List of closes on the Royal Mile

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Part of a model showing the layout of closes off the Royal Mile Model of High Street closes.jpg
Part of a model showing the layout of closes off the Royal Mile
Anchor Close Anchor Close.jpg
Anchor Close

The Old Town of Edinburgh, Scotland, consisted originally of the main street, now known as the Royal Mile, and the small alleyways and courtyards that led off it to the north and south. These were usually named after a memorable occupant of one of the apartments reached by the common entrance, or a trade plied by one or more residents. Generically such an alleyway is termed a close /ˈkls/ , a Scots term for alleyway, although it may be individually named close, entry, court, or wynd. A close is private property, hence gated and closed to the public, whereas a wynd is an open thoroughfare, usually wide enough for a horse and cart [ citation needed ]. Most slope steeply down from the Royal Mile creating the impression of a herring-bone pattern formed by the main street and side streets when viewed on a map. Many have steps and long flights of stairs.


Because of the need for security within its town walls against English attacks in past wars, Edinburgh experienced a pronounced density in housing. Closes tend to be narrow with tall buildings on both sides, giving them a canyon-like appearance and atmosphere.

The Royal Mile comprises five linear, conjoined streets: Castle Hill; Lawnmarket; High Street; Canongate and Abbey Strand. Closes are listed below from west to east, divided between the south and north sides of the street.

This list names closes currently in existence. Since the Council encourages recreation of closes in new developments the list is not static. New buildings traditionally incorporate the name of the close that historically existed on the same site.


Semple's Close off Castlehill Sempill's Close.JPG
Semple's Close off Castlehill

Castlehill forms the western end of the Royal Mile, running from the Castle Esplanade to the junction of Johnston Terrace.




Fisher's Close off the Lawnmarket Fisher's Close.JPG
Fisher's Close off the Lawnmarket

The Lawnmarket is the section between Johnstone Terrace and George IV Bridge/Bank Street.



High Street

The High Street runs from St Giles Street to St Mary's Street, the location of the Netherbow Port, and the limit of the pre-19th century burgh of Edinburgh.

Borthwick's Close off the High Street Borthwick's Close.JPG
Borthwick's Close off the High Street
The surface of Marlin's Wynd, one of the suppressed closes of the Royal Mile. It was concealed when built over and rediscovered after excavation in 1974 Marlin's Wynd under the Tron Kirk.JPG
The surface of Marlin's Wynd, one of the suppressed closes of the Royal Mile. It was concealed when built over and rediscovered after excavation in 1974
Head of Advocates Close in the High Street Advocates Close in Edinburgh.jpg
Head of Advocates Close in the High Street
Anchor Close in twilight. Anchor-close.jpg
Anchor Close in twilight.


Trunk's Close off the High Street Trunk's Close.JPG
Trunk's Close off the High Street



The Canongate is the section from St Mary's Street to the foot of the Royal Mile, and connects to Abbey Strand at Holyrood, which ran through the former Burgh of Canongate.

Bakehouse Close off the Canongate Bakehouse Close.JPG
Bakehouse Close off the Canongate


White Horse Close off the Canongate, named after the inn from which the Edinburgh-London stagecoach departed. The spacious courtyard allowed the coach to turn. White Horse Close.JPG
White Horse Close off the Canongate, named after the inn from which the Edinburgh-London stagecoach departed. The spacious courtyard allowed the coach to turn.


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