Hadrian’s Wall

Our last class trip, how time does fly. We took the train down to Carlisle and then a bus to three different places to learn more about the wall. We first went to Vindolanda which is located a mile to the south of Hadrian’s wall, which still shows a roman fort and civil settlement next to it. Since the 1970s there have been ongoing excavations at the site, they have found wooden tablets at the site which shows the ordinary lives of the soldiers and citizens. At the museum they have some replica buildings, mile stone and kiln. While having lunch we got to see lots of birds including swallows, blue tits and robins.

We then went to another fort Vercovicium, otherwise known as housesteads. It is pearched high on the ridge and was an addition to the wall in the second plan for the frontier. The remains that are visible today are the hospital, commanding officers house , the headquarters building, granaries, barracks and store room.these remains are from different periods, showing how the fort was used through the years. From the fort you can access the wall and walk along part of it.

The last port of call along the wall was the Roman Army museum. they have a 3D film about the life of a solider on the frontier and a lesson in Latin. Very good for children to learn about the Romans, for the adults the only interesting part other than the film is pulling back the string of the bow to see if you would join the Syrian Archers.




The big university trip to Germany. Had a brilliant time away, did a lot in a few days.

We flew out to Munich on the 20th April, flew out at dinner time so by the time we got to the hostel in Munich we just had a quick free drink then bed.

The next day we had a whirlwind tour around Munich and finding out about the restoration after the war, talking about buildings the Nazi’s commissioned and the monuments to the war. We started our tour at the plaster cast museum which is in a former Nazi HQ. One of the plaster casts I had seen in Rome at the Villa (See earlier post).

We then walked to the art museum, Alte Pinakothek. It is the oldest art museum and houses a collection covering 14th- 18th Century works. King Ludwig I of Bavaria (1825–1848) ordered Leo von Klenze to erect a new building for the gallery for the Wittelsbach collection in 1826. The museum building was severely damaged by bombing in World War II but was reconstructed and reopened to the public in the late 1950s. You can see where the damage to the building occurred with the brick infills.

We then walked to the Triumphal arch siegestor, near the university and up the street from the residenzmuseum. Then passing the frauenkirche to go to the Hofbrauhaus, which is a beer hall that was established in 1589. It is where the NSDAP were founded in the 1920s. On the way back to the hostel we stopped at the Asamkirke. It is a fantastic German Rococo masterpiece, it is a narrow church but it is very ornate and a must see. We left Munich at about 3pm to get the train to Nuremberg.

The trains in Germany are amazingly quick, quiet and so clean.

We had a quick tour of Nuremberg before dinner. On Saturday 22nd April we went around five museums in Nuremberg. We visited the Art Bunker, stadt-museum fembohaus ( located in the oldest building in Nuremberg, it survived the bombing in WWII.), Durer haus museum, Nuremberg trials museum and the Nazi rally grounds with the documentation center. It was a packed day but definitely a good way of seeing the museums for a very good price. Nuremberg is thought of as the best preserved medieval town of Bavaria however it was heavily destroyed during WWII. Unlike Munich you can clearly see the Altstadt or old town in Nuremberg as all the old city walls can be seen.


On Sunday the 23rd April, some of us decided to visit Nuremberg imperial castle. There is a video there that shows the history of the castle and how badly destroyed it was by the bombing. What you see today has largely been restored. From the tower you get excellent views of the Altstadt and the well in the well house is 50 feet deep.

On the 24th April, Monday, we went to Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, another picturesque medieval German town. Rothenburg held a special significance for Nazi ideologists. For them, it was the epitome of the German ‘Home Town’, representing all that was quintessentially German. Throughout the 1930s, the Nazi organisation KDF (Kraft durch Freude) “Strength through Joy” organized regular day trips to Rothenburg from all across the reich. This initiative was staunchly supported by Rothenburg’s citizenry – many of whom were sympathetic to National Socialism – both for its perceived economic benefits and because Rothenburg was hailed as “the most German of German towns”. It was a beautiful day when we visited and the views from the tower at the town hall were amazing.

