Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 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. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 25433 73742
325433, 673742


William Playfair, 1850-59 with later alterations and additions, including WT Oldrieve, 1911-12 (see Notes). Cruciform Ionic temple/gallery on stylobate. Paired Ionic columns in antis to centre at N and S with entrance in pronaos, flanked by tetrastyle Ionic porticoes. E and W elevations pilastraded; higher central transverse block with hexastyle Ionic porticoes to centre of E and W elevations. Antifixae and acroteria to plain pediments. Solid parapet to higher central section, balustered to lower.

INTERIOR: 2 ranges of top-lit lozenge-shaped and octagonal galleries. Corinthian-columned screens between galleries. Curved stairs to N and S to galleries at upper level.

Statement of Special Interest

Foundation stone laid by Prince Albert 30th August 1850. Funded by the Treasury and the Board of Trustees, a large part of the site being given by the City at a nominal cost. Twin porticoes to N and S reflect the building's original dual function, divided longitudinally to accommodate the exhibition galleries of the RSA to E and the National Gallery permanent collection to W. Cost constraint was a factor in the unadorned style of the building. In 1912 the RSA galleries moved to the former Royal Institution building to N (separately listed). Internal alterations were made by WT Oldrieve in 1911-12. A railway tunnel runs under the building. In 1970 additional galleries were constructed in the basement to SE. An underground link to the former RSA building, which will provide access from East Princes Street Gardens, a cafe, lecture theatre and bookshop is under construction (2001).



Plans, Edinburgh University Library. Grant OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH (1885) vol II pp 88-93. AJ Youngson, THE MAKING OF CLASSICAL EDINBURGH (1966) pp 282-3. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1984) pp 282-3.

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. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. 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.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 01/06/2023 01:05