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Edinburgh, 190 High Street, 3 - 5 Old Fishmarket Close

Tenement (19th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, 190 High Street, 3 - 5 Old Fishmarket Close

Classification Tenement (19th Century)

Canmore ID 113524

Site Number NT27SE 856

NGR NT 25819 73568

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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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

Architecture Notes

Old Fishmarket Close is recorded in 1592 and was evidently named for the fish market set up within it, as noted in Town Council Minutes 1539; but interpretation of records is made difficult by the fact that the close as it is at present is a combination of a pair of closes shown, with the fish market between them, on Rothiemay 1647. The one on the East is "Fishmarkett wyne" on Rothiemay but Back of Borthwick's Close on Edgar 1742, and becomes the upper part of Old Fishmarket Close on Ainslie 1780; and it would seem that it was also known by the names, as yet obscure, of Carmichael's Close (mentioned in 1722), Gourlay's Close (1756) and Home Close (1707). The last of these might perhaps be the origin of the strange name Humph Close shown in Ordnance Survey 1852 as attached to its southern remnant. The western close of the pair is unnamed on Rothiemay, but is given as Fishmarket Close on Edgar 1742, while Ainslie 1780 continues that name for its southern half., but adds "Old", and shows the northern part suppressed by new buildings. On the assumption that the arrangement shown on Edgar 1742 and 1765 is the one referred to in charters dated between 1719 snd 1765, it is likely that this close was once Barrie's Close later Jolly's Close, mentioned in 1724 but as yet obscure, and also Suittie's Close (1741), perhaps from a connection with the family of wool merchants who were prominent in the town froom 1620 to the 1660s. The most ancient name of all is Swift's Wynd, recorded in 1539 but apparently going back to John Swift and his wife Alison, who acquired a tenement South of the High Street and "near the Cross" in 1427. Various references in RMS (Register of the Great Seal of Scotland Vols I-XI) 1433-1527 show that John and his son Thomas has more than one property between St Giles kirkyard and Borthwick's Close. The name Back of the Fishmarket is mentioned as an alternative to Barrie's Close, but it is also listed in 1635 as though it weerre the next close west of Borthwick's Close -i.e. the foot of the Fishmarket Wynd marked on Rothiemay 1647. (from Stuart Harris, "Place Names of Edinburgh", 1996, pages 270-1)


Project (1997)

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association ( set up a National Recording Project in 1997 with the aim of making a survey of public monuments and sculpture in Britain ranging from medieval monuments to the most contemporary works. Information from the Edinburgh project was added to the RCAHMS database in October 2010 and again in 2012.

The PMSA (Public Monuments and Sculpture Association) Edinburgh Sculpture Project has been supported by Eastern Photocolour, Edinburgh College of Art, the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, Historic Scotland, the Hope Scott Trust, The Old Edinburgh Club, the Pilgrim Trust, the RCAHMS, and the Scottish Archive Network.

Field Visit (24 September 2002)

Open screen frames name of close. Top green line follows curve of arch and vertical green roas descend and end in squiggles, representing water. Seven fish of assorted kinds and colours 'swim' along four horizontal undulating tubes below. [A loose oilcloth sign for 'Le Sept' restaurant hangs from this.]

Inspected By : D. King

Inscriptions : [Standard gilt-on-black street sign in centre: OLD FISHMARKET CLOSE]

Signatures : None Visible

Year of unveiling : 1995

Information from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA Work Ref : EDIN0756)


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