Tuesday 25th was our trip to Bamberg, a large part of the town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. Compared with the Nuremberg, Bamberg has more authentic medieval building surviving. This is because it wasn’t heavily bombed in WWII. Bamberg is made up of three areas, the ecclesiastical area, merchant area and the garden area. The garden area is were the vegetables were grown and sold. while we were there we were taken around by the professor from our sister conservation program and she focus on the university’s conservation policy. One interesting thing she mentioned was that all the facades of the buildings have to remain the same but inside they can be transformed and decoration covered unless its the original decoration.

On our return to Nuremberg after visiting Bamberg I went back to Munich to spend an extra day in Germany before returning home. My last day was a very wet one but I didn’t mind as I went to the residenzmuseum and spent over two hours there. It is so large and opulent, and it is the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs of the House of Wittelsbach. The palace was severely damaged by bombing during World War II. Most of its rooms were reconstructed by the 1980s. Some of the buildings, however, were rebuilt in a simplified manner. Examples of this are the facade of the Alte Residenz on Residenzstrasse or the Arcades in front of the former throne hall on the first floor of the Festsaalbau. A substantial loss was caused by the destruction of the neo-classical rooms and halls in the Festssalbau (including the Grand Throne Hall, now the Hercules Concert Hall), of the rich décor of the Papal Rooms and of the apartment of King Ludwig II (1864-1886). The frescoes of the Court Church of All Saints were also completely destroyed.

Germany is a brilliant place to visit, i shall be returning but visiting Berlin next time.


St Cecilia’s Hall

Just before the reopening of the redeveloped St Cecilia’s Hall for Edinburgh University. We got to see the work that Page\Park had done to make the building function as an instruments museum.

Originally opened in 1763 and named after the patron saint of music, St Cecilia’s Hall is the oldest purpose-built concert hall in Scotland, and the second oldest in the British Isles. At the heart of this Georgian building is its concert room, surrounded by three galleries that house one of the world’s most important collections of historic musical instruments, many of which are still playable in a concert setting. Yet time, architectural intervention and urban development have hidden away this exceptional Georgian treasure and the rare collections it contains.


Page\Park have made good use of the historic built fabric, have improved the acoustics in the concert hall and have created lots of spaces within alcoves to create display cases for the instruments.

The entrance to the extension they have built is in the shape of a harpsichord. they have used the pattern from one of the harpsichords throughout the building and the shape to create a balcony in the extension.

Orkney Trip

My recent trip was up to Orkney for coursework. The journey up was long, first was a train up to Inverness then a bus to Scrabster and a ferry to Stromness, then finally a bus to Kirkwall. The reason we had to go to Kirkwall is for our urban conservation module, we were split into groups to survey a character area within Kirkwall. My group was given the character area, Laverock. This area encompasses  Victoria street, its closes and Main street.

View down Victoria Street.JPG

We travelled up on Monday and left on Friday. As well as surveying throughout the week we also went to a few historic sites. On Tuesday we visited Skara brae, Maeshowe and the broch of Gurness. Skara brae is a neolithic site that is wonderfully preserved, and is located near to a beach so it has had to be protected with a barrier.

Maeshowe is an ancient cairned tomb in the neolithic heart of Orkney. The site is near to three standing stone circles, only two of which have standing stones. The largest of these circles is the ring of brodgar. From Maeshowe you can see the ring of brodgar, stones of Stenness, the watchman stone and the ness of brodgar dig site.

We then went on to the broch of Gurness. It was constructed in the iron age it used to sit by its own and then a village was built around it. It continued to be used until the 9th century and we know this as there is a grave of a viking woman.

On Friday we visited Stromness to go see the Ness battery, since we left very early we were able to see the sun rise as we walked to the battery. The battery had been constructed in WWII but had guns placed there since the Napoleonic wars. They are currently clearing out the WWII magazine stores for people to visit, they had recently restored the original barracks with a mess house.

The trip was fun but getting home was not. We went on the ferry from Kirkwall to Aberdeen overnight and then a train from Aberdeen to Edinburgh. The ferry was rough and I did not get much sleep but  the trip was good. Now to write a report and create Qgis maps from the data collected.

Glasgow walking tour

Hi guys, today was a very fast paced day. We first visited Taransay Redevelopment, to get there we took the subway from Queen st station.

