Basic Site Details

Name: City Observatory, boundary wall and Playfair Monument, Calton Hill
City or county: Edinburgh
Country: Scotland
Grid ref:

Building Type Classification

The building is classified under the following categories:
 ClassificationOriginal classification?Notes
Item 1 of 1Observatory  

Street Addresses

The following street addresses are associated with this building:
 AddressMain entrance?Notes
Item 1 of 1Calton HillYes 


The following date-based events are associated with this building:
 FromToEvent typeNotes
Item 1 of 51813 Plans drawn upPlans by Stark.
Item 2 of 51818 Build/constructionOriginal building.
Item 3 of 51825 Build/constructionBoundary wall and Playfair Monument.
Item 4 of 518951898 Repairs and alterations
Item 5 of 51984 * ProposedThe site is chosen as the focus for events to celebtrate the 150th anniversary of the RIBA by the Edinburgh Architect's Association. The proposals include setting up a camera lucida with film cameras within the observatory between June and September. Edinburgh City Council agreed to contribute 47,000 to the project, with 3000 being provided in 1983 for camera and TV equipment.

* earliest date known from documented sources.


Design and Construction

The following individuals or organisations have carried out design/construction work. Where architects or practices worked together, matching letters appear beside their names in the Partnership Group column.
 NameRolePartnership GroupFromToNotes
Item 1 of 5William Stark CBefore 1813 Drew up designs for Observatory. Lord Elgin remarks on Stark's 'beautiful designs for an Observatory on Calton Hill'. It may have influenced Playfair's executed design.
Item 2 of 5William Henry Playfair A1818 Original building. Also boundary wall and Playfair Monument.
Item 3 of 5William Henry Playfair B1825 Boudary wall and Playfair Monument.
Item 4 of 5Robert Morham  18951898Interior overhauled
Item 5 of 5John Lamb Paterson  19831984Commissioned by the Edinburgh Architect's Association for the proposed Camera Lucida project to the City Dome in 1984 for the RIBA's 150th anniversary celebrations.


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this building:
Item 1 of 2Colvin, Howard2008A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840 London: YUP. 4th edition 
Item 2 of 2Gifford, John, McWilliam, Colin and Walker, David M1984Edinburgh (The Buildings of Scotland) Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltdp436

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this building:
 SourceArchive nameSource catalogue no.Notes
Item 1 of 4Edinburgh University LibraryPlans45 
Item 2 of 4Historic Environment ScotlandListed Buildings Register27603 
Item 3 of 4National Library of ScotlandManuscript CollectionMS 578, f.163Letter of 24 October 1813 written by Lord Elgin.
Item 4 of 4Personal Post-War Archive (held at ECA)Miles Glendinning Edin Misc Articles, Post 1975, non-hsg
The Calton Conference, 5th November 1983
"The Calton Conference; National Shrine, City Park and Outstanding Vantage Point: Does Edinburgh Make the Most of this National Asset?"
Opening remarks by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Rt. Hon. Tom Morgan, C.B.E. first page.