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Edinburgh Castle, Lang Stairs

Staircase (19th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh Castle, Lang Stairs

Classification Staircase (19th Century)

Canmore ID 253940

Site Number NT27SE 1.58

NGR NT 25158 73529

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2022.

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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


Publication Account (1951)


The approach to the Castle itself is by way of the Esplanade, across the head of which runs the Dry Ditch constructed some time between 1725 and 1742. The ditch is now traversed by a modern drawbridge, some scanty remains of an earlier bridge being seen on the left-hand side. The way of access then passes through an arched pend in the modern gatehouse, in the walls of which are inserted two interesting 17th-century panels sculptured with trophies of arms. On one of these the cannon known as Mons Meg can be identified. Inside and facing the back of the gate-house rises the Half-Moon Battery, constructed in 1574 and commanding the whole of the Old Town, which lies from one hundred to three hundred feet below. About 20 ft. below the parapet can be seen a gunloop, masked until recently by the wall of the battery; this was formed in the old curtain on the N. side of David's Tower at some time in the early 16th century, and is consequently the oldest gunloop in the Castle. The report of 1572 mentions six cannons int his part of the defences.

The access next skirts the N. base of the Battery up to the Inner Barrier, known as the “2d gate” in the 17th century, when it was protected by a drawbridge, and then runs up to the former position of the “Constable's Tower”, which is to-day occupied by the Portcullis Gate, or Morton's Gateway. The lower part of this latter building dates from 1574, and contains a vaulted transe adapted for two outer doors in two leaves, a portcullis, and an inner door, also in two leaves. The outer archway has an architectural framework of the period with superimposed double pilasters at each side. On a string course above, two seated lions rest as finials and flank an heraldic achievement. The heraldic panel, which exhibits the Royal Arms of Scotland below a crown, is modern, but the base and entablature are original. The frieze is enriched with hearts and mullets, charges which pertain to the Douglas coats of arms. The archway at the inner end of the transe is plain. A heavily barred window above lights a vaulted portcullis-room resting on the transe. On emerging from the gatehouse the road runs between the Argyle Battery on the right, where there was an inner gate, and the " long stairs" on the left, the latter a short cut to the summit of the Rock, partly rebuilt in 1785. It then winds round a shoulder and, entering through Foog's Gate (Fig.73), which dates from the 17th century, reaches the inner enclosure known as The Citadel, which it should be remembered had been the only fortified portion of the site down to the middle of the 16th century.



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