On the way from Govan station to the street we passed by many tenements and the Lyceum theater. Across the street from the redevelopment, that was all internal, was a pub with a funny pro-claimers joke.

After a little talk we went straight back to the subway to go quickly see Walmer Crescent at Cressnock. The subway station is under the building so it was a very quick visit so we had time to go see the Gorbles redevelopment afterwards.

After our quick “pop-up” visit we went on to the Gorbles. We went through Laurieston- Gorbles redevelopment area, the Hutchesontown-Gorbles areas, A,B,C,D and E, area E is also known as the Crown street redevelopment area. We stopped at St Francis Church which is now a community center that page\park did work on. There are wooden partitions that protect the alters throughout the church as it is now a community center.

After this visit, we had a little lunch at a near by swim center cafe. After that we walked to the city chambers building on George square. Here are some pictures of buildings on the way there.

The city chambers building is amazing. It is so decadent with its decoration of marble, mosaics, smoke stain glass, murals and lots of different types of wood paneling.The building started construction in 1883 and completed four years later. Queen Victoria visited and performed the inauguration ceremony and so there is a glass pane in the banqueting hall to commemorate the occasion. The murals in the banqueting hall tell the story of Glasgow, from its city charter being granted to stories of the city and the four principal rivers of Scotland. We also got to see the council chamber its self, and the protective Lion which if you rub his nose will give you good luck.

Our tour ended at the St Vincent street church, here are some of my pictures on the way there.

Today was a good day, very fast paced but very informative.

Durham World Heritage Site

Hello Everyone,

I know its been awhile since my last blog post but I have been busy with University work and this is the latest trip. Today we traveled down to Durham to visit the Castle and Cathedral which are part of the World Heritage site.


I found the castle to be amazing. The site has been in continued use since 1072 and became part of Durham University in 1837 as student accommodation. It is still student accommodation till this day with all the mod cons, the hall is still used at meals and the 15th century kitchen is still used as a kitchen today.

Construction of the Castle began in 1072 under the orders of William the Conquer, six years after the Norman conquest of England, and soon after the Normans first came to the North. The construction took place under the supervision of the Earl of Northumberland, Waltheof, until he rebelled against William and was executed in 1076. The castle then came under the control of the Bishop of Durham, Walcher, who purchased the earldom and thus became the first of the Prince-Bishops of Durham. It was under Walcher that many of the Castle’s first buildings were constructed. As was typical of Norman castles, it consisted of a motte (mound) and an inner and outer bailey (fenced or walled area). Whether the motte and inner bailey were built first is unknown. The kitchen and buttery date from the end of the fifteenth century, from the time of Bishop Fox (Bishop of Durham, 1494-1501). A Norman window under one of the fireplaces is an indication that Fox did not actually build an entirely new structure, but remodelled an older Norman construction, perhaps a defensive tower. The term “buttery”, the area before the kitchen, comes from the French word “boterie”, which was originally a place where wine was stored. This became a common term for a larder, but has no direct connection with the making or storage of butter.

There are two chapels in the castle, the Norman chapel and the Tunstall Chapel. The Norman Chapel is among Durham Castle’s most important spaces and, constructed around 1080, the city’s oldest building. Although it has been sometimes taken for the under-croft, (the space under a church or chapel) rather than the chapel itself, close reading of the sources suggests that this was probably the main chapel and not a crypt or utilitarian space associated with it. The chapel features an unusual array of carvings, some thought to depict religious scenes and values, others being simply decorative. The chapel has survived remarkably well for a building of its age. Perhaps the most surprising thing about it is that it has survived practically intact – religious spaces such as this, being very important, were often remodeled to reflect changes in fashion. The Chapel probably owes its survival to the fact that it was rendered inaccessible in the 14th century when Bishop Hatfield enlarged the Castle keep, saving this Norman structure from substantial medieval and post-medieval alterations. For more information on the carvings and a 3D panorama visit here to find the links  https://www.durhamworldheritagesite.com/architecture/castle/intro/north-range/norman-chapel 

The Tunstall chapel was constructed by Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall in 1540. The Tunstall Chapel was completed during the first days of the Reformation – the break-away from the Roman Catholic Church and a turning point in English history. This religious transformation, which was to prove permanent and extremely significant, is best represented in the portrait of Cuthbert Tunstall himself that still hangs in the chapel today. Tunstall’s fists are clenched, but he is holding nothing in them – originally, he was depicted holding a rosary, which was painted over after the Reformation because it was a symbol of Catholicism. Through out the years there has been additions to the chapel and during one of these additions the fonte was covered as it was no longer needed.


