2/10. No date "Edinburgh Castle, Grand Store House", Plan and Section. Scale 10 Feet to an Inch. Said in the Index Volume to be of date 1719.
Z.2/11. 1734. "Munsmeg" of Monsmeg, a Drawing and Section. Scale for Section 10 Feet to about fice-eighths fo an Inch. Gives a History of the Gun up till 1734, and a description.
Z.2/12. 1750. "Plans Elevation and Sections of a design for a Barrack for 270 Men to be built in Edinburgh Castle. 1750". Sclae 12 Feet to an Inch. Signed by W. Skinner. There is a copy. (Photostat in SNBR)
Z.2/13. 1753. "Plan Sections and Elevations of the Powder magazines and Storehouses built in Edinburgh Castle Ano.1753 & 1754". Scale 20 Feet in an Inch. (Photostat in SNBR)
Z.2/14. 1754. Three sheets of Drawings of major buildings in the Castle of Edinburgh, Including Plans and Sections of the Several Vaults and Floors, 1754. All to scale of 14 Feet to an Inch.
Z.2/15. 1755 "A Plan, Elevation and Section of the Barracks designed to be built in Edinburgh Castle 1755". Sclae 10 Feet to an Inch. Docketted as "Copied by A. Rae". (Photostat in SNBR)
There are in Case, or Volume, 1649, the following drawings:-
Z.3/54. Undated. "Plan of Part of Edinburgh Castle shewing the proposed Situations for a pipe and Cistern, bringing water from the Town Reservoir. Scale 40 Feet to an Inch. Signed by H. Rudyerd, Captn RI Engineers. There is in connection a Schedule of Prices and Estimates for erecting the Water Cistern at the South end of the Barrier Guard House, dated Edinburgh 18 January 1794 (which is probably the date of the Drawing) and signed by H. Rudyerd. (Photostat in SNBR)
Z.3/58. 1709-10. Five Plans dealing with Hern Work and Entrenchments designed by Captn. Dury, one of Her majesty's Engineers, 1709, and alterations projected by tlabot Edwwards 1710, at the Entrance to Edinburgh Castle. All are docketted as "Handed over to Lieut. monier Skinner RI Engers by his father in 1873".
There is also a small Map, similarly docketted, of the Environs of Edinburgh and Leith. Scale 1000 Yards to an Inch. There is no date, but the New Town seems to have been begun.
David Macgibbon and Thomas Ross, in "The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland", gives in Volume 1, pp.445-463, a description and Historical Notice, together with a small Plan from the Ordnance Survey, Some copies of old views, and a number of sketches in pen and ink. They also give a Plan and sketches of the Chapel of St. Margaret, at one time used as a Powder magazine, but on the Instance of Mr Neson restored under the superintendence of hippolyte J.Blanc, architect: the Plan and sketches were made from his very careful drawings. (Copy available in NMRS)
William Maitland, in his "History of Edinburgh", 1753, gives an engraving entitled "A Perspective View of the Easter side."
Scottish Record Office:
Fortifications of the Castle of Edinburgh. Articles of agreement. Masons. Alexander Gowanlock and Gilbert Smith.
Account for mason work done at the Castle. Signed J Smith.
Proposed repairs in Edinburgh Castle. Letter concerns annual estimates for repairs and also includes Fort William, Stirling and Dunbarton. Gilbert smith named as the mason.
Work done at the Castle. An account of wright, slater, mason and glazier work at the Castle.
Account for repair work to Castles at the time of the intended invasion. It includes a new guard house at Edinburgh and repair of the drawbridge.
Building repairs at the Castle.
On the Duke of Montrose's representations, payment is to be made to poor labourers and artificers whol had worked at the Castle and estimates are to be prepared for what is to be done next Summer there and at other Scottish garrisons.
Letter from Capt. Dury to the Duke of Montrose.
Proposed alterations to the Castle. Letter from Robert Rowand Anderson (1834-1921), architect, to Miss Nisbet Hamilton at Biel. It has been announced by the War office that he is to be consulted about the alterations. He thanks Miss Nisbet Hamilton for recommending him.
