Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Edinburgh, Holyrood Palace, Palace Yard, Stables

Stable(S) (19th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, Holyrood Palace, Palace Yard, Stables

Classification Stable(S) (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Palace Of Holyrood; Palace Of Holyroodhouse; Palace Mews

Canmore ID 124155

Site Number NT27SE 35.20

NGR NT 26804 73877

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

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 32.20 26829 73883

Nave and Royal Mews. A programme of geophysical survey was completed within the nave of the abbey church, and in the Royal Mews. The survey indicated the disturbed nature of the sub-surface deposits beneath the nave, and the presence of services and other recent features beneath the Royal Mews.

NT 2682 7391 Royal Mews/Stables. A watching brief was completed at the stables and the adjoining courthouse between February and April 2000. The buildings monitored were in the NE corner of the block bounded by Abbey Strand to the N, the forecourt of the Palace of Holyroodhouse to the E, Holyrood Road to the S, and Horse Wynd to the W. The following phasing of the structures was derived:

Phase 1: mid-17th to mid-18th century. Various structural features survived below the upstanding buildings. It is possible that a wall and flagged drain cut by the well belonged to the stable complex surveyed by John Mylne in 1663. It is also possible that the features were actually part of the buildings shown in an earlier view of 1647 by John Gordon of Rothiemay. The house shown immediately to the S of the gatehouse on Arnot's mid-18th-century depiction of the gatehouse is also on Mylne's survey.

Phase 2: mid-18th to mid-19th century. The well is depicted on a mid-18th-century map in the small courtyard shown on Mylne's earlier survey. Although Mylne shows other wells around Holyroodhouse, this one is not depicted until William Edgar's map of 1742. Although the Phase 1 wall was made defunct by the well, the flagged drains appear to have been kept in use either as drains or to help supply water to the well. There were many wells within the precinct; one was found recently near the ticket office, and two were noted in the palace gift shop to the SW (Graham Whitelaw, pers. comm.). Various wells were linked by tunnels and the water conducted across Horse Wynd to the many breweries in the Canongate. Water obtained from Holyrood, outwith the burgh of the Canongate, could not be taxed. It is not possible to say whether this well was part of this supply, or whether it was for the use of the occupants in the immediate location.

After most of the gatehouse was demolished in 1753, the area appears to have become extremely dilapidated.

The King's architect, Robert Reid, appears to have provided the stimulus for a programme of rebuilding in the area. The lower floor of the courthouse as it now stands was constructed by him in 1822-3. A cut below the S wall of the new courthouse is probably the result of the removal of the S wall of the old building.

The ruined house S of the old gatehouse was also demolished during this period and a new E-W oriented range constructed in its place. The well had certainly disappeared by the time of the OS 1st edition of 1854.

Phase 3: 1860. The construction of the baronial-style guardhouse and the stables to the rear by Robert Matheson in 1861 resulted in much demolition. The extensive change can be seen by comparing the OS 1st and 2nd editions.

Phase 4: late 19th and 20th centuries. The floors that were removed in this exercise in all of the interior rooms were not original. The rooms had been refurbished at least once, floors relaid and fireplaces blocked. The repeated insertion of utility pipes in the pend has removed most of the stratigraphic connections between the courthouse and the earlier structures to the S. The most recent work has included the construction of the ticket office and the flagged surface of the pend.

The watching brief has shown how much of the earlier royal stable buildings survive, often not far below the current ground surface. The area appears to have undergone radical and repeated change. (Sponsor: Marcus Dean Associates).

New graphics gallery. An archaeological watching brief was completed during excavations and test coring within the site of the new graphics gallery. Six areas were investigated. In the majority, the upper part of the trench was hand-dug, with a core being taken beneath the level of hand excavations. Archaeological contexts ranged from modern sub-floor deposits to natural horizons. Within the building, archaeological deposits survive to a depth of between 0.75m and 1.05m below the present surface. Externally the deposits lie 1.5m below the concrete surface at ground level. (Sponsor: Benjamin Tindall Architects).

Sponsor: Historic Scotland (except where indicated).

A Dunn 2000

NT 268 739 Archaeological monitoring was undertaken in May 2004 in the garden to the S of the Palace Mews café while the ground was prepared for a programme of replacement surfacing. Confining the excavations to the uppermost deposits has revealed little of archaeological significance. The garden soils are made up of layers of demolition rubble and debris sealed by imported loam. The debris below may be for drainage, but may also be the result of the demolition of structures and buildings removed to create the garden.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: Marcus Dean Associates.

D Stewart 2004.


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 (31 October 2002)

Two stone relief panels, the one on the left (S.) carved with a lion rampant, the one on the right (N.) with letters [of Queen Victoria] and date.

Inspected By : T.S.

Inscriptions : Panel on right (N.) decorated with entwined raised letters : V R and entwined raised numbers: 18 6[?]

Signatures : None

Design period : 1860 - 1862

Information from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA Work Ref : EDIN0728)

Standing Building Recording (21 September 2016 - 7 April 2017)

NT 2678 7393 (Abbey Strand) and NT 2681 7389 (Mews etc) In advance of a programme of renovation, upgrade and conversion a series of trial trenches and wall sample sites were monitored, 21 September 2016 – 7 April 2017, in Abbey Strand, The Royal Mews and the Coachmen’s House. The work aimed to provide information to inform a range of engineering and structural proposals.

Abbey Strand is a complex structure which lies just outside the West Gate to the Palace. It dates from the later 15th century, as guest accommodation within the Augustinian Abbey complex, which was successively converted into various types of private and rented accommodation. These consisted of high status late 16th-century accommodation for the Palace of James VI, 17th-century private housing, and culminated in 18th- and 19th-century rented tenements and taverns. Areas of the ground floor were tested and revealed infill floor deposits over truncated monastic garden levels, including the early medieval Sacristy Garden. Wall surfaces at first and second floor were tested and revealed painted plaster surfaces associated with 17th- and 18th-century occupation.

The Mews complex, which is located towards the SW area of the palace complex, consists of stables and associated 19th-century service structures. It occupies part of the outer court of the Monastic House and featured post-monastic service structures, including 16th-century stables before its clearance during late 19th-century conversion work. Test trenches confirmed how the present building recycled elements of the

16th- and 17th-century layout of accommodation, stables and a brewhouse.

The Coachmen’s House is the 19th-century conversion of a late 17th-century high status house, immediately W of the palace forecourt. Test trenching confirmed the multi-phased nature of the building and suggested that the late 17th-century structure also recycled elements of a 16th-century house.

Archive: NRHE (intended)

Funder: The Royal Collection Trust

Gordon Ewart – Kirkdale Archaeology

(Source: DES, Volume 18)


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions