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Grassmarket, Edinburgh

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Grassmarket, Edinburgh About 1860

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
This photograph shows the north side of the Grassmarket in Edinburgh’s Old Town. For centuries, this wide street was the main approach from the west into the heart of the Old Town and was used by Lothian farmers to sell livestock and other products. Until the eighteenth century, it was also the site of public hangings, and the faint figure of a moving cart gives the scene a somewhat ghostly appearance. In this image, Clark deliberately contrasts the plain façades of the Grassmarket’s buildings with the gothic steeple of the Tolbooth Church on Castlehill, now known as ‘The Hub’. Although nowadays the Grassmarket is famous for its pubs and restaurants, at the time most buildings were occupied by small businesses and shops, such as the ‘victual dealer’ or grocer.

Glossary Open


The external face of a building, usually referring to the most important, such as that facing the street or containing the main entrance.


The art and architectural style that dominated Western Europe during the medieval period. Its buildings are characterised by pointed arches, strong vertical lines and elaborate window structures. The style was widely revived in the 19th century.

Façade, Gothic


  • Acc. No. PGP R 121
  • Medium Albumen print
  • Size 25.60 x 21.00 cm
  • Credit Gift of Mrs. Riddell in memory of Peter Fletcher Riddell, 1985