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Edinburgh, 481, 483, 485, 487 And 489 Lawnmarket, Gladstone's Land

Museum (19-20th Century), Tenement (16th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, 481, 483, 485, 487 And 489 Lawnmarket, Gladstone's Land

Classification Museum (19-20th Century), Tenement (16th Century)

Alternative Name(s) James' Court

Canmore ID 52528

Site Number NT27SE 63

NGR NT 25549 73582

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

NT27SE 63 25549 73582

(NT 2554 7358) Gladstone's Land: Standing on the N side of the Lawnmarket and extending at the back into St James' Court, this building takes its name from Thomas Glaidstanes, burgess and guild-brother of Edinburgh, who became its proprietor in 1631. In 1934 it was acquired by the National Trust for Scotland. It has a special interest as being the last building let in Edinburgh with an arcaded front. Portions of the building date from the 16th century (RCAHMS 1948).

R Hurd 1948; RCAHMS 1951.

As described above - the property of the National Trust for Scotland. Visited by OS (J D) 26 December 1953.

Still known as 'Gladstone's Land.'

Visited by OS 8 February 1954; Information from R F Landon, City Architect's Office, Edinburgh.

As described by previous field report.

Visited by OS (S F S) 27 November 1975.

Awaiting DES 2000 entry (2000/p.35).

Architecture Notes

One of the finest houses in Edinburgh. Six storeys in height. Arcaded ground floor, upper two running into picturesque gables. Interior-good painted ceilings and large fireplaces. Timbered back. Built 1617-20.

See NMRS Collections SK/Ferg/10, William Lee Ferguson Sketch Book for pencil sketch of elevation of Gladstone's Land, insc: 'Gladstone's Land. Lawnmarket'

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC23561- DC23560, 1933- 1933, 1959 & 1961.

(Undated) information in NMRS.


Publication Account (1981)

Gladstone’s Land is of interest being the only structure left in Edinburgh with a genuine arcade, also once a common feature of the High Street (RCAM, 1951, 74). Remains of sixteenth-seventeenth-and eighteenth-century work abound in this six-storey building (Hurd, 1948, 14). Dormer windows and crow-stepped gables are another feature along with a wooden painted ceiling dating from 1620 (Hurd, 1948, 19). Gladstone's Land, which was restored in 1935.

Information from ‘Historic Edinburgh, Canongate and Leith: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1981).

Project (1997)

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association ( set up a National Recording Project in 1997 with the aim of making a survey of public monuments and sculpture in Britain ranging from medieval monuments to the most contemporary works. Information from the Edinburgh project was added to the RCAHMS database in October 2010 and again in 2012.

The PMSA (Public Monuments and Sculpture Association) Edinburgh Sculpture Project has been supported by Eastern Photocolour, Edinburgh College of Art, the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, Historic Scotland, the Hope Scott Trust, The Old Edinburgh Club, the Pilgrim Trust, the RCAHMS, and the Scottish Archive Network.

Field Visit (21 August 2002)

Sign in the form of a frame with a crown and scrolls in relief, top and bottom, hangs from a steel bracket.

Above the outer end of the sign a gilded hawk picks up a gilded mouse.

Inspected By : D. King

Inscriptions : Painted in gold letters within frame :

Gladstone's / Land / 1617

Signatures : None

Design period : 1970s (hawk and mouse) / c.2002 (sign)

Information from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA Work Ref : EDIN0845)

Reference (February 2013 - February 2013)

Gladstone’s Land is a 7-storey (including cellar and attic) tenement on the Lawnmarket end of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. It dates largely from the 17th century, though parts of the rear of the building date back to the 16th century. The back tenement and a later 18th century north wing were demolished c. 1895 during works to restore neighbouring Lady Stair’s House.

Gladstone’s is certainly the earliest and most complete survival in Scotland of this type of tall, narrow-fronted dormer-gabled tenement, and its arcaded ground floor and dressed stone frontage, with curved stone forestair, are of considerable rarity.

Historic Building Recording work carried out in 2000 on the Bar Parlour at Gladstone’s Land noted a number of recesses that may have been presses or cupboards as well as historic wall coverings dating to the rooms use as a public house and earlier. The original floor level was identified as being 0.47m above that of today; and the removal of planking in a recess revealed a well preserved sash & case window. On the exterior a blocked-in window correlates with the position of the recess, and it is highly likely that this occurred in the 19th century.

Within the interior of Gladstone’s Land, the painted walls and ceilings of the first, second and third floor front rooms are noteable, with the second floor ceiling having been dated to 1620. The Historic Building Recording work in 2000 recorded two sequences of decoration in the southern wall of the Bar Parlour.

(Information from NTS, February 2013)

Information from NTS

Standing Building Recording (1 November 2014 - 1 March 2015)

NT 25549 73582 A comprehensive review of the history of Gladstone’s Land, 483 Lawnmarket, was undertaken 1 November 2014 – 1 March 2015. The work aimed to develop a detailed understanding of the site, and this information will be used to inform future management and development


The work confirmed previous theories that the building was built in several stages from perhaps as early as the late medieval period. It was significantly extended southwards c1620 with the addition of the front column of rooms with painted beam and board ceilings, probably with a timber frontage to the street. This was subsequently rebuilt in masonry to its present appearance. The newly formed NTS purchased the building for housing in the 1930s, without knowing of the remarkable survival of the painted ceilings. Their conservation in the 1930s, which involved the removal of almost all interior features not considered authentic to the 17th century, revealed the ceilings concealed under later plaster. These ceilings have been restored and de-restored several times and the building itself altered internally and externally several times in the 20th century.

Archive: NTS and NRHE (intended)

Funder: The National Trust for Scotland

Tom Addyman, Kenneth Macfadyen, Jenni Morrison and Nicholas Uglow – Addyman Archaeology

(Source: DES, Volume 17)


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