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.