Scheduled Monument

Edinburgh Town Wall, Flodden Wall and Telfer Wall, Heriot PlaceSM2901

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Secular: town wall
Local Authority
NT 25399 73169
325399, 673169


The monument comprises a tower of the Flodden Wall and a section of the Telfer Wall, the remains of parts of two of Edinburgh's late medieval town walls, dating to circa 1513 and 1630 respectively. The tower lies on the E side of the Vennel at NT 2534 7322, and the section of the Telfer Wall adjoins the tower and runs SE down the E side of Heriot Place from NT 2535 7322 to NT 2545 7308. The monument was originally scheduled in 1970, but is being re-scheduled in order to clarify the extent of the scheduled area and to relate it to a modern map.

The construction of the Flodden Wall is traditionally linked to the fear of English invasion following the defeat of the Scottish army at Flodden in 1513. However, it is thought that the threat of invasion gave added impetus to a project that was already underway to enclose the expanded burgh, as some ports on the line of the Wall existed at least eight years before the Battle of Flodden. Construction work on the Wall was carried out in several phases until around 1560. Documentary evidence testifies that: the Flodden Wall had six main ports; it included towers at strategic points; it was crenellated; and that the stone used in its rubble construction was quarried locally. The Wall was clearly defensive in intent, but it also defined the legal limit of the medieval burgh in the early 16th century, and would have controlled the passage of people, goods and animals into and out of the burgh, thereby serving to secure the payment of custom dues and prevent the spread of disease.

The Telfer Wall was constructed circa 1628-36 to enclose land that had been acquired by the town council, including the land now occupied by George Heriot's School and land to the S and SE of Greyfriars Churchyard. The Telfer Wall, named after its mason, John Tailfer or Tailefer, was essentially an extension of the Flodden Wall. The Telfer Wall was also built of a local sandstone, but the blocks used in its random rubble construction are of a different colour and tend to be larger than those used in the Flodden Wall.

The scheduling includes the only surviving upstanding tower of the Flodden Wall. The tower is almost square in plan, which is somewhat of an anomaly as the tower in the Wall at Drummond Street was recorded as being round, and all contemporary depictions of the Flodden Wall show the towers as round. The walls of the tower are about 1.2m thick and stand 5-6m high, with restored crenellations at the top. The S and W walls of the tower are complete, whereas the N wall is incomplete where it was at one time incorporated into a school laundry building. One gunloop is preserved in the N wall, two are preserved in the W wall, and one survives in the S wall of the tower. A double window was inserted in the S wall by the town council in 1876, as testified by the inscription above it; this window is now infilled with stone. A metal handrail is set into the W wall and there is a modern metal plaque, reading 'Flodden Wall', fixed into the masonry of the S wall of the tower.

The section of the Telfer Wall adjoins the S side of the Flodden Wall tower, about 1m or so higher than the top of the tower crenellations, and runs SE along the E side of Heriot Place, forming the W boundary wall of George Heriot's School. The Telfer Wall is also crenellated, and was consolidated in the 1980s. Several modern drain pipes run through the Telfer Wall, near the tower. There is an old doorway with classical detailing, complete with a wooden door, in the Wall; there is also an old archway with wooden gates a little to the S of the doorway.

Around 95m S of the tower, the Telfer Wall drops some 3m in height and the wall here is thinner and topped by flat cope-stones. This section has been rebuilt using the stone of a demolished stretch of the Telfer Wall, and has another doorway through it, complete with metal sliding doors. The height of this section of the Wall decreases again further to the S and the wall continues to the S end of Heriot Place.

There are two modern metal plaques, reading 'Telfer Wall', fixed into the masonry of the wall at either end of Heriot Place.

The area to be scheduled is linear in plan to include the Telfer Wall, which measures some 175m long by 1.2-1.7m wide (maximum), and the tower of the Flodden Wall, which measures 8.3m maximum from NW-SE, has a total wall length of 17.2m and is up to 1.2m thick, all as marked in red on the accompanying map. The Vennel steps, pavement, all upstanding buildings adjacent to the Telfer Wall and the Flodden Wall tower, handrails, modern drain pipes, and the modern wooden door, gates and metal sliding doors are specifically excluded from scheduling to allow for their routine maintenance.



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About Scheduled Monuments

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.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

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Printed: 16/08/2022 23:56