The monument comprises a stretch of the Flodden Wall, one of Edinburgh's late medieval town walls, dating to circa 1513, and lying from NT 2527 7339 to NT 2528 7334. The monument was originally scheduled in 1970, but there have been a number os developments in its immediate vicinity since that date, as well as archaeological investigations and recording. This re-scheduling affords the monument protection in its modern setting, extends the scheduling to include the whole length of this stretch of the wall, and takes account of information gleaned from recent investigations.
The construction of the flodden wall is traditionally linked to the fear of English invasion following the defeat of the Scottish army at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. The wall enclosed areas of the town that had grown outside the limits of earlier town walls, as well as the churches of the Greyfriars, Kirk O'Field and the Blackfriars. Part of the wall ran along the same line as several ports, which are documented as having been in existence at least eight years before the Battle of Flodden. It is thought likely, therefore, that the threat of invasion gave added impetus to a project already underway to enclose the expanded burgh.
Some sections of the Flodden Wall comprised fortification of an existing wall(s), for example, the strengthening of existing lines of buildings, property boundary dykes, and, possibly, an older town wall. It is documented that work on the Wall was carried out in this manner in several phases until around 1560; as a concequence, the construction method was neither uniform nor consistent.
Documentary evidence testifies that the Flodden Wall had six main ports; that it included towers at strategic points; that is 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 W extremity of the Flodden Wall ran from the foot of Edinburgh Castle rock down to the W end of and across Grassmarket, before continuing up the Vennel. Excavations and structural analysis of the Wall running from the top to the older steps near Johnstone Terrace down to the Grassmarket revealed that the original 16th-century Wall survives to a height of at least 1.2m beneath its later components; and that the older part of the Wall is battered towards its base of the E side, and is constructed of roughly dressed sandstone and whinstone blocks bonded with lime mortar. The upper 1.85m of the Wall was found to be a 19th-century rebuild, and the remains of an 18th-century structure were detected, built adjacent to the W side of the lower 1.35m of the original Wall, just N of No.4 Grassmarket.
Concrete steps now lie adjecent to the W side of the Wall, running between Grassmarket and the older flight of steps near Johnston Terrace, and metal handrails are fixed into the Wall. A dance studio lies near the E side of the N end of the scheduled area, and a modern wall, with a 2001 date-stone, has been constructed to fill the gap where the above-ground elements of the Flodden Wall had collapsed in the original scheduled area. A gateway has also been formed through the N part of the 19th-century rebuild of the Wall, as an egress from the dance studio.
The area to be scheduled is linear and measures a maximum of 47.2m by 1.9m, to include the Flodden Wall and its underground batter, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The modern concrete steps, the older steps leading down from Johnstone Terrace, the boundary wall at the N end of the scheduled area, all of the adjacent upstanding buildings including The Three Quarters Bar (a former church), the 2001 stretch of rebuilt wall, the handrails, and the top 1.85m of the other sections of the 19th-century wall are specifically excluded from scheduling.
RCAHMS records the monument as NT27SE 1 4.
Bryce W M 1909, 'THE FLODDEN WALL OF EDINBURGH', in The Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, 61-79.
Cullen The Hon Lord 1988, THE WALLS OF EDINBURGH: A SHORT GUIDE, The Cockburn Association.
Listed building information for HB Num.28936 4-10 Grassmarket, including former church and fragment of Flodden Wall.
RCAHMS 1951, AN INVENTORY OF THE ANCIENT AND HISTORICAL MONUMENTS OF THE CITY OF EDINBURGH WITH THE THIRTEENTH REPORT OF THE COMMISSION, Edinburgh, HMSO, lxii-lxvi & 120-1, No. 59.
Reed D & Lawson J 2001, FLODDEN WALL 1999-2001 (SCHEDULED ANCIENT MONUMENT 3012): ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION & BUILDING RECORDING INTERIM DATA/STRUCTURE REPORT, unpublished.
Simpson A T, Stevenson S and Holmes N 1981, HISTORIC EDINBURGH CANONGATE & LEITH: THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS OF DEVELOPMENT, 38-9.
Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.
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