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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Canongate is a small district at the heart of Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. The main street running through the area is called Canongate without the definite article, "the". Canongate, the street, forms the lower part of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh's historic Old Town. Until formal incorporation into Edinburgh in 1856, Canongate was a separate burgh. The easterly end of the Canongate is sometimes regarded as being in the Holyrood area of the city, with the rest being in the Old Town, rather than being considered an area in its own right.

The Canongate is named after the canons of Holyrood Abbey and the Scots word gait meaning "road".

As well as the new Scottish Parliament building, which incorporates the historic Queensberry House, the Canongate contains some other notable public buildings, including the Museum of Edinburgh and the People's Story Museum (located in the historic Canongate Tolbooth.) In 1691 the new Canongate Kirk was opened, replacing Holyrood Abbey as the parish church of the Canongate. The church is still used for Sunday services as well as weekday concerts.

The Canongate started to decline after the accession of King James VI of Scotland to the throne of England in 1603. The loss of the royal court from the Palace of Holyroodhouse inevitably had an impact of the surrounding area. This was exacerbated following the construction of Edinburgh's New Town. However the Canongate was an important district during the Scottish Enlightenment with founding of the Canongate Theatre by Lord Monboddo, David Hume and other intellectuals of that era.[1]

Walter Scott named Chronicles of the Canongate (1820s) after the area.

Modern era

The area has seen various attempts at improvements and slum-clearance, including a notable 1959 scheme by Sir Basil Spence which included some new tenement blocks integrated into the area.

By the 1970s the once overcrowded and poverty-stricken area was starting to suffer from serious depopulation. From the 1980s onwards the Canongate area become notably less industrial, with many of the breweries closing. In the 1990s and 2000s, flats and offices have been built on the former industrial land, reversing the decline in population. While much of this development has a modern appearance, it has been laid out in the "fishbone" pattern characteristic of the Royal Mile.

As of 2006, the redevelopment of the few remaining pieces of industrial land to the north of the Canongate has aroused controversy partly due to the proposal to demolish some of the 1930s replacement buildings.

Above all, the construction of the new Scottish Parliament building on the site of the old Abbey Brewery has led to a resurgence of the area's vitality. For the first time since 1603 the Canongate has again become the centre of Scottish political life.


  1. ^ Cloyd, E.L., James Burnett, Lord Monboddo (1972)

External links

Coordinates: 55°56′59″N 3°10′34″W / 55.94965°N 3.176°W / 55.94965; -3.176



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