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Edinburgh, 85, 86, 87 South Bridge

Shop(S) (Period Unassigned), Tenement (18th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, 85, 86, 87 South Bridge

Classification Shop(S) (Period Unassigned), Tenement (18th Century)

Alternative Name(s) 40, 42, 44 Blair Street; 208-210 Cowgate

Canmore ID 117430

Site Number NT27SE 1340

NGR NT 25964 73502

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. 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

Architecture Notes

NT27SE 1340 25964 73502

NT27SE 1330 25958 73500 40, 42, 44 Blair Street

NT27SE 1697 25963 73497 208-210 Cowgate


Watching Brief (December 2015)

A watching brief was carried out by CFA Archaeology Ltd during floor level

reduction works in the basement of 85-87 South Bridge, City of Edinburgh. The watching brief identified levelling deposits below flagstone floors in Rooms 1/3, 1/5 and 1/6 and in the passageway that led from Room 1/4. These deposits were interpreted to be contemporary with the construction / use of the building and were devoid of any archaeologically significant finds. In Room 1/4, the southern half of Room 1/3 and part of the northern portion of Room 1/5 20th Century disturbance caused during alterations to the building had removed any in situ deposits. In room 1/5 below the levelling deposits a midden deposit was identified. No dateable artefacts

were recovered but the consistency of the material and inclusion of significant quantities of oyster shells along with bone fragments and a horn core suggest that this was probably an in situ medieval / post medieval midden and therefore earlier than the overlying building.

Information from Ewan MacNeilage (CFA Archaeology Ltd) January 2016. OASIS ID: cfaarcha1-246332

Standing Building Recording (27 May 2015 - 28 May 2015)

An archaeological buildings appraisal carried out at 85-87 South Bridge, Edinburgh. Number 85-87 South Bridge (otherwise recorded as Nos. 40, 42, 44 Blair Street; and Nos. 208-210 Cowgate) is a Grade B-listed tenement/office building forming an integral part of the Robert Kay design (circa 1790). The bulding is currently undergoing refurbishment. A planning condition required an archaoelogical appraisal survey in order to identify the significance of any historical architectural featurs that may have survived a major refurbishment phase carried out in the 1930s. The survey confirmed that only the lowest basement contained features of archaeological interest including five fireplaces and two staircases dating from c.1790 when this level was under domestic occupation.

Information from Michael Cressey (CFA Archaeology Ltd) June 2015.

OASIS ID: cfaarcha1-212532

Standing Building Recording (November 2015)

The photographic survey carried out at 85-87 South Bridge has recorded the historical fabric and extant features within the basement prior to its refurbishment.

Information from Michael Cressey (CFA Archaeology Ltd) January 2016. OASIS ID: cfaarcha1-246332

Standing Building Recording (March 2016)

NT 25965 73502 Numbers 85–87 South Bridge are a former office block facing onto South Bridge, the Cowgate and Blair Street, which are currently undergoing redevelopment. In 2015 a Level 1 building appraisal identified the remains of a series of domestic fireplaces, floors and staircases relating to the lower foundations of a late 18th- or early 19th-century

tenement building. The rest of the building was altered in the 1930s during the creation of shops and offices.

Follow-up work included a Level 2 building survey of the basement, preceded by a watching brief to monitor the removal of rubble. This work revealed the full extent of domestic flagstone flooring near one of the staircases.

In March 2016 a further phase of building recording was carried out within two vaults that were revealed during stripping work. The vaults lie below South Bridge street level and were accessible from the third floor. The stone-built barrel vaults were found to be well preserved with a large segmented relieving arch present above their former access door.

A photographic survey took place of the interior of a link bridge that was built in c1930 on the W side of the South Bridge spanning the Cowgate. The communication bridge was built for J and R Allan, Edinburgh, a large clothing store, as access between their offices in 85–87 South Bridge and

their main clothing store which once occupied 79 South Bridge and southwards and round onto Chambers Street.

Archive: NRHE (intended). Report: City of Edinburgh Council and NRHE

Funder: Mr J Crolla

Mike Cressey – CFA Archaeology Ltd

(Source: DES, Volume 17)


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