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.


Group Category Details
100000019 - See Notes
Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 26439 73768
326439, 673768


Predominantly late 16th century with later alterations and additions (see Notes). Outstanding grouping of 16th and 17th century dwellings, amalgamated to form single museum complex. Comprising 3-storey and attic, triple-gabled building, circa 1570 (No 146) fronting Canongate and 2-storey and attic, single-gabled 17th century building (No 142) with balcony at NE corner. Pair of 1648 tenements with gabled projections adjoin to S (Bakehouse Close) with segmental-arched pend leading to enclosed courtyard to rear. Predominantly harled and white washed rubble with ashlar dressings.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: PRINCIPAL (N) ELEVATION: No 146: exposed rubble to ground, ashlar to 1st floor, separated by deep, bracketed string course. Harled timber construction at upper levels; jettied at 2nd floor and triple-gabled attic. Series of Latin inscriptions at 1st floor (see Notes). Segmental-arched pend to far left. No 142 (to left): rises to 3-storey and attic towards rear. Wing section to Bakehouse Close: 3-storey with cat-slide dormers breaking eaves; square crowstepped stairtower to E; pair of advanced gableted bays to SW. Segmental-arched pend towards N leading to enclosed courtyard featuring moulded, octagonal shafted sundial to centre and extensive collection of architectural fragments. Rubble boundary wall to S. Granite setts.

INTERIOR: Wealth of moulded fireplaces and oak-panelled rooms including early 18th century panelled room with lugged architraves and cornices. Late 16th century painted beams taken from Pinkie House, Musselburgh.

Predominantly 12-pane glazing to timber sash and case windows. Grey Scottish Slate. Mix of harled and exposed rubble end and co-axial stacks. Crow-stepped skews to E elevation. Clay cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

Statement of Special Interest

Part of an 'A Group' comprising Canongate Parish Church; Canongate Tolbooth; 167-169 Canongate; 142-146 Canongate, Huntly House; 140 Canongate, Acheson House and the Canongate Burgh Cross which together form the historic core of the former Canongate Burgh (see separate listings).

Particularly fine survival comprising an amalgamation of predominantly 16th century dwellings. Its traditional form adds considerable interest to this area of the Canongate streetscape. The building is also notable for its outstanding interior including timber panelled rooms and moulded fireplaces, some of which have been salvaged from other Edinburgh town houses of the period, long since demolished.

Originally three early 16th century tenements with street-facing timber-framed gable ends, the dwellings were integrated by John Acheson in 1570 to provide a single, relatively spacious residence and. The name of the building is misleading as it was not constructed as a great town house and the name is probably derived from George, 1st Marquis of Huntly's brief stay there in 1636. The building was subsequently owned by the guild of the Incorporation of Hammermen from 1647 who employed Robert Mylne (then master mason to the Crown) to extend the front block. The buildings were acquired by the Local Authority in 1924 and restoration work (including the conversion to a museum) was undertaken by city architect, Frank C Mears in 1927-32. The pair of 3-storey tenements of 1648 to the S were incorporated into Huntley House Museum at this time. No 142 Canongate, which has a 17th century core, was restored by renowned Edinburgh architect Ian Gordon Lindsay in 1962-5 and incorporated into the complex. Five inscriptions in Latin adorn the exterior wall. There are four from the 16th century and one which was added when Huntly House was restored by Frank C Mears.

The historic and architectural value of Edinburgh's Canongate area as a whole cannot be overstated. Embodying a spirit of permanence while constantly evolving, its buildings reflect nearly 1000 years of political, religious and civic development in Scotland. The Canons of Holyrood Abbey were given leave by King David I to found the burgh of Canongate in 1140. Either side of the street (a volcanic ridge) was divided into long, narrow strips of land or 'tofts'. By the end of the 15th century all the tofts were occupied, some subdivided into 'forelands' and 'backlands' under different ownership. Fuedal superiority over Canongate ceased after 1560. The following century was a period of wide-scale rebuilding and it was during this time that most of the areas' mansions and fine townhouses were constructed, usually towards the back of the tofts, away from the squalor of the main street. The 17th century also saw the amalgamation of the narrow plots and their redevelopment as courtyards surrounded by tenements. The burgh was formally incorporated into the City in 1856. Throughout the 19th Century the Canongate's prosperity declined as large sections of the nobility and middle classes moved out of the area in favour of the grandeur and improved facilities of Edinburgh's New Town, a short distance to the North. The Improvement Act of 1867 made efforts to address this, responding early on with large-scale slum clearance and redevelopment of entire street frontages. A further Improvement Act (1893) was in part a reaction to this 'maximum intervention', responding with a programme of relatively small-scale changes within the existing street pattern. This latter approach was more consistent with Patrick Geddes' concept of 'conservative surgery'. Geddes was a renowned intellectual who lived in the Old Town and was a pioneer of the modern conservation movement in Scotland which gathered momentum throughout the 20th century. Extensive rebuilding and infilling of sections of the Canongate's many tenements took place, most notably by city architects, E J McRae and Robert Hurd (mid 20th century) with some early frontages retained and others rebuilt in replica.

Prior to resurvey (2007/08), Number 142 Canongate was listed separately. List description updated at resurvey (2007/08).



The Royal Commission on the Ancient Monuments of Scotland, 'An inventory of the ancient and historical monuments of the city of Edinburgh with the thirteenth report of the Commission, Edinburgh No. 104' (1951) p168-73. Huntly House 'Huntly House Museum: History, Architectural Features and Guide' Revision, (1953). John Gifford et al, Buildings of Scotland - Edinburgh, (1991) p217. Charles McKean, Edinburgh - An Illustrated Architectural Guide (1992) p37.

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: 04/10/2023 04:11