Edinburgh Town – Part 1

Following on from my last post on additional troops (Regular, Militia and Volunteer) to defend Edinburgh, my current project is making a model of the City and castle, starting with the City. In 1745 it looked like this:

The castle is on the left (west) with the old town running down the ridge (now the Royal Mile) to Holyrood Palace on the right. There were almost no buildings of note north of the city until you reach the Forth.

Here is a plan of the city as it was in 1742. immediately north of the old town was the Nor Loch (North Loch) a fetid stretch of water which was an open sewer and depository for offal from the abattoirs, quite apart from a few bodies of executed criminals. The stretch immediately north of the castle was a swamp. This North Loch is now the very beautiful Princes Street Gardens.

The western half of the old town was walled, so I decided to concentrate on this. Here is a plan of the old walls. The North East corner (top right) is approximately where Waverley Station is today.

For the walls, I used my standard wall sections from my model of an Usborne Medieval Castle. I made a few extra sections, both of long (16cm) and short (8cm) walls.

Some of these 16 cm sections had gun positions which were ideal.

I had corner towers with external angles, but I needed one with internal angles, as shown on the right.

I made some corner towers with walls on only one side to give more flexibility in the layout.

There were a number of gates around the city walls, now all demolished. Most looked like this picture of Cowgate (which was the southern gate on the East wall of the city).

Here is my model of such a gate, showing both front and back. There were actually five similar gates around the Edinburgh walls, but I only made four of these since two on the southern wall were close together.

One gate was much more elaborate. This was the Netherbow Port, the main gate half way down the Royal Mile towards Holyrood. It has now been demolished but looked like this when viewed from the east (ie looking from outside to inside the walls).

I made a model of it by converting elements from my Usborne Medieval Castle and adding various other parts.

The clock is actually taken from a photo of the real clock, which survived the demolition of the original gate and was relocated onto another building in Edinburgh.

The inside of the Netherbow Port (ie looking from west to east) looked like this.

I made my model look very similar.

I had a number of Scottish houses which I had made already from Paper Terrain models. All my buildings are 15mm, one scale down from my 1:72 (23mm) plastic figures, so as to have a smaller footprint. Some were original Paper Terrain and others had been converted into typical Scottish shops, such as McDougal’s Bakers, Baxter’s Grocers, McSweeney’s Butchers and the Red Lion pub. You can see some of these here. The cobbled road is from Wordsworth Model Railways.

To supplement these I also bought a set of Paper Terrain Town Houses. These are mostly three storey, which is ideal. Here are the corner houses. There were four in the set but one was red brick, so I did not make that model. Some had French features such as awnings or balconies, which I did not use, and French shop names which I obscured.

Paper Terrain models fit over a ruined version and my older sets of Mediterranean and North European Village houses have a pattern to represent the interior of the ruins on the reverse side.

The newer Paper Terrain models, such as the Town Houses and Central European Village packs, no longer have this refinement, but like it so I printed out a sheet on plain paper of such a pattern with some separate black doors and windows shapes. I glued this ruined paper to the reverse of my new Paper Terrain Town Buildings, then cut out and matched up black doors and windows to those on the front of the ruins. You can see the effect on the ruined versions here.

Most of the town houses come with damaged removable upper floors, as shown in the house on the right of the photo. I reinforced these with a piece of stiff card. To support them the kit has card angled brackets, but I used cut off sections of wooden matchsticks, painted in a natural wood colour, as shown in the house on the left of the picture.

There are two larger town houses in the set. Here they are.

There are also four narrower tall buildings in the set, two in pairs (semi-detached) and two singles. Here they are, with a corner section of my Edinburgh wall in the background.

I think these are particularly suitable for Edinburgh buildings because they look similar to an old print of the Luckenbooth buildings, which were on the north side of the Royal Mile.

I am going to pause here, and continue in Part 2 with some models of particular buildings in Edinburgh, including the Tolbooth prison and St Giles Cathedral.

16 thoughts on “Edinburgh Town – Part 1

  1. mosstrooper7 June 30, 2021 / 10:47 am

    Oh my ! this is an ambitious project ! , but you’ve made a great start to it , I look forward to seeing further updates .


  2. rodwargaming June 30, 2021 / 12:24 pm

    Well, I am further ahead than this post appears to show, since I have already finished several of the unique buildings, but the post was getting so long that I decided to split it in two. I have already made The World’s End pub, Tolbooth Prison, St Giles Cathedral and the Weigh House. The latter was the only building to be significantly damaged during the Jacobite occupation of the city since it was the closest building to the castle, and was fired on. I already have a small church to represent Greyfriars Kirk and will finish the buildings by making a reduced scale model of Heriot’s Hospital (always actually a school).

