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Edinburgh, 123 High Street

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

Site Name Edinburgh, 123 High Street

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

Alternative Name(s) 2 North Gray's Close

Canmore ID 52316

Site Number NT27SE 292

NGR NT 25993 73681

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 292 25993 73681

Several building dates, reduced in height c.1970; now 2 storeys. Single storey modern shop front occupies 2 former lower floors; 1st floor is second half 17th/early 18th-century. Concealed modern roof behind timber fascia. Early rubble stonework in flank to North Gray's Close, includes a 16th-century doorway.

RCAHMS 1951.

NT 2600 7370 An analytical assessment was undertaken of the standing buildings occupying the 123-133 High Street frontage, and the structures lining Bishop's Close and North Grey's Close behind to the N, the whole site consisting of three tenements. This revealed that, while incorporating early remains, the two W tenements had been substantially reconstructed at the beginning of the 19th century, including a single pedimented frontage, while the E tenement retained a frontage that dates to c 1700. All had been substantially reduced in height following fire damage. The relative alignments of the cellarage and pends to the closes suggested that the frontage had been successively extended into the High Street in two stages.

North Grey's Close contained the only substantial surviving remains of back tenement structures, in this case well preserved and including the substantial ruin known as Bishop Sydserff's House. The North Grey's Close W frontage, including these structures, was recorded in detail, as was a ground plan of Sydserff's. General architectural analysis identified at least three phases within this group of structures including two, possibly three, within Bishop Sydserff's House itself, the last associated with a datestone of 1581. It is possible that these constructions came in the wake of the destruction of parts of the city in the mid-16th century.

A 1m wide evaluation trench was excavated across the width of the central sub-division of Bishop Sydserff's House in order to examine ground conditions therein. Below a series of 19th-century earthfast floor joists and associated make-up, natural subsoil was exposed within the majority of the trench. Only at the N end were construction deposits encountered, producing a small quantity of medieval East Coast Red Ware. It appears that the construction of the existing structure, which was heavily terraced into the natural slope of the hill, had obliterated all earlier townscape remains in this area.

Sponsor: Cockburn Conservation Trust.

T Addyman 2001


Standing Building Recording (February 2009)

NT 2599 7368 A Level 1–2 standing building survey and watching brief were carried out February 2009 at North Grey’s, Bishops and Carrubbers Closes as part of redevelopment above the Mitre and Royal Mile public houses. An early 19th-century tenement building occupied the site until its removal during the 1970s. The survey recorded a number of features mainly relating to blocked doors and windows. The derelict remains of Bishop Sydserff’s House (1589) borders the northern boundary of the site.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended). Report: CECAS SMR

Funder: Unicorn Property Group

Mike Cressey – CFA Archaeology Ltd

Standing Building Recording (September 2016 - February 2017)

NT 2599 7368 Level 1 and 2 building surveys were undertaken, September 2016 – February 2017, in the interior of 123–130 High Street. The Level 1 survey recorded the interior of the first-floor rooms situated above the Royal Mile Public House and Ladbrokes before they are altered as part of a new development. The oldest recorded feature was probably the original common stair.

The Level 2 survey included fabric recording on the floor joists at second-floor level and on the partition wall between the new development and Bishop Sydserff’s House. The floor joists were subject to dendrochronological dating showing they were installed c1838. A blocked doorway in the partition wall proved that both buildings shared access to the turnpike staircase. Timbers associated with a spiral staircase were also recorded.

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

Funder: Unicorn Property Group

Michael Cressey – CFA Archaeology Ltd

(Source: DES, Volume 18)


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