When the new chapel was added a long gallery was added at the same time with a large staircase at one end. The stone arch is from the first hall that was constructed in the Norman building phase.

Across from the castle is the Cathedral Which houses the shrine to St Cuthbert, the cathedral was started in 1093. The present cathedral replaced the 10th century “White Church”, built as part of a monastic foundation to house the shrine of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. The treasures of Durham Cathedral include relics of St Cuthbert, the head of St Oswald of Northumbria and the remains of the Venerable Bede. In addition, its Library contains one of the most complete sets of early printed books in England, the pre-Dissolution monastic accounts, and three copies of the Magna Carta. Durham Cathedral occupies a strategic position on a promontory high above the River Wear. From 1080 until the 19th century the bishopric enjoyed the powers of a Bishop Palatine, having military as well as religious leadership and power. Durham Castle was built as the residence for the Bishop of Durham. The seat of the Bishop of Durham is the fourth most significant in the Church of England hierarchy, and he stands at the right hand of the monarch at coronations. Signposts for the modern day County Durham are subtitled “Land of the Prince Bishops.” There are daily Church of England services at the cathedral, with the Durham Cathedral Choir singing daily except Mondays and when the choir is on holiday. The cathedral is a major tourist attraction within the region, the central tower of 217 feet (66 m) giving views of Durham and the surrounding area.

The building is notable for the ribbed vault of the nave roof, with pointed transverse arches supported on relatively slender composite piers alternated with massive drum columns, and flying buttresses or lateral abutments concealed within the triforium over the aisles. These features appear to be precursors of the Gothic architecture of Northern France a few decades later, doubtless due to the Norman stonemasons responsible, although the building is considered Romanesque overall. The skilled use of the pointed arch and ribbed vault made it possible to cover far more elaborate and complicated ground plans than before. Buttressing made it possible to build taller buildings and open up the intervening wall spaces to create larger windows. Saint Cuthbert’s tomb lies at the east in the Feretory and was once an elaborate monument of cream marble and gold. It remains a place of pilgrimage. Just outside the shop area, in one of the buildings off the courtyard, there is a Lego model of the Cathedral. You are not allowed to take any pictures inside the cathedral so i’m glad they had a Lego model so you can see at least a part of it as the model is very accurate.

We also wandered around the town that leads up to the World Heritage site, We were not told anything about the town but it is very picturesque. I also found one of the cafes window to be very strange and interesting.

Overall I enjoyed the trip to Durham, it was very cold but at least the sun was out to perfectly show off this interesting and very much still in use Heritage site.

Burntisland and Dunfermline trip

Todays trip was to Burntisland and then we went to Dunfermline as well.

Burntisland had been little more than a fishing village belonging to the Abbots of Dunfermline until in 1540 James V began improvement of the harbour and in the following year the town was granted burgh status. Merchant trade began to flourish, and in 1587 Burntisland was admitted to the Convention of Royal Burghs. By 1700 the customs returns for Burntisland showed that the main import was Norwegian timber, while exports included salted fish, linen and coarse cloth, salt and coal. The original ‘town’ consisted of no more than the High Street leading to the harbour. A new parish church in the centre of the town was begun in 1589, a tolbooth was erected in 1605 and in 1636 a gateway was constructed into the town from the main landward approach. In 1651 the town surrendered to Cromwell’s army and a fort and town wall were constructed thereafter. Little evidence of either remained by the late 18th century. Burntisland served as the northern station of the ferry across the Forth to Granton until the opening of the Forth Rail Bridge and extension of the railway in 1890. In 1876 the West Dock opened and in 1901 the East Dock opened. Up until this time the town consisted of the High Street, Quality Street and Back Street (now known as Somerville Street) leading to the Parish Church. The railway and ancillary buildings occupied the area between the built portion and the sea, with the railway line from Kirkcaldy terminating at the Harbour.

