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 25709 73112
325709, 673112


George Smith, 1848. Pair of tall octagonal-plan commemorative gatepiers marking the N entrance to Middle Meadow Walk. Plain octagonal plinths with slender shouldered panels above and corniced smooth capital with paired rampant unicorns, with gilded lances. E unicorn decorated with Edinburgh's coat of arms and the motto "nemo me impune lacessit". W unicorn with rampant lion and motto "nisi dominus frustra". Smooth ashlar.

Statement of Special Interest

A fine example of mid 19th century civic street architecture, ceremoniously marking the entrance to the Meadows Park from the N and making a strong contribution to the streetscape of the area.

In the 17th century the Meadows was occupied by the South or Burgh Loch which provided the town with water for drinking, washing and brewing. In the early 18th century the area was drained and a pleasure ground established with perimeter paths, hedges, lime avenues, drainage canals and a summerhouse. An Act of Parliament of 1827, which protected the Meadows from being built upon, predated the national movement in the 1830s to create parks for the improvement of public health in the overcrowded conditions of rapidly expanding towns. The erection of this grand entrance to the Meadows in the mid 19th century coincided with the granting of full public access and the creation of a number of walks crossing the park, and is a fine example of the role of public subscription in the development of such places as a focus of civic pride.

The gatepiers were built by public subscription in the 1840s but were not completed as planned due to insufficient funds. The original design planned four pillars with the two central ones to be surmounted by unicorns. When the required funds were not fully raised, only the central pillars were built and without the planned unicorns. In 1849, George Smith, (1793-1877) architect and designer of the pillars appealed to Edinburgh Town Council to help finance the completion of the gatepiers. The Council agreed to pay Mr Handyside Ritchie, sculptor, £55 for the erection of the unicorns on top of the two pillars. The unicorns are carved from Binny freestone.

George Smith was appointed architect to the Edinburgh Improvement Commissioners in 1834. He carried out several commissions in the immediate area such as on George IV Bridge and West Bow.

(List description updated at re-survey 2011-12.)


Bibliography The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association ( Dictionary of Scottish Architects, (accessed 2011).

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.

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Printed: 24/01/2022 02:45