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West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Edinburgh New Town Attractions

Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The public park in the centre of Edinburgh in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. Princes Street is approximately 2 klms in length with shops on one side and gardens on the other. Before the gardens were formed a Loch (Lake) surrounded the Castle Rock. The Nor Loch stretched from under the North Bridge where the Waverley Station is now situated to the far end of the Castle Rock at Kings Stables Road. The draining of the Nor Loch was required due to the fact that it had been heavily polluted from centuries of sewage draining downhill from the Old Town. The draining of the Nor Loch began in 1759 and The Gardens were created in the 1820s. In the 1840s the railway was built in the valley, and Waverley Station opened in its present form in 1854.

West Princes Street Gardens


West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh Old Nor Loch
West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh Old Nor Loch

Old Secret Door into Edinburgh Castle

The rulers of Scotland from 1371

John Graham 1st Viscount Dundee climbed up the castle rock to meet with the Duke of Gordon, Governor of Edinburgh Castle in March 1689 and a follower of James VII. John Graham led the Jacobite army at the battle of Killiecrankie in July of 1689 and died in the battle. (see the book Kidnapped by the author Robert Louis Stevenson). Gordon’s greatest success in defeating William of Orange’s government troops in the first Jacobite uprising. The Stuarts had ruled Scotland from the 1371 under Robert II, Robert III, James I, James II, James III, James IV, James V, Mary Queen of Scots and in 1603 James VI of Scotland also became James I of England and Ireland.

Edinburgh castle rock west princes street gardens edinburg Allaboutedinburgh Princes Street Edinburgh

Then came Charles I and Charles II, then James VII of Scotland and James II of England and Ireland, Mary II and finally Anne of Great Britain and Ireland who was the last Stuart monarch. On her death in 1714, George I became king. The Treaty of Union came into effect on 1 May 1707. The Stuarts did not give up and with Bonnie Prince Charlie as a leader he would battle with the English to give the Stuart’s the monarchy back. In 1745 at the battle of Prestonpans the Jacobite’s led by Bonnie Prince Charlie defeated the English and continued on to London to regain the throne. They advanced as far as Derby before returning to Scotland with the might of the whole English army, that had returned from battles in France in pursuit and within 7 months it ended at the battle of Culloden and the final defeat of the Jacobite army and the fight for the throne of Britain for the Stuarts. 

Edinburgh castle rock west princes street gardens edinburg Allaboutedinburgh Princes Street Edinburgh

St Cuthbert's R.C. Church


St Cuthbert is believed to have founded a church by the side of the Nor Loch at the foot of the Castle Rock. It is believed a church has stood on this site since 850 AD, making it Edinburgh's oldest church building.

History mentions St. Cuthbert's church as far back as 1127. The Church steeple has been in place since 1789. The famous mathematician and inventor, John Napier is buried in the graveyard. In the graveyard are a number of famous people that help shape Edinburgh. Sir Henry Raeburn Painter, James Donaldson founder of Donaldson's School, Cathrine Sinclair author and Philanthropist main funder of the Scott Monument. 

St Cuthberts Church with Edinburgh Castl
St Cuthbert's Grave Sign Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle

Well House Tower & St Margaret’s Well

The well house and tower can be found at the foot of the Castle rock at the west end of Princes Street Gardens behind the Norwegian Boulder. There has been water supplied to the Castle from the mid 1000’s.

The tower and well-house is named after Malcolm III’s wife, Margaret, later to become Saint Margaret as in the Chapel in the Castle. The Water Tower House could have been built in the mid to late 1300’s and the well as early as 1060.

Edinburgh castle wellhouse princes street gardens edinburgh
Edinburgh castle wellhouse princes street gardens edinburgh

The inscription on the fountain reads





st margarets fountain and wellhouse princes street gardens edinburgh

History of the Woodlands and the Gardens 

The inscription on the plaque reads;
During the reign of David 1st (1124 – 1153) this area was used for tournaments, hunting and hawking. Historically it is probable that the landscape would have been dominated by Oak (Quercus robur), Birch (Betula pendula and Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) with some cherry (Prunus avium), Alder (Alnus glutinosa and Elm Ulmus glabra). The area to the east of the bridge illustrates the vegetation of the pine forests of North-East Scotland. The area to the west of the bridge is typical of the woodland which would have existed during the reign of David 1st on this type of site. In the middle of the 15th century this area was flooded to form part of the Nor Loch and serve as the northern section of the city’s defences until the mid-18th century. The area was drained 1790 – 1820 and the Gardens constructed

West Princes Street Gardens Woodlands
Woodlands  Plaque West Princes Street Gardens

Thomas Guthrie Statue

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Thomas Guthrie was the founder of the first Ragged Industrial School in Scotland in 1847. His first introduction to the idea of Ragged Schools was in 1841, when he was the Parish Minister of St. John’s Church in Edinburgh.