Just before we got the train to dunfermline I went into the mean green sandwich machine to get a haggis roll. While there the owner told me that the shop used to be a china shop and that next door was a tea room. He has pictures dating from the 19th century showing the china shop and the cross that was across the road. The cross is no longer there but there is a circle on the road to show where it was.

We then went on to Dunfermline and walked about the conservation area, but we spent most time at the abbey and palace.

After marrying Malcolm III in an earlier church in 1070, Queen Margaret invited a group of Benedictine monks from Canterbury to set up Scotland’s first Benedictine monastic community at Dunfermline. This priory was extended and developed by her son, David I as a tribute to her and became an abbey after 1128. The church was consecrated in 1150 and a century later was extended to include a shrine to the newly canonised St Margaret. Supported financially by the Crown, the Benedictine monks at Dunfermline carried out their daily round of prayer and the works of god in peace until the arrival of Edward I’s invading forces in 1303. He took over the abbey and used it as his winter base; when he left he destroyed the monks’ domestic buildings though left the abbey church untouched. Rebuilding began at once, aided by Robert the Bruce. Construction work continued for another 250 years but monastic life was already in decline by the time of the Reformation in 1560. In the early days of the Reformation, much of the abbey was sacked. By 1570, however, work had begun to remodel the abbey church as a new parish church; it was re-roofed and the ancient church walls were shored up with massive flying buttresses. The abbey guesthouse had long been a royal residence but in the 1590s major rebuilding work began. Queen Anna, wife of James VI was the driving force behind this; her son, Charles I was born here. From 1603, with the union of the crowns, however, the Scottish court effectively moved to England and the palace was last used by royalty in 1651 by Charles II. In 1817 work began on a new parish church. During the building, a body was discovered which was identified as that of Robert the Bruce; this timely find was celebrated by incorporating his name in the top of the new church tower. What can be seen today is a real mixture: elements of the original twelfth century church rub shoulders with nineteenth century additions; the refectory of the original cloister survives in part as does the south wall of the royal palace.

The 12th century remains of the abbey are lovely and of a romanesque style with a side door for the monks to use  and the decorated columns. The remains of the palace include the cellars, kitchen and south wall. The refectory and gate house are the rest of the remains of the abbey complex. You can see the abbot house from the abbey graveyard, it is a pink harled building which is undergoing some work. We wandered up to the high street passing the city chambers building with is amazing sculptural details.

Today was an infomative if cold day and look forward to the next trip. Till then look after yourselves and thanks for reading.



Our trip today was to the lovely country house of Newhailes. The original house was designed by James Smith in 1686. It was designed as a villa and you can still see the original size of the villa, looking at the front door the three bay windows on either side are the original size of the Villa. The front door was also on the other side and the new entrance could have been french double doors to the balcony but that is just speculation.

It was then bought in 1709 by Sir David Dalrymple and around 1750 the two wings that we can see were added. The wing on the right hand side houses the two story height library space, and on the left hand side houses the state rooms which include a drawing room, state bedroom, closet and a dining room extension. The library wing was started by Sir David Dalrymple to house his massive collection of books, which were removed to the national library to offset a tax debt of the last owners lord Mark and Lady Antonia Dalrymple. The state rooms were built for Sir David’s son to complete the paladian style house and make it symetrical. Also the windows on the right handside are fake windows, they were added as you could not have a blank wall and it was to make the building look symetrical and the windows fit in with the rest of the windows in the house.


This is the vestiblue area with its classical inspired door frames and rococco decoration. The original entrance to the house can still be seen and the views have remained unchanged since the house was built. The plasterwork was renewed in the 1970s and the national trust has not touched them since. The principal conservation approach is to conserve as found, so they have done as little to the building but enough to preserve it for future generations.


The chinese sitting room was originally the dining room in James Smith’s house. Most of the alcoves used to contain the china when it was a dining room now house part of Sir David’s collection. The shells that you see decorating the walls are scallop shells that were picked from the beach by boys that sir David payed for them. The shells continue throughout the house and seem to be the familys symbol though not officially as it is not on their coat of arms. There is painted images on the walls as shown in the last images of the slideshow have been perfectly preserved as they ended up being covered with hanging paintings which wehen removed showed the original decoration.

