The Lawnmarket represents the oldest part of Edinburgh's Old Town. It is that part of the Royal Mile which connects Castlehill to the west end of the High Street. The area developed below the castle, becoming a burgh around 1140. The name is a corruption of 'land market', that is where the produce from the hinterland of the burgh was sold. A cloth market was established here by King James III in 1477. The line of George IV Bridge and Bank Street cut through the Lawnmarket in the 1830s.

In this area are the best preserved examples of close, courtyard and 'land' developments remaining in the city. Notable are James Court, with Lady Stair's House and fronted by Gladstone's Land, Riddle's Court, which includes Baillie McMorran's House and Mylne's Court, restored by the University of Edinburgh in the late 1960s, which gives access to the Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland, and Riddle's Court.

The infamous Major Thomas Weir, who confessed to being a wizard, lived nearby in West Bow with his sister Jane, who herself was convicted of witchcraft.

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