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Edinburgh, Blackfriars' Dominican Monastery

Friary (medieval), Grave Slab (medieval)

Site Name Edinburgh, Blackfriars' Dominican Monastery

Classification Friary (medieval), Grave Slab (medieval)

Canmore ID 52514

Site Number NT27SE 51

NGR NT 2611 7348

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2016.

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 51 2615 7348.

(Name: NT 2615 7348) Site of (NAT) Friary (NR) (Dominican - Founded AD. 1230)

OS 25"map, (1968)

The Blackfriars' (Dominican) Friary occupied a large area lying between the Cowgate and Drummond Street, W of the Pleasance and E of the end of Infirmary Street. The ground was given by Alexander II in 1230. The buildings were partly destroyed in 1528 and 1544, but were later repaired, to be finally destroyed by Reformers in 1559. The lands and possessions of this house were given to the magistrates and Town Council of Edinburgh in 1566-7.

RCAHMS 1951; D E Easson 1957.

No trace remains of this friary. Its site is now built up.

Visited by OS (J L D) 26 December 1953.

Architecture Notes


4 pages of text giving history and details of site of Blackfriars Monastery -filed under "THE HIGH SCHOOL OF EDINBURGH, THE ORIGINAL SCHOOLS AND THE SCHOOL OF 1578"


Trial Trench (1977)

Trial excavation by hand in 1977 on the site of a recently demolished building in the area once occupied by the friary cleared modern debris and located a large deposit of mortared rubble. At a depth of 1.7m the excavation had to be abandoned as the rubble was loosely packed and dangerous.

N M M Holmes 1977; A S Simpson, S Stevenson, N Holmes 1981.

Excavation (27 June 2012 - 10 May 2013)

Headland Archaeology Ltd was commissioned by The University of Edinburgh to undertake a programme of archaeological works to meet the

conditions on a planning application, placed by the City of Edinburgh Council on the development of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation at the Old High School, Infi rmary Street, Edinburgh. The area of the Old High School was of interest as an earlier building, the 16th century Royal High School, was demolished to make way for its construction. It was also the speculated location of a Dominican Friary founded in 1260 and demolished during the Reformation in 1559.

Since 2010 Headland Archaeology Ltd has been involved in the redevelopment of the Old High School with a scope of the work has including a watching brief, historic building recording and excavation. The watching brief revealed limited evidence of buildings to the rear of the Old High School and a number of culverts to the front of the building. The excavation was located near the entrance of the building and contained the remains of the 16th century Royal High School, as well as part of the Dominican Friary and associated graveyard. In total 95 burials were excavated including one burial which had an elaborately carved grave slab.

Information from Edward Bailey (Headland Archaeology) May 2014. OASIS ID: headland1-141328


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