This is the library wing. This once held Sir David’s massive book collection which can been seen from the black and white photograph. The Portrait above the fireplace is of Sir David with his son. The fireplace is a roman marble fireplace straight from Rome. The book cases are double height with letters at the top which shows that Sir David had his collection is order and I suspect they would have been labled with its place on the shelf. The light fixtures were added later, I love the hands holding the lamps. Another common decoration is the skinned lion that is shown above the pediment around the portait.


This is the china cabinet wich one of the later Dalrymple family members added to show off the china that the family had.

This is the new dining room. The columns show were the original exterior wall of the James Smith Villa used to be. The columns were to create a screen between the dining room and the servery. The portraits around the fireplace show more members of the Dalrymple family one of whom helped to overthrow the stewart kings and replace them with George of Hanover. Again there is Rococco decoration, there is a skined lion on the fireplace and sunflowers and shells around the room. These themes are continued throughout the house and the property manager Mark McLean, who took us round, has written a paper on these recurring images and what they could possibly signify.

We now move on to the new drawing room. This room is the start of the new state rooms. again there is a lot of the same iconography that we have seen earlier on in the house. There is the added eagles at the top of the windows with funny beaks. The pier glass has a scallop shell above it and the paintings show more of the Dalrymple family. The door on the wall by the piano is a fake doorway as the state bedroom traditionally would have been through that door in other buildings but has been moved to the right as the house could not be extended beyond that wall or it would not be the same proportion as the library wing. The walls originally had chinese wallpaper covering them but were removed when they became damaged. The wallpaper can be seen in the closet off of the state bedroom.

This is the state bedroom, where the big mirror and sofa are is where the original state bed would have been with its bed hangings. The bed hangings were found by the NTS in a trunk that even the last owner didn’t know where there, so they are wonderfully preserved. The NTS created a state bed that would have been in the room with the hangings for one day so thay could show what they originally looked like on the bed. Some of the hangings can be seen in the interpretation room. There is a secret door in the room which was used by the servants to move unseen around the house. The last image shows the original chinese wallpaper and it would also have been in the drawing room.

The first image shows the original bed hangings on display upstairs. the other images show the bedrooms and the alcoves where the beds were and could be screened off during the day for intimate meetings with guests. Although the alcove in the dark bedroom was reduced to create a new corridor access to the dressing room so wardrobes were put in the alcove instead of the bed.

I throughly enjoyed my visit to Newhailes and would recomend it to everyone to go visit, it is by appointment and you are taken on a guided tour around the house. This is to help protect the house and help to conserve it. Thanks for reading and I know this is a long post but the house is so lovely and deserves a long post.

First uni trip to Stirling Castle

Well I started my masters course on Monday and so far so good. We have been looking at the history of conservation, its origins in ancient Rome with peitas through the medieval period with gothic architecture, then the romantic period and through the wars to the modern day.Through these periods the values of conservation have changed and even with the emergence of the conservation movement these values have changes but some have remaned the same throughout the centuries.

The purpose of todays trip to Stirling Castle was to see the idea of restoring a building to a certain point in time. So at Stirling it was an army barracks after the king moved to London with the union of the crowns 1603. So when the army were resident at the castle they converted the great hall, chapel and placae into smaller quarters and put in extra floors. When historic scotland, as it was known then, it is now historic environment scotland, took over they decided to restore the great hall, chapel and palace back to the renaissance period when it was built under James IV and James V.

The chapel frescos were found under the army renovations, they were in poor condition but some parts of it were complete, which made them able to create a copy of the fresco that is still on display today.

In the great hall all the army partitions were removed. Thearmy tiles on the floor were poor so new stones were laid, believe they were laid on top of the army tiles and the floor dips at the fire places. The roof was reinstated as it would have been and the walls repainted. However there are still traces of the army changes around the walls particularly near the bridge to the palace.

In the palace there were roundels with heads in them on the ceiling of the King’s inner hall, but when one fell the army decided to replace the whole ceiling. Many of the heads survived and are on display in the castle. The ones on the ceiling are replicas and the whole ceiling is what they believed to have been in place. The whole palace has wall paintings and tapastries that they believe could have been hung in the palace. The windows are interesting as the timber are from the renaissance period with the lead style windows. Then on the outside there are the 19th century army windows. This is one of the instances that they kept some of the army changes to the castle.

