The Meadows and Bruntsfield Links Edinburgh

The Meadows Edinburgh

The area of the Meadows was originally a Loch. Around 1740, the Borough (Burgh) Loch was drained as the were no requirements for the water supplied by the Loch as it had been one of the main water supplies for the City of Edinburgh. Once the Loch was drained The Meadows were laid out as parkland, with narrow drainage canals, a summer house, tree-lined walks and avenues. On several occasions the area has been threatened with development but it is still laid out in the original design. The East Meadows was the site of the first Edinburgh football derby between the Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian football clubs on Christmas Day 1875 which became an annual event. In the distance you can see Arthur Seat and Salisbury Crags.

The East Meadows where the first sport was Archery.

Over time the Meadows have provided the people of Edinburgh the opportunity to a full range of activities. From football, bowling, tennis, cricket, golf, croquet, American football, baseball, touch rugby, quoiting, archery and even target practice for the Royal Company of Archers whose halls are close by in Buccleuch Street.  There have been concerts and the fun fare is an annual event. Everyone can use the Meadows as it is a public park. The Meadows are today designated as a Millennium Park, which together with the adjacent Bruntsfield Links where there is the oldest recorded short hole golf course. This can be used by all. In 1987 a one mile runner’s loop was marked out see below. The Meadows provide 36 acres of green belt in the city. Today the Meadows have changed little since they were laid out in the 1700’s. The meadows were originally a loch that provided drinking water to the people of Edinburgh.


The Meadows Pillars

Sir Thomas Hope, of Rankeillor, 8th Baronet in the early to mid-1700s drained and cultivated a marsh in the south side of Edinburgh known as the Meadows previously the Borough Loch which was the supply of water for the people of Edinburgh into what we have today, tree lined walkways and open fields. Sir Thomas Hope died in 1771. The pillars that stand at each end of the road which runs from east to west through the meadows was opened 1859 by the then lord provost Sir John Melville writer to the signet (solicitor) and was named after him, Melville Drive. There are pillars that can be found at the three entrances to the Meadows. At Meadow Walk the pillars were erected in 1850. At the East end of Melville Drive the pillars were erected in 1881 and topped with a Lion and the Unicorn. At the West end of Melville Drive the pillars were erected 1886 and topped with 7 foot high Unicorns. The Meadows are protected by the Edinburgh Improvement Act of 1827 which stops anyone building houses on the land area. In 1886, the International Exhibition of Industry, Science and Art was held in the Meadows, which gave it recognition around the world.


 Meadows Pillars North  Meadows Pillars North  Meadows Pillars West Meadows Pillars West  Lion Pillar Meadows East Gate Unicorn Pillar East Meadows    

 Jawbone Walk 

The Whale’s Jawbone which can be seen at the start of Jawbone Walk across from Meadow Place at the foot of Marchmont Road. The whale’s jawbone came from Shetland for the Zetland and Fair Isle Knitting Stand and was presented to the people of Edinburgh at the International Exhibition of 1886. (Pictured 2012). 

  Jawbone Meadows Edinburgh Gift from Zetland and Fair Isle Knitting Stand Edinburgh Exhibition 1886  Gift from Zetland and Fair Isle Knitting Stand Edinburgh Exhibition 1886

Memorial Fountain to Helen Aquorff was a blind musician known as ( Sister Cathedral) 1889″. This was erected by members of the I.O.C.T and other friends. The letters I.O.C.T. Independent Order of Good Templars. Can be found beside the site of the Jawbone at the start of Jawbone Walk at Marchmont beside the cricket pavillion. 

The Meadows Exhibition Edinburgh 

The great International Exhibition of Industry, Science and Art was held in the West Meadows during the summer of 1886. Edinburgh and its Meadows site were given worldwide recognition. In the West Meadows an important piece of sculpture commemorating the opening of the Exhibition is still present .The Prince Albert Sundial is an octagonal pillar with a bronze armillary sphere which acts as a sundial. At the top of the pillar are shields with the Coronet of Prince Albert, The Arms of the Marquis of Lothian, The cipher of the Lord Provost, The Edinburgh city Coat of Arms and the Scottish Coat of Arms. 

