The Museum of Edinburgh

(Huntly House Museum)

Museum of Edinburgh, Canongate
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Museum of Edinburgh, Canongate

Located in a 16th Century house around Bakehouse Close on the south side of the Canongate, the Museum of Edinburgh was formerly known as the Huntly House Museum. It is the city's principal museum of local history, containing Roman artefacts from archaeological excavations at Cramond alongside period rooms and objects from later times. The museum also holds important collections of Edinburgh silver and glass, including a splendid cut-glass epergne made at the Holyrood Glass Works to commemorate Queen Victoria's accession to the throne (1837). A collection of old shop signs includes that which advertised the tobacconists shop of James Gillespie (1726-97), founder of Gillespie's hospital and school. Visitors can also see the collar and feeding bowl which belonged to Greyfriars' Bobby, as well as the plaster model for his statue at the junction of Candlemaker Row and George IV Bridge.

However, this is much more than a local museum as it contains a large number of items of national importance. These include a copy of the National Covenant, signed in Greyfriar's Kirkyard in 1638, and several items belonging to Field-Marshal Douglas Haig (1861 - 1928), who commanded British forces in the First World War, together with Scottish clocks and pottery. The museum also incorporates rare late 16th Century painted beams brought from Pinkie House (Musselburgh).

Never one of the notable mansions of the Old Town, Huntly House got its name through its connection with the Duchess of Gordon. It was bought in 1647 by the Incorporation for Hammermen who, in 1671, commissioned Robert Mylne (1633 - 1710) to enlarge the house. The building was converted by the City Corporation into a museum in 1932 and the adjoining 17th Century tenement was incorporated into the museum in 1965.

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