15th century with many later alterations and additions, including major reconstruction 1615-17. Rectangular, double pile building resting on massive vaulted undercrofts (circa 1382); moulded string course between 2nd and 3rd floors to E and N; corbelled out crenellated parapet with prominent cannon spouts; corbelled out square-plan turrets to E corners; engaged octagonal stair towers to N and W. Random rubble with polished dressings, 1615 work to N ashlar.
E ELEVATION: (show front facing Old Town) remains of 3 15th century oriels, 2 corbelled out from wall, 1 on polygonal stem rising from rock. Corbelled out square-plan turrets with ogee leaded roofs (re-instated 1939) to outer left and right. Pedimented windows to 1st and 2nd floors (that to centre segmental) with carved and gilded royal emblems, date (1616) and initials (IR6); panels flanking centre window, that to right now blank (until 1653 enclosing royal arms), that to left with relief depicting Honours of Scotland.
W ELEVATION: 3 floors to right, 4 floors to left; octagonal crenellated 6-stage stair tower (originally ogee-roofed, raised by 2 floors in 1820) with string courses to each stage to centre; carved panel with royal insignia, initials (ER) and date (1993); clock face to 5th stage, louvred opening to 6th stage. Round-arched entrance with rusticated voussoirs to right; cartouche over with monogram (MAH) and date (1566).
N ELEVATION: octagonal ogee-roofed 4-stage stair tower with string course between each stage to centre. Mullioned and transomed windows to left with carved and gilded royal emblems in pediments (that to 2nd floor segmental).
Cast-iron down pipes with decorative hoppers and fixings (thistles, fleurs-de lys, roses and initials (IR4).
INTERIOR: 2 earlier stone fireplaces flanked by colonnettes at ground floor. Small timber panelled closet to SE (see Notes) with bolection-moulded chimneypiece, painted compartmented ceiling and painted decoration to upper walls (later panelling to lower part of walls).
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. The rectangular block on the E side of Crown Square originated as the 15th century Great Chamber. It was remodelled for the visit of James VI in 1617, the 1st floor being rebuilt and a new 2nd storey added. The King's master mason, William Wallace was in charge, although James Murray, the Master of Works may have provided a design. The Great Chamber was divided at ground floor level in 1615-17, providing a suite of ceremonial rooms; recently completed work (1999) conjecturally replicates the interiors of these rooms (plaster ceilings, timber panelling, painted decoration). The closet to SE was the room in which Queen Mary gave birth to the future James VI and I. It was painted by John Anderson in 1617, who was paid ?100 Scots in 1617 for painting 'the room where His Majesty was born' and for furnishing gold colours and workmanship. The ceiling is decorated with thistles and roses and crowned monograms IR and MR, while the walls have the Royal Arms of Scotland and the date 19 Junii 1566, that of the birth of James VI. New suites of rooms were built on the 1st floor to E for James, and on the 2nd floor for Queen Ann (who did not, in fact accompany him). The Crown Room on 1st floor now houses the Honours of Scotland. The high level arch between the Palace and what is now the Scottish National War Memorial appears in Alexander Nasmyth's painting of the Castle of circa 1780.