GD205/Box 47/Portfolio 17
See NMRS Collections SK/Ferg/10 W L Ferguson Sketch Book No 10 for pencil sketch elevation insc: 'Edinburgh Castle. From the Esplanade.'
Watching Brief (January 1998)
A watching brief was maintained in January 1998 on engineering test-pits and boreholes. Prior to conversion into firstly hospitals (in 1897), and then museums, these buildings had functioned as ordnance stores. The site of the excavations had been a magazine built around 1677, and pulled down and replaced between 1748-54. This was demolished in 1897, and is shown on the 1877 OS map as a rectangular block, sitting against the W wall, physically separated from the ordnance store to the N, and connected to the one to the S by a corridor. A blast wall ran around the E side.
Photographic Record (1970)
Online Gallery (1306 - 1329)
The year 2014 sees the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, in which the army of Robert I of Scotland defeated that of Edward II of England. The battle marked a major turning point in the long, drawn-out struggle of the Wars of Independence.
The Wars have had a lasting influence upon all the nations of the United Kingdom and upon the national story. Each age has seen fit to commemorate the events in its own way: through the perpetuation of the genuine historical associations of buildings and places and also through the endowment of others with improbable or fanciful traditions. Where past generations allowed its historic buildings to decay and disappear, later generations began to value and actively preserve these for their associations. Where an event lacked a tangible reminder, as at Kinghorn where Alexander III was killed in a riding accident, a commemorative monument would be erected to act as a focus. The Wars of Independence predate the fashion for accurate portraiture: the weathered, generic military effigy of Sir James Douglas is one of the few to survive in Scotland. Later centuries saw a need and supplied it by a crowd of images of its historic heroes, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, each depicted according to contemporary taste and imagination. The opening of the new heritage centre at Bannockburn takes this into a new dimension, through the use of three-dimensional, digital technology.
RCAHMS Collections hold many images of these buildings and locations from battlefields, castles and churches, to the many commemorative monuments erected in later years. This gallery highlights a selection of these, including antiquarian sketches, photographic and drawn surveys, and architectural designs.
Excavation (December 2009 - September 2011)
NT 2530 7350 (centred on) A series of Scheduled Monument Consents (SMCs A–E) were granted, December 2009 – September 2011, for work associated with the design of new temporary stand for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
SMC A: Existing utilities were realigned or replaced to accommodate new stand foundations. These works revealed part of the Spur, a triangular artillery fortification built in the 1540s and demolished in 1650. Part of a second boundary-type wall was revealed to the NE of the Spur and this overlay an infilled ditch. The corner of a building was revealed at the E end of the Esplanade. All of these remains may be shown on an Edinburgh plan drawn by Gordon of Rothiemay in 1647. At the top of Castle Wynd Steps, a massively built stone plinth may have been a part of the Esplanade wall which was demolished prior to 1780.
SMC B: The Scottish Horse Monument was dismantled and rebuilt on a new abutment projecting from the North Esplanade Wall. A photographic survey of the wall was carried out.
SMC C: This covered the erection of the new stands and had no archaeological significance.
SMC D: The statue of Earl Haig and its stone plinth were moved from the Esplanade to Hospital Square. Excavations in Hospital Square revealed the wall of the 1748–54 powder magazine and the blast wall to the E.
SMC E: Work to relocate utilities serving the castle took place in Princes Street Gardens, in the Moat Vault, in the Coal Yard and on the steep grass slope between the South Esplanade Wall and Johnston Terrace. Walls were recorded prior to the placement of pipes/ducts. No archaeological remains were recorded in Princes Street Gardens. In the Moat Vault, plinths associated with former arched vaults were recorded. In the Coal Yard, a buried wall was recorded. Between the South Esplanade Wall and Johnston Terrace, a stone revetment was recorded.
Additional non-SMC work took place in Castlehill, Ramsay Lane and Mound Place. In Ramsay Lane, the foundations of what may be tenement buildings were recorded and to the N, part of a culvert drain was recorded.
Archive: City of Edinburgh Council SMR and RCAHMS
Funder: Sir Robert McAlpine on behalf of Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Ltd
Information from Ian Suddaby (CFA Archaeology Ltd) 2012. OASIS ID: cfaarcha1-78685