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Edinburgh, Lawnmarket, Weigh House

Jail (17th Century), Tron (Medieval), Weigh House (Medieval), Weigh House (Post Medieval)

Site Name Edinburgh, Lawnmarket, Weigh House

Classification Jail (17th Century), Tron (Medieval), Weigh House (Medieval), Weigh House (Post Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Castlehill

Canmore ID 52324

Site Number NT27SE 3

NGR NT 2551 7354

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

NT25SE 3 2550 7353

(NT 2550 7353) Weigh Houses (NR) (site of)

OS 1/1250 plan, (1970)

At least four weigh-houses have in turn occupied this site, at the corner of the West Bow and Castle Hill. The earliest recorded one was destroyed by the English in 1384. In 1561, the "Over Tron" or "Butter Tron" stood here; another, called the "Weigh-House" replaced the old building in 1614. It was destroyed by Cromwell in 1650. The last was built in 1660, its cellar being used as a jail. It was demolished in 1822, to widen the approach to the Castle.

RCAHMS 1951.

No trace. No further information.

Visited by OS (J L D) 25 December 1953.

Architecture Notes


4 pages of text giving details of newspaper articles about Statue of George III in City Chambers -filed under "ROYAL EXCHANGE, STATUE, OLD COUNCIL CHAMBERS"


Watching Brief (27 January 2012 - 16 March 2012)

NT 2551 7353 (centred on) A watching brief was maintained 27 January – 16 March 2012 on work associated with the replacement of a main gas pipe in Edinburgh’s Old Town. The work consisted of the excavation of a series of trenches along Johnston Terrace, the S side of the Castle Rock and the Lawnmarket at the top of the High Street.

A range of deposits and features were recorded, with the clearest distinction existing between the deposits on Johnston Terrace and the High Street or Upper Bow. The survival of archaeological remains was significantly better along Johnston Terrace than the High Street. The construction of this surprisingly broad road in 1827, curving up the S side of the Castle Rock, involved a significant amount of landscaping. All the trenches were dug on the S (downslope) side of the road and all contained similar deep deposits of material, presumably part of the 19th-century landscaping. As the trenches moved up Johnston Terrace progressively more deposits rich in mortar and sandstone fragments were seen. These are interpreted as debris from the buildings demolished to make way for Johnston Terrace.

To the E of the line of Castle Wynd the trenches produced deposits thought to predate the building of Johnston Terrace. These were often buried at a significant depth below the modern road surface, up to 1.65m. Many of these trenches produced evidence for good quality soils, up to 1.5m deep, often brown in colour and frequently very rich in charcoal. These have been interpreted as probable midden-enhanced, cultivated soils, reflecting backland activity. While some may represent vegetable plots others may be more formal gardens, especially to the W, where they should lie in the Duke of Gordon’s property (NT27SE 636).

Five of the trenches on Johnston Terrace produced evidence of structural remains, although these were difficult to interpret. One trench produced evidence for a wall and a drain, both dug down through the midden-enhanced soils. Its position could correspond to the back (W) wall of the Duke of Gordon’s property, on the line of Castle Wynd. The drain aligns well with the close at the end of Columba’s Church (NT27SE 735). The most dramatic feature recorded was a partly filled cellar. This was a thin structure orientated SW–NE, reflecting the alignment of houses fronting onto Upper Bow. Evidence for further building on its SE side was noted, with some features suggesting a further structure(s) continuing along this line. The 1.2m of rubble that overlay this feature was probably derived from the demolition of the buildings.

Immediately to the NE, in the area of Upper Bow, probable natural soils were recorded only 0.65m below the current road surface. This would seem to indicate that the cellar found nearby and the structural evidence noted to the NW must have been dug into the subsoil. Further down Johnston Terrace deposits have been well sealed by the construction of the road. While the buildings have been torn down, below ground deposits are probably well preserved. Although (as noted above) this may only relate to a narrow strip along the S side of the Street. A small area of cobbling at the top of Upper Bow probably represents the road surface prior to the construction of Johnston Terrace. Little archaeology survived in the area of the High Street that was probably lowered by up to 1m in the late 18th or early 19th century. A deep cut was identified which may relate to the earliest foundations of the Weigh House (NT27SE 3).

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Scotland Gas Networks

Gordon Ewart, Kirkdale Archaeology

David Murray,



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