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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Group Category Details: A - see notes
  • Date Added: 14/12/1970


  • Local Authority: Edinburgh
  • Planning Authority: Edinburgh
  • Burgh: Edinburgh

National Grid Reference

  • NGR: NT 25165 73421
  • Coordinates: 325165, 673421


Circa 1503, built on 15th century undercrofts (separately listed) and incorporating earlier fabric (circa 1445), with later alterations and additions, including Hippolyte Jean Blanc, 1887-91. Random rubble with polished dressings. Pitch-roofed 4-bay rectangular-plan hall. Machicolation to eaves; coped crenellated parapet with half canon spouts. Moulded mullioned and transomed windows.

N ELEVATION: moulded cill course. Doors in roll-moulded surrounds to outer right and left, that to right in ogee-arched surround and flanked by columns. Gothic carved frames to decorative iron lights flanking W door. 4 mullioned and transomed windows with stained leaded glass; relieving arches to windows. Carved panel to centre with royal arms. Fragment of blocked original segmental-arched entrance to centre.

Greenish slates. Triangular coping to crowstepped skews. Cast-iron down pipes with decorative hoppers and fixings (fleurs-de-lys, roses and thistles). Pyramidally-coped end stacks.

INTERIOR: open hammer-beam timber roof with carved stone corbels. Hooded chimneypiece with statues (see Notes) to E. Gothic carved timber panelling, gallery, W screen, seats in S window embrasures and shutters to lower parts of windows. Decorative gothic copper pendant lamps with enamelled decoration.

Statement of Special Interest

The A Group comprises Batteries, Foog's Gate, Gatehouse, Governor's House, Great Hall, Lang Stairs, Military Prison, National War Museum, New Barracks, Old Guardhouse, Palace Block, Portcullis Gate, St Margaret's Chapel, Scottish National War Memorial, Telephone Kiosks, United Services Museum and Vaults, all within Edinburgh Castle, and in the Care of Historic Scotland. Timber dating of the roof beams has confirmed that the Great Hall was completed during the reign of James IV, probably at the time of the King's marriage to Margaret Tudor. The precocious Renaissance carved ornament to the corbels of the hammerbeam roof includes a vase containing thistles and a rose, and the monogram IR4. The exterior of the building shows French influence, the hammerbeam roof reflects English example. During Cromwell's occupation the Great Hall was used as a barracks, with timber galleries built round the walls. In 1737, intermediate floors were built, providing accommodation for 310 men in 6 barrack rooms on 3 floors. A Board of Ordnance survey drawing of 1754 shows the exterior of the building at this time (MacIvor ill 25). After the building of the New Barracks in 1799 the Hall became a military hospital. Blanc's radical restoration (financed by the publisher William Nelson) included removing dividing floors and partitions, grderobe 'excrescences' to S, rebuilding the parapet, the Gothic door to NW and the mullioned and transomed windows. Apart form the hammerbeam roof (which was altered at this time) the interior is entirely Blanc's. The statues on Blanc's hooded chimneypiece (based on an example at Borthwick Castle), by John Rhind, represent May, Flora, Aurora and Venus, a reference to Dunbar's poem THE THISTLE AND THE ROSE written to celebrate the marriage of James IV and Margaret Tudor. The carving of the panelling is based on that of the choir stalls at King's College, Aberdeen. The Great Hall now houses a collection of weapons on loan from the Tower of London Armouries.



Grant OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH (1885) p76. MacGibbon and Ross CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND (1887) pp445-463, figs 396-7. BUILDER 8 JAN 1887. RCAHMS INVENTORY EDINBURGH (1951) No1 pp1-25. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1984) p95-8. MacIvor EDINBURGH CASTLE (1993).

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

About Designations

Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. 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 Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. 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 current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 23/04/2018 14:21