 Prince Albert Sundial West Meadows Edinburgh   Prince Albert Sundial West Meadows Edinburgh 

The Meadows Mile Race Track

SRI CHINMOY is a spiritual teacher who dedicated his life in the service of humanity. In his 43 years in the West, he endeavoured to inspire and serve mankind with his soulful offerings – his prayers and meditations, literary, musical and artistic works. Sri Chinmoy Athletic Club UK. Our well established summer race series takes place on a flat accurately measured one mile loop around the Meadows in Edinburgh and are for mid-week speed sessions or an opportunity to try a 1 or 2 mile race.  All standards are welcome and the emphasis is very much on taking part and having fun! Sri Chinmoy, the founder of the club encouraged physical fitness as a means to self-transcendence and self-improvement. For more information about Sri Chinmoy go to

Sri Chinmoy One Mile Loop Meadows Edinburgh  FOOTBALL BANNED

The Royal Company of Archers has had its base in Edinburgh at Archers’ Hall Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh since 1777. 100 yards from the East Meadows. The Royal Company of Archers is a ceremonial unit that serves as the Sovereign’s Bodyguard in Scotland, a role it has performed since 1822. The Archer’s would have tournaments in the Meadows where they would regularly practice. In 1424 by the act of the Scottish Parliament the game of football was prohibited for the more necessary science of archery.

 East Meadows Middle Meadow walk tree lined separates east and west Meadows areas  West Meadows Edinburgh

Bruntsfield Links Edinburgh

Bruntsfield Links is where the first golf was played before 1380 The first buildings next to the links course were built circa 1376. The Burghers were instituted in 1735 now known as Royal Burgess the Oldest Golf Cub in the world. The Rhind Stone pictured below is of two Burghers golfers with their caddies on the Bruntsfield Links.  When overcrowding of the golf course became a problem the Burghers (Burgess) moved to Musselburgh in 1874 and then made a final move to their present home in Barnton where they had a golf course designed by Tom Morris which opened in May of 1895. It was 1929 when King George V by royal proclamation allowing the Burgess to change name to The Royal Burgess Golfing Society as it is today.

Bruntsfield Links Golf Course Edinburgh

The Royal Burgess Golfing Society Edinburgh playing where they started at Bruntsfield Links circa 1720

Ye old Golf Tavern (1456) Edinburgh

The first known Club House in the world.  Wright’s House next to Bruntsfield Links, established in 1456, is still where golfers can get clubs to play golf over the Links at Bruntsfield. There were a number of societies that played at the Links, The Burghers instituted 1735 (Royal Burgess), The Bruntsfield instituted 1761, The Allied Golfing Club instituted 1856, The St. Leonards instituted 1857, The Warrender instituted 1858 and The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers instituted 1744 who had the original 13 rules of golf written down. The rules were for the open championship at Leith links in 1744.

Ye old Golf Tavern Bruntsfield Links Edinburgh

Barclay Church  Bruntsfield Links

In 1858 a Miss Mary Barclay of 7 Carlton Terrace died, leaving over £10,000 for the erection of a Free Church. The Church was built circa 1863 and named after Miss Barclay and the streets around the church also took their names from Miss Barclay. The first service took place in the new Barclay Church in December of 1864.  The First minister of the new Barclay Church was James Hood Wilson who remained until his death in 1906. In the church there is a bible in a glass case and its history is; The Bible is known as the ‘Vinegar Bible’ because of the misprint referring to the Parable of the Vineyard as the Parable of the Vinegar. The Church spire can be seen from a great distance as it is 230 foot high.

Barclay Church Edinburgh

Link to Summerhall

Link to Lauriston Place