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Edinburgh, Horse Wynd, Holyrood Free Church And School

Church (Period Unassigned), School (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Edinburgh, Horse Wynd, Holyrood Free Church And School

Classification Church (Period Unassigned), School (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Abbey Strand; Queen's Gallery; Palace Of Holyroodhouse

Canmore ID 125696

Site Number NT27SE 2081

NGR NT 26799 73911

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

Archaeology Notes

NT27SE 2081 26799 73911

The Queen's Gallery [NAT]

OS (GIS) MasterMap, August 2009.

For (adjacent) Holyrood Abbey and Palace of Holyroodhouse, see NT27SE 35.00.

NT 2679 7391 The conversion was monitored between April and September 2001 of Holyrood Free Church and School on Horse Wynd/Abbey Strand (NMRS NT27SE 2081) to a proposed art gallery for the royal household. The works involved the removal of much of the 19th-century ground-floor levels within the old church and the adjacent 19th-century stables. Evidence was found and recorded of the conversion of these structures to offices, staff accommodation and general storage space. During the course of deeper excavation in the area of the church nave, a buried cellar/brick-lined chamber for a heating system was found. This intrusion associated with the construction of the church in 1850 revealed in section a sequence of dumped earth infill deposits, which along with part of a stone-capped drain reflect post-medieval occupation on the site. However, in the area examined, no trace was revealed of earlier buildings. This may suggest that the footprint of the site closely echoes that of earlier structures and that the earth infill and drain relate to backlot occupation of buildings fronting Horse Wynd as depicted on Rothiemay's perspective of 1647.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

D Stewart and G Ewart 2001

NT 2679 7391 A watching brief was undertaken in January and February 2002 during the excavation of service tracks across the courtyard area in the general area of known Palace/Abbey buildings.

The presence of stone walls pre-dating the later 19th-century church structure (providing footings and delimiting the latter on its E side at least) suggests a more complex structural history than might be first assumed. In addition, the area outwith the walls was equally complex, featuring imported clays, which in turn received a drain. The area W and N of the church was then infilled to create a new ground level, significantly higher than its predecessor. The drain was then introduced, although whether inside or outside a building is not known. Lastly the church was constructed utilising the levelled and truncated remains of both residual surfaces and masonry.

It is likely that the midden-rich deposits noted as exterior dumps, which appeared to extend across the entire footprint of the site, date to the 16th or early 17th century (on pottery evidence), and the drain was laid in some time before the church was constructed (1850), when the drain was truncated.

It is also likely that the walls revealed both within the courtyard and below later masonry associated with the school activity pre-date the midden infill, and as such are parts of stone buildings earlier than the 16th- to early 17th-century rebuilding programme. There was no further opportunity to investigate the extent and date of this masonry. However, it is likely that this relates to the late use of the Abbey precinct, still a functioning monastic house, and that the landscaping and drainage date to the immediate post-Reformation conversions to the monastic layout, generally depicted on Gordon of Rothiemay's perspective of 1647.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: Benjamin Tindall Architects.

G Ewart and D Stewart (Kirkdale Archaeology) 2002.

Architecture Notes

ARCHITECT: John Henderson c1848


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.


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