His first school was in Ramsay Lane and was for the poor and destitute children of Edinburgh. Thomas Guthrie died in 1873 and was buried in The Grange Cemetery Edinburgh. Ragged Schools were free education for the

poor and homeless children.

statue thomas guthrie princes street edinburgh

James Young Simpson Statue

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

James Young Simpson (7 June 1811 – 6 May 1870) discovered the anaesthetic power of chloroform and introduced anaesthesia to childbirth. Simpson was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1863. On 4th November, 1847 Simpson first used chloroform. It was first used as an anaesthetic to help ease the pain during childbirth. Queen Victoria used chloroform during the delivery of Prince Leopold in 1853. Simpson was the first man to be knighted by the Scottish Court of the Lord Lyon for services to medicine. "Victo Dolore" (pain conquered) is the inscription on Simpson’s coat of arms. Simpson died at his home in Edinburgh at the age of fifty-eight. A burial spot in Westminster Abbey was offered to his family, but they declined and instead buried Simpson closer to home in Warriston Cemetery, Edinburgh. On the day of Simpson's funeral, a Scottish holiday was declared, including the banks and stock markets, with over 100,000 citizens lining the funeral cortege on its way to the cemetery, while over 1,700 colleagues and business leaders took part in the procession itself. James Young Simpson Lived in 52 Queen Street Edinburgh for over 25 years. His first practice was at 2 Deanhaugh Street in Stockbridge across the road from where he lived with his brother at 1 Raeburn Place above his brother's bakery.

statue james young simpson princes street edinburgh

Ross Fountain

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The Ross Fountain stands in West Princes Street Gardens with a backdrop of the Edinburgh Castle. This is a well painted and photographed fountain but very few have it actually with water flowing from it.

The Ross Fountain is an ornate iron fountain from the 19th Century. Figures depicted on the fountain include mermaids and four females, depicting science, the arts, poetry, and industry. A final female figure stands at the apex of the fountain. It was displayed at The Great Exhibition in London in 1862 where it was seen by philanthropist and gun-maker Daniel Ross, who bought and donated it to the City of Edinburgh. The fountain has been in Edinburgh since 1869. It was transported to Edinburgh from London in pieces and reassembled on its arrival.

Ross Fountain Princes Street gardens edinburgh

Norwegian Memorial Boulder

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The massive boulder situated a short distance from the Ross Fountain was a gift from the Norwegian people to commemorate friendships forged during the Second World War, when large numbers of Norwegians found refuge in Scotland.

norwegian memorial bolder princes street gardens edinburgh
Norwegian Boulder West Princes Street Ga

Scots American War Memorial 

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

"The Call 1914", was erected in 1927 and shows a kilted infantryman looking towards the Castle. Behind the statue is a frieze showing queues of men answering the call by following the pipe band. The memorial was given by Scottish Americans to honour Scots who had served in the First World War. At the bottom of the frieze are lines from E. A. Mackintosh's poem

 "A Creed": " If it be life that waits I shall live forever unconquered; if death I shall die at last strong in my pride and free."

scots american war memorial princes street gardens edinburgh

Robert Louis Stevenson Stone

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The Robert Louis Stevenson Stone can be found close to the Norwegian boulder in west Princes Street Gardens. There are many memorials to Robert Louis Stevenson all around Edinburgh, his birthplace was Howard Place and he lived with his parents in Heriot Row the family home.

robert luois stevenson memorial stone princes street gardens edinburgh
Robert Louis Stevenson Stone and Trees W

Wojtec the Bear  

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Wojtec 1947 – 1963 lived in Edinburgh Zoo for 16 years.