On the way up to the castle We stopped to look at a couple of interesting buildings like Argyll’s Lodging, the tolbooth, broad street which was the market place of the medieval town. Its interesting how little of the medieval buildings survived due to the slum clearances, the building seen today are dated from the 19th century but made to look medieval.

Thats it for todya, I will leave you with some lovely pictures and I will have another post tomorrow about the Newhailes trip.


This blog post is going to be all about the city of Edinburgh. This major city is the closest to where I live in Linlithgow. I have enjoyed many visits to Edinburgh, especially the old town and this is where my passion for history and conserving historic buildings were born. I will admit that this passion first started with the castle but as time has gone on has become more wide spread into the homes of the ordinary people and how the city has evolved throughout the years. I am glad that the city center of Edinburgh is a UNESCO world heritage site as this ensures that the history, buildings and street patterns are preserved for everyone to see from all over the world.


The castle is built on an extinct volcano so the street pattern follows the tip or the crag and proceeds down its tail like many European cities. The hilltop crag was the earliest part of the city to develop, becoming fortified and eventually developing into the current Edinburgh Castle. The rest of the city grew slowly down the tail of land from the Castle Rock. This was an easily defended spot with marshland on the south and a man-made loch, the Nor Loch (which is now Princes street gardens since it was drained), on the north. Access up the main road to the settlement was therefore restricted by means of various gates and the city walls, of which only fragmentary sections remain.


Due to the space restrictions imposed by the narrowness of the “tail”, and the advantages of living within the defensive wall, the Old Town became home to some of the world’s earliest “high rise” residential buildings. Multi-story dwellings became the norm from the 16th century onwards. Many of these buildings were destroyed in the great fire in 1824; the rebuilding of these on the original foundations led to changes in the ground level and the creation of many passages and vaults under the Old Town.A census in 1792 put the Old Town and Canongate population at around 30,000 residents, but in modern times it declined dramatically to just 4,000, and is currently around 20,000. A great site for interest is Gladstone’s Land on the royal mile on the way to the castle. This building is owned by the National Trust for Scotland and was saved from demolition in the 1950’s. It is a great example of a 16th century tenement building.

As the old town population continued to grow and overcrowding became an issue the city fathers decided to construct the new town to the north to stop a mass exodus of the rich to London. The idea to build the new town was first suggested in the late 17th century when the Duke of Albany and York, who was to be known as King James VI and II, gave the city a grant: “That, when they should have occasion to enlarge their city by purchasing ground without the town, or to build bridges or arches for the accomplishing of the same, not only were the proprietors of such lands obliged to part with the same on reasonable terms, but when in possession thereof, they are to be erected into a regality in favour of the citizens.”

A design competition was held in January 1766 to find a suitably modern layout for the new suburb. It was won by 26-year-old James Craig, who, following the natural contours of the land, proposed a simple axial grid, with a principal thoroughfare along the ridge linking two garden squares. Two other main roads were located downhill to the north and south with two minor streets between. Several mews off the minor streets provided stable lanes for the large homes. Completing the grid are three north-south cross streets. The street names are named after King George III, his Queen Charlotte and their sons, Princes street. The names were chosen to show the king that Edinburgh was a loyal city to the English king as this was after the battle of Culloden.

The first New Town was completed in 1820, with the completion of Charlotte Square. This was built to a design by Robert Adam, and was the only architecturally unified section of the New Town. You can also travel back to the Georgian age at no.7, owned by the National Trust the interiors have been restored back to their Georgian owners. Princes street became the major shopping hub and still is to this day. As the years have gone by Edinburgh has grown all the way North to the Firth of Fourth as well as South, East and West to the size it is today.

These pictures are taken from Calton hill which is a great place to see the old town and the new town.

I have talked about the major developments of the city of Edinburgh and how it has grown. I love walking the streets of Edinburgh imagining what it must of been like for the poor living in overcrowded conditions to what it must have been like to live in the rich new Georgian houses. This city is what inspired my passion for preserving our built heritage and continues to fan the flames of that passion, and will continue to do so in years to come.