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- Category: A
- Date Added: 19/04/1966
- Local Authority: Edinburgh
- Planning Authority: Edinburgh
- Burgh: Edinburgh
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NT 26042 74023
- Coordinates: 326042, 674023
Established 1718. Burial ground situated on steeply sloping site on Calton Hill and bisected by Waterloo Place (see Notes), with a fine collection of primarily 18th and 19th century monuments, lairs, headstones and tablestones, in a variety of styles, many with intricate carving and momenti mori. Screen walls to Waterloo Place. Rows of Classical lairs with round-arched entrances with open-pediments above.
Notable monuments include:
Robert Adam, 1777. 2-stage Classical cylindrical tower with fluted frieze to 1st stage and Doric frieze with paterae to 2nd stage. Rough ashlar, with smooth ashlar margins. Base course, cornice, blocking course. Moulded door surround with decorative metal entrance gate and engraved plaque above inscribed 'DAVID HUME, BORN APRIL 26th 1711 DIED AUGUST 25th 1776. ERECTED IN MEMORY OF HIM IN 1778'. Large urn set in niche above.
Thomas Hamilton, 1844. Tall ashlar obelisk on square-plan base plinth. Dedicated to Political Martyrs of 1793. Inscribed on plinth.
George E Bissell, 1893. Tiered polished red granite plinth surmounted by bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln and with further seated bronze figure at base with one arm outstretched. (See Notes)
SCREEN WALLS: Archibald Eliot, 1815. Long, Classical, screen walls to N and S sides of Waterloo Place with regularly spaced niches to Waterloo Place. Ashlar. Cornice and blocking course. Punctuated by slightly projecting sections containing niches flanked by Doric columns. Central round-arched gateway to S wall with 2-leaf decorative metal gates.
Statement of Special Interest
Calton Old Burial Ground is one of the most significant and important of Edinburgh's graveyards, situated on a spectacular sloping site and containing many excellent quality 18th and 19th century monuments in a juxtaposition of styles and dedicated to a variety of famous persons. The graveyard also contains many stones with finely carved momenti mori. The Robert Adam tower, dedicated to the philosopher Hume with its fine Classical design and the Thomas Hamilton monument, with its prominence within the site, are particularly worthy of note, as are the rows of family lairs which form a particularly fine picturesque setting.
It is thought that Adam based his designs here on the tomb of Theodoric at Ravenna.
The Political Martyrs were transported in 1793, charged with sedition and transported to Australia for demanding political and parliamentary reform.
The American Civil War Memorial, was raised to remember the Scottish soldiers who died in the American Civil War and is the only such memorial outside the United States.
Opened in 1718 for burial of tradesmen and merchants, the graveyard was extended at the beginning of the 19th century. The burial ground was divided into two by the building of Waterloo Place in 1818, with the larger section being at the South and a smaller area to the North. The majority of the monuments are situated in the larger, Southern site. Some of the disturbed graves were moved to the New Calton Burial Ground (see separate listing).
The screen wall was designed by Archibald Eliot who was responsible for the creation of Waterloo Place and the bisection of the cemetery.
List description revised as part of Edinburgh Holyrood Ward resurvey 2007-08.
John Ainslie, Map of Old and New Town of Edinburgh and Leith with the proposed Docks, 1804. E J Macrae, The Heritage of Greater Edinburgh, 1947 p41. John Gifford, Colin McWilliam and David Walker, The Buildings of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1984. p438. Charles McKean, Edinburgh, An Illustrated Architectural History, 1992, p100.
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