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Edinburgh, 30 Pilrig House Close, Pilrig House

Flat(S) (19-20th Century), Tower House (17th Century), Town House (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Edinburgh, 30 Pilrig House Close, Pilrig House

Classification Flat(S) (19-20th Century), Tower House (17th Century), Town House (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Pilrig Park; Pilrig Road

Canmore ID 51939

Site Number NT27NE 24

NGR NT 26366 75789

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

Archaeology Notes

NT27NE 24 2636 7578.

(NT 2636 7578) Pilrig House (NAT) (1638)

OS 6"map, Edinburghshire, 1st ed., (1853)

The lands of Pilrig were acquired in 1623 by Gilbert Kirkwood from the Monypenny family, and when he built Pilrig House, he probably incorporated in it some part of an earlier building. There are traces of alteration in the basement which cannot be accounted for otherwise. Apart from a modern addition to the north, the house, which is still occupied and in good preservation, is L-shaped on plan and three storeys, high. The re-entrant angle, now covered by a modern addition, opens to the NE and contains a stair tower. The masonry is harled rubble,the gables crow-stepped and the roof has been renewed.

Russell (1938) suggests from the strength and thickness of the basement walls, that the remains of a peel tower (whence the name "Pilrig" ie. peel ridge) are incorporated in Pilrig House.

J Russell 1938; RCAHMS 1951.

Pilrig House is now roofless, but appears to be undergoing restoration. It is otherwise as described.

Visited by OS 27 November 1975.

Architecture Notes

ARCHITECT: William Burn, 1828 (additions).

OWNER: Edinburgh Town Council.

Pilrig House was built in 1638 in an L-shaped plan around the turnpike stair for an Edinburgh goldsmith, Gilbert Kirkwood. The Balfour family lived in it from 1718 to 1941, when they gave it to the City of Edinburgh. The internal panelling, decorative plaster work and ornamental fireplaces survived until a fire in 1971 when the house was all but destroyed.

The author R.L. Stevenson's grandfather, Lewis Balfour was born in the house in 1777, and Stevenson mentions the house in two of his novels. A plaque unveiled in 1985 on the reopening of the restored building has a qoute from Stevenson's novel, Catriona - " I came in view of Pilrig, a pleasnt gabled house set by the walkside among brave young woods."



Description of a visit, 1778. GD 126/Box 30

Measured plan of area of ground including Pilrig House, 18th century. GD69/28

Report by David MacGibbon, architect on the state of the roof, 1892. GD69/292

A plan of the area of ground includes Pilrig House, 18th century. GD69/283

Dyke below house and dyke from upper house to roadside dyke 13 roods, 1 2/3 ells high , 116.6.8 (pounds)

Dyke above house, 6 roods, 1 2/3 ells high

19 roods coping, 10" and 12" high. 33.13.4

Dyke on NW of park, 6 roods, dykes

Leading into house 2 1/2 roods

Total dykes ?217.12. - Scots

For building the Westermost ?toofall at the Avenue Head 13 days masons etc. SRO RH 9/1/153


Laird of Pilrigs's account 1727-8

1728 Enclosing ground - 3751 cartloads stones at 5 1/2 85.19.2 1/2 (pounds)

Masons buil;ding dykes 165 roods at 3/4 and 4 gates 27.10.19 (pounds)

Total w. other expenses to 1729 193.4.5 (pounds ster.)

1728 James Balfour of Pilrig Esq. to Geo. Honison and Bros.

12 June For Building a House at Avenue Head 7 1/2 roods at 9 (pounds)Scots 67.10 (pounds)

+ 4 1/2 roods dykes above the house, dyke between the 2 houses,

2 roods 26 ells dyke below house, and pinning dyke between the two (etc.) total 112.4 Ster (pounds)

Building the Northmost house at Avenue Road,

7 roods at 15/- 5.5

Masons' wages, building the Toofall (?), hewing steps, building stair,

and building Northmost and Southmost Facing wall 17 rood at 3/4 (etc.) 9.16.8 (pounds ster.)

8 roods dyke, dry stone and stone and lime, and 2 bridges over ditches. 35.6.8 (pounds scots.)

NMRS Print Room

W.Schomberg Scott Photograph Collection, Acc. No. 1997/39

2 Prints of the garden front.


Photographic Survey (April 1963)

Photographic survey by the Scottish National Buildings Record/Ministry of Work in April 1963.


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