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 26042 74023
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.

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: 30/11/2022 21:50