Edinburgh Castle

Castle

Site Name Edinburgh Castle

Classification 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

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Archaeology Notes

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.

RCAHMS 1951.

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.

(see NT27SE 1.11, NT27SE 1.16, NT27SE 1.32, NT27SE 1.43, NT27SE 1.44, NT27SE 1.45 )

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.

(see NT27SE 1.16, NT27SE 1.17, NT27SE 1.32, NT27SE 1.42, NT27SE 1.43 )

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.

Sponsor: HS

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.

Sponsor: HS

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.

Architecture Notes

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).

REFERENCE:

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.

1708

GD 26/9/83

Account for mason work done at the Castle. Signed J Smith.

1649

GD 26/9/40

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.

1711

GD 26/9/93

Work done at the Castle. An account of wright, slater, mason and glazier work at the Castle.

1708

GD26/9/53

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.

c.1709

GD26/9/123

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.

1715

GD220/5/513

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.

1885

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.'

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