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
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 25750 73473
325750, 673473


James Bow Dunn, 1888-92. 6-storey, 10-bay, rectangular-plan, Scots Baronial addition to the Supreme Courts of Scotland, built to house outstanding Solicitors Library hall at upper levels.

6TH FLOOR: red sandstone ashlar with elaborate mouldings and dressings. Characterised by large, corbelled-out, mullioned and transomed oriel windows; castellated parapet; crocketed octagonal turret with stone gargoyles at SW angle; crowstepped gable to hall roof with massive bifurcated stacks at apex.

LOWER FLOORS: S ELEVATION: squared and snecked rubble with red sandstone ashlar dressings. Regular arrangement of red ashlar pilasters to ground with in-and-out quoin treatment at 1st to 3rd floors. 2-leaf timber doors at regular intervals with recessed entrance to centre. W ELEVATION: irregular fenestration; pedimented inscription panel betwen 3rd and 4th floors.

Variety of glazing including 15-pane timber sash and case windows; leaded windows with diamond pattern. Grey slate. Tall, twin end stacks and shouldered wallhead stacks to N and S elevations between oriels. Clay cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: LIBRARY HALL: Lavishly decorated with pedimented doorpiece leading to main hall with elaborate, partially-glazed, vaulted ceiling with hanging bosses and ornamental plasterwork; Jacobean pilastered arcaded carrels with consoled and keystoned arches; timber mezzanine level with cast-iron railings. Panelled and consoled frieze with garlands and swags and dentiled cornice. Large, round-arched stained glass windows to E and W flanked by statuettes at ceiling level. Pair of richly ornamented cast-iron and copper chandeliers.

Advocate's rest room to SE corner with corner bay recess and fine ribbed plasterwork ceiling. Substantial hardwood staircase with outsize carved timber newels and turned bannisters; leaded and stained glass inscribed 'Erskine Stair'.

Ground to 4th floor to Cowgate (ostensibly basement levels) substantially refurbished and altered for use as accommodation.

Statement of Special Interest

The Library of the Solicitors in the Supreme Court at 94-116 Cowgate is a particulalrly impressive late 19th century Scots Baronial addition to the Supreme Courts of Scotland. It is distinguished by its elaborately detailed upper storey library hall, with corbelled oriel windows and turreted SW corner, designed to be seen from the vantage point of George IV Bridge which over-sails the Cowgate to the W. The interior scheme, housing one of Scotland's finest and most extensive legal libraries, is particularly outstanding with lavish Jacobean detailing including exceptional plasterwork, decorative light fittings and fine stained glass. James Bow Dunn, a local architect of considerable repute, secured the £23,000 commission in a competition, over a string of well-respected practices also invited to submit entries. These included Archibald Macpherson, Alexander Paterson, Hippolyte Blanc, George Washington Brown and Sydney Mitchell. The renowned family of stained-glass craftsmen, James Ballatine and Sons provided the fine windows within the hall and also for the 'Erskine Stair' featuring portraits of various lawyers.

The Library of the Solicitors in the Supreme Court was established in 1784 as a result of pressure for more accommodation at Parliament House (see separate listing).

Change of Category from B to A and list description revised as part of Edinburgh Holyrood Ward Resurvey (2007/08).



British Architect, July 13 and August 24 (1888). Mechanical copies of plans, sections and elevations for the Solicitors Library can be found in the Alfred Lochhead collection, held at RCAHMS (accession no. 1997/101). Niall Braidwood, An Essay on the Collaborative and Independent Work of James Bow Dunn and James Leslie Findlay (Copy held in the Scott Sutherland Library, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen). John Gifford et al, Buildings of Scotland - Edinburgh, (1991) p118, 121, 124. Charles McKean, Edinburgh - An Illustrated Architectural Guide (1992) p29.

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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