    There will be a lot less buildings in my model than were really there, a bit like my Wargame figures where one figure represents 30 real men. Several buildings are reduced in some dimensions so that they are not too large compared to the model town.

    I have a template for the castle, which again will have buildings with reduced proportions, but have not yet started that.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Chris Lamb July 1, 2021 / 4:15 am

      Excellent. Wonderful research.


      • rodwargaming July 1, 2021 / 6:22 am

        Hi Chris,

        Glad you liked it. I enjoy the research as much as the modelling.



  3. Steve Wroblicky July 1, 2021 / 3:41 am

    Outstanding!! Thank you for sharing.


    • rodwargaming July 1, 2021 / 6:21 am

      Hi Steve,

      Glad you liked it. Part 2 will not be too long.



  4. Chris Lamb July 1, 2021 / 4:18 am

    It is 12:17 A.M. here in Toronto.
    Happy Canada Day


    • rodwargaming July 1, 2021 / 6:24 am

      Hi Chris,

      Happy Canada Day. Both my wife and I have Canadian 1st cousins. My wife also lived in Oakville Toronto for a couple of years as a teenager.



      • Chris Lamb July 1, 2021 / 7:05 am

        That’s a nice coincidence. Are you in fact in Scotland ?
        One of my friends at the University of Toronto was a Scottish nationalist, learning Gaelic and all.
        Though the Lambs emigrated from Lancashire, there are more Lambs in Scotland than anywhere else in the world.
        I, too, enjoy the research.


  5. rodwargaming July 1, 2021 / 8:12 am

    Hi Chris,

    No, I live in South East England. My father came from Scotland (Edinburgh in fact) but married my English mother, so I was born in England but am half Scots. My father was in the Merchant Navy in World War II, came to the School of Navigation near Southampton for a course to qualify him to be a Chief Officer and met my mother, who was a secretary at that school. I was born in Hampshire but we used to visit Edinburgh frequently to see the Scottish half of my family. My father’s older brother and his family emigrated to Perth in Australia. One of my father’s sisters married a French Canadian Navy Officer she met during the war and they moved to Ottawa. Typical Scottish family.

    My wife’s family originally came from Jedburgh in the borders (her family tree is full of border reiver names) but she was born in Edinburgh. Her parents moved to Southern England when she was six, so she lost her Scottish accent. Her uncle had been in the RAF in World War II and did some of his navigator training in Canada. He liked it and emigrated to Canada after the war. My wife and I met Scottish Country dancing. We discovered that we both travelled up to Edinburgh as children at least once per year to meet our families. After we got married we used to visit Edinburgh a lot, but our Scottish relatives have all died out. We still try to go to Scotland for holidays from time to time.

    Being half Scots I am interested in the Jacobite Rising/Rebellion (depending on your point of view). There are only 5 MacArthurs listed in the Jacobite Army muster roll produced by the 1745 Association. The clan was closely allied to the Campbells so I suspect most were with the Argyll Militia or in the Scottish Regiments of the British Army. Some were hereditary pipers to the MacDonalds of Sleat (in Skye) who originally stayed neutral but later raised two Highland Independent Companies to support the Government. I plan to research this some time.

    Best wishes



    • Chris Lamb July 1, 2021 / 1:53 pm

      Thanks for the wonderfully detailed reply!
      My aunt was a CWAC in the war, in Britain, and returned with a Yorkshire husband, ultimately a colonel, head of the Department of Textiles in the Dept. of National Defense in Ottawa. He played the Hammond organ, and smoked cigars.

      My father was in the Royal Canadian Artillery, mortar-spotting, Italy, France, Holland, and Germany. In gratitude for the Canadian Liberation, the Dutch send tulips every year. My father loved them. He, like many Canadians, enjoyed the experience. He collected military music records, and took us to tattoos in Washington, D.C., 90 miles from the school where he taught. I worshipped John Philip Sousa, and read what there was on playing the pipes.

      Chris Lamb.


  6. Bankinista July 1, 2021 / 12:24 pm

    Brilliant work and research. I hope you intend to “involve” the town militarily more than it was in real life. It would be a shame to have all that effort as a mere backdrop.


    • rodwargaming July 1, 2021 / 4:33 pm

      The houses and walls are all modular, so can be used in several scenarios. Many already appear in my post on Fort George at Inverness.

      Fort George – Inverness

      I will also be able to use most of them to represent the sieges of Stirling and Carlisle.



  7. CastrumtoCastle August 13, 2021 / 4:51 am

    Splendid work and exploration. I trust you plan to “include” the town militarily more than it was, in actuality. It would be a disgrace to have all that work as a simple scenery.


    • rodwargaming August 13, 2021 / 6:37 am

      I am still working on the castle itself, and then will decide what to do with it all.


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