Wojtec (little hero) the Siberian bear was adopted by the Polish free army and accompanied them wherever they were deployed. Wojtec became an official member of the Polish Free Army and became a hero at the Battle of Monte Casino in the 2nd World War in 1944. Wojtec was a Brown Bear and died at the age of 21 in Edinburgh Zoo. The memorial can be seen in West Princes Street Gardens beside the path at the Frederick Street entrance. Below the Scots Grey Cavalryman.

wojtec the bear memorial statue princes street gardens edinburgh

The Royal Scots Greys

Cavalry Regiment Memorial


West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The Equine statue can be found in West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh at the foot of Frederick Street. The Royal Scots Greys were a cavalry regiment of the British Army from 1678–1971. Part of their standard is the eagle that was taken from the French standard seized at Waterloo by Sergeant Charles Ewart. The Royal Scots Greys fought along side the Light brigade at the Battle of Waterloo on 18th June 1815. The full story is in The Royal Mile Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle Esplanade and the Royal Mile Booklet read the story of Sergeant Charles Ewart.

edinburgh castle from princes street edinburgh

The Genius of Architecture West Princes Street Gardens

This statue shows a crowned woman with two male kilted children at her feet. One, shows plans for approval whilst the other kneels to apply mortar to a pillar. It represents the crowning of the theory and practice of Art.

genius of architecture statue princes street gardens edinburgh

The Ross Bandstand

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The Ross Bandstand in West Princes Street Gardens is a venue for concerts and many other outdoor events, with a capacity to hold 2000 people. The Ross Bandstand was first built in 1877 and gifted to the city of Edinburgh by William Henry Ross. The current Ross Bandstand and terraced area was redeveloped in 1935 and is in use throughout the year and is the venue for the orchestra for the Festival fireworks displays. Basketball was also

played here in 1948, The Scottish Cup Final and 1000+ watched the Olympic Basketball team from the USA.

Ross Bandstand. West Princes Street Gardens
U.S Olympic Basketball Team

Allan Ramsay Statue

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Allan Ramsay was a trained Wigmaker and poet. The statue of Allan Ramsay is wearing a night cap, in the act of writing.  He holds a book in his left hand and a pencil in his right. He is on a pedestal decorated with portraits of Lord Murray (north side), who had the statue erected in memory of his great uncle, Mrs Ramsay his wife (west side),

General Ramsay his father (south side) and Lady Campbell and Mrs Malcolm his daughters (east side). 

For the last 15 years of his life he lived in Ramsay Lodge an octagonal house on the Castle Hill. Now in Ramsay Garden which was a later development of the Lodge House. The white house is visible on the hill behind the statue on Ramsay Garden. In 1725 he was instrumental in opening the first lending library in the High Street near to St Giles Cathedral. This was the first lending library in Britain.  Allan Ramsay Allan Ramsay was born in Lanarkshire in the west of Scotland on 15 October 1686. He died at the age of 71 on 7th January 1758 in Edinburgh.  Allan Ramsay was a pioneer in the use of the Scots Language in contemporary poetry. Allan Ramsay first came to Edinburgh at the beginning of the year 1700. Allan first job was a wig maker’s apprentice He established the Jacobite Literary Society in 1712 In his writing he used pen names which were, first Isaac Bickerstaff and then Gawin Douglas, he changed his occupation in 1721 and became a bookseller which he retired from in 1740.  He is buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Alan Ramsay West Princes Street Gardens
allan ramsay statue princes street gardens edinburgh
west princes street gardens edinburgh

Edinburgh's Floral Clock 

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The floral clock is believed to be the oldest floral clock in the world. Edinburgh's first floral clock was created on this site in 1903 and has been planted annually since. In 1905 a mechanism was added to reproduce the sound of a cuckoo, every fifteen minutes. The sound was produced by two organ bellows and organ pipes, but there was no model cuckoo to be seen. By 1950, the sound of the cuckoo had become almost drowned by the noise of nearby traffic, so a new cuckoo sound system including loudspeaker, was installed. A model cuckoo was also added which appears every fifteen minutes.

the floral clock and cuckoo in princes street gardens edinburgh
 cuckoo in princes street gardens edinburgh

The Royal Scots Memorial

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The aim of the monument is to portray in stone and bronze the history of the Regiment from its earliest beginnings to modern times. Follow the medallions around the memorial and read the inscription that runs above the medallions in a continuous panel with a dedicatory quotation taken from the famous declaration of Arbroath. "It is not for glory or riches, neither is it for honour that we fight, but it is for the sake of liberty alone, which no true man loseth, but at the cost of his own life. Given at Arbroath by the Barons, free tenants and the whole community of the Kingdom of Scotland in the year 1320." The bronze plaque on the left of the picture is the badge of the Regiment.

