Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 2592 7363
325920, 673630


John Mylne and John Scott, 1637-47 with later alterations by John Baxter, 1785; R and R Dickson, 1828; Robert Rowand Anderson, 1888-9 (see Notes). Highly distinctive Dutch-influenced Classical-Gothic survival style square-plan church with octagonal steeple surmounting landmark clock tower. Pale ashlar with ornate moulded dressings and obelisk finials.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: Entrance (N) Elevation: 3-bay with pedimented and traceried round-arched windows. Fluted Ionic pilasters, panelled to lower part with obelisk pinnacles. Round-arched timber door to advanced central section with cartouche and key-stoned circular window above; open pediment containing Town Arms. Large, timber double-leaf doors flanking. Tall, 3-stage clock-tower and steeple: lower stage squared with channelled pilasters and traceried window at each face. Above parapet; scrolled clock-faces with octagonal corner piers linked by round-arhed flying buttresses to tall octagonal stage; smaller octagon with round openings above rising to stone spire. E and W elevations: Gabled with 'naïve-and-aisles' treatment. Moulded string course; large round-arched windows flanked by smaller examples; shallow pediments to centre with obelisk finials.

INTERIOR: Fine hammerbeam type roof using sexfoil pattern. Otherwise interior stripped out with foundations of 16th century Marlins Wynd exposed beneath ground level with timber viewing platform and walk-way surrounding.

Leaded stained-glass windows. Grey Scottish slate. Cast-iron rainwater goods with ornamental rainheads.

Statement of Special Interest

Prominently situated at Hunter Square on the junction of High Street with South Bridge, the soaring spire of Tron Kirk is a significant Edinburgh landmark. Re-worked extensively over a 200 year period, this Gothic/Classical hybrid ecclesiastical building remains a nationally significant example of its type. The kirk was founded by King Charles I to house the congregation displaced from nearby St Giles when he made that church a cathedral.

Constructed between 1636 and 1647 to a T-plan design by John Mylne, Royal master mason and one of the last masters of the Scots-Mannerist style. The design mixed Palladian and Gothic elements, with a number of details with a contemporary Dutch influence. Master Wright, John Scott, who designed the internal hammerbeam roof was also responsible for the cinquefoil example at Parliament Hall (see separate listing). The full Chamberlain's Accounts for this project are still extant. The building was truncated in 1785 to rectangular-plan form, involving the removal of one windowed bay from E and W, and the S aisle reduced to a slight pediment projection with detail carefully matched to the original. This work took place to accommodate the construction of Hunter Square and the South Bridge. The kirk's wooden spire, added by Thomas Sandilands on 1671, burned down in 1824 and was replaced in stone in 1828. In 1952 the building closed as a church and was acquired by Edinburgh Council, the congregation moving to a new church in Mordun. It was unoccupied for many years, during which time Robert Rowan Anderson's gallery and pulpit interior of 1888 was removed. The steeple was restored by Andrew Renton, 1974-6. Internal excavations took place in 1974, revealing foundations of 16th century buildings in Marlins Wynd. This earlier fabric has been left visible within the building and the Tron currently houses an exhibition on the history of the Royal Mile (2007). The Kirk gets its name from the salt-tron, a public weighing beam once located outside the church.

Part of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site, the High Street extends from the Lawnmarket to the Canongate. It contains a number of the city's most significant religious and civic buildings including St Giles and Parliament House (see separate listings). As a whole its special architectural and historic interest is outstanding.

List description updated at resurvey (2007/08).



Rev D Butler, The Tron Kirk of Edinburgh (1906). John Gifford et al, Buildings of Scotland - Edinburgh, (1991) p172. Charles McKean, Edinburgh - An Illustrated Architectural Guide (1992) p37. RCAHMS Inventory 96 (refers to original house).

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 15/10/2019 09:27