Royal Scot's Memorial Gardens West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh
Royal Scot's Memorial Gardens West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh










Royal Scot's Memorial Gardens West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh










Royal Scot's Memorial Gardens West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh
royal scots memorial princes street gardens edinburgh

In west Princes Street Gardens there are a number of trees that have been planted by groups commemorating history which are spread over the area near to the Ross Bandstand. Seven areas of trees and a further 15 different memorials consisting of statues stones boulder and the Ross Fountain and Ross Bandstand both should be protected as historic monuments.

The Holocaust Tree

West Princes Street Gardens

The Holocaust Tree West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The holocaust Tree planted beside the Royal Scots Memorial in West Princes Street Gardens is in memory of the 6 million Jews and all other innocent victims of the Holocaust. The Plaque at the foot of the tree reads; Planted by the children of the | Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation | in memory of the six million Jews | and all the other innocent victims | who perished in thee Holocaust | 27 January 2001 | (The first national holocaust day) | 3rd Shevat 5761.

holocaust memorial tree princes street gardens edinburgh

Belsen Commemorative Stone

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The stone laid on the 14th May 1995 is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Belsen Concentration camp by the British Army. In memory of the 6 million Jews and all other innocent victims killed by the Nazi atrocities in the 2nd World War and those who came together in the united forces to liberate Europe from fascism.

“May their suffering not have been in vain”

Belsen memorial stone princes street gardens edinburgh

Anne Frank Memorial Tree

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Planted by the Children of the | Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation | in memory of | ANNE FRANK | who died in Bergen-Belsen | in March 1945 aged 15 years. Tu B’Shevat (The Jewish New Year for Trees) 5761 | 8th February 2001

Anne Frank was born on 12th June 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany of 1933 as the leader of the Nazi Party. Anne Frank and her family moved to Amsterdam to escape the anti-Semitic feelings the Nazi party promoted. In 1940 the Germans invaded Holland and on the 6th July Anne Frank and her family went into hiding. 4 years of Hiding without going outside Anne Frank and her family were found by the German Police on the 4th August 1944. After a short time in the Westerbork transit camp on the 3rd September 1944 they were transferred to Auschwitz concentration camp. Anne Frank her sister and mother were treated as slaves. Anne had her hair shaved of and was tattooed with an identity number.  Anne and her sister were separated from their mother and sent to Belsen Camp. That is where Anne Frank and her sister died. Anne Frank was 15 years old. They were buried in a mass grave.

For more on Anne Frank see Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.

Ann Frank Tree Memorial West Princes Str

The golden jubilee Tree

The golden jubilee of the national association of round tables of Great Britain and northern Ireland. For the people of Edinburgh to commemorate Tree Time in Craigmillar 1991

Jubilee Trees West Princes Street Garden
Golden Jubilee Round Tables of Great Britain

International Workers’ Memorial Day Tree

International Workers’ Memorial Day a day of mourning takes place annually around the world on 28th April.  A day of remembrance for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work.

International Workers Day Tree
International Workers Day Tree

Tree Time in Craigmillar 1991

For the people of Edinburgh to commemorate Tree Time in Craigmillar 1991

Time Tree Craigmillar
Tree Time Craigmillar Plaque

Royal Scots 350th Anniversary Trees

This Norway Maple was present by The Royal Scots Regiment in 1963 to commemorate

the 350th anniversary of the raising of the regiment.

Royal Scots Memorial Tree West Princes S
Royal Scots Tree West Princes Street Gar

West Princes Street Gardens Railway Footbridge

Access to the south side of the rail lines. Edinburgh Castle Water Tower and St Margaret’s Well

is by the bridge behind the Ross Bandstand.

Bridge over rail lines to Castle Water Tower and St Margaret's Fountain
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