The place

Historical context

horse drinking from fountain on W Crosscauseway

Copyright: RCAHMS (Edinburgh Photographic Society Collection). Licensor

The Southside of Edinburgh is a Conservation Area lying on the edge of the World Heritage Site. Crosscauseway is a street that runs east-west and historically links two of the principal roads running south out of town, Causeyside [now Buccleuch Street] and the Pleasance. It is recorded in 1599 as having been "causeyed" [paved] — giving the street its name: "Crosscausey" meaning the cross street that is paved (later corrupted to “Crosscauseway”). The third principal route running south, Nicolson Street / South Clerk Street, was built later bisecting Crosscausey to create East Crosscauseway and West Crosscauseway.

Historic maps show the distinctive triangular shape of the space at the junction of West Crosscauseway and Buccleuch Street which still exists today. In later years a horse trough was situated in this space, emphasising its character as a "node" or meeting place.

Deepening the community's understanding

workshop research at RCAHMS

workshop research at RCAHMS

Workshop participants research the area's history during a visit to RCAHMS.
Photos: Peter Dibdin.

One important aim of the community engagment to deepen the local residents' understanding of the area's history. This research helps inform their ideas for how The Causey could be transformed in the future. Workshops include a presention and a visit to the photographic archives at The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) where the staff have been very supportive.

Historic photos of The Causey

RCAHMS 1979 photo from Buccleuch Street

Crown Copyright © RCAHMS Licensor

The Guse Dub was a spring and goose pond in the angle between West Crosscausey and Causeyside (now Buccleuch Street). Although the pond was drained in 1715, it was an established landmark before 1686, and also gave its name to the two-acre property of Goosdub or Yardhall on the east side of Buccleuch Street. Sir Walter Scott (who grew up in nearby George Square) mentions it in memories of his childhood. The watery connection continued with a horse trough on the site in the early 20th century.

RCAHMS 1979 photo of Buccleuch Street

Crown Copyright © RCAHMS Licensor

Buccleuch Street was once the first part of Causeyside. This view shows the gap left by the demolished Buccleuch Pend or Entry where Robert Burns lodged in 1784. The five-storey tenement with an arched opening facing Buccleuch Place was eventually rebuilt, including a pend, in 2000 as affordable housing.

RCAHMS photo of West Crosscauseway

© Courtesy of RCAHMS. Licensor

This tenement originally lay between Buccleuch and Greyfriars Church and Quarry Close on the site of the garden to no. 26 West Crosscauseway.

RCAHMS 1979 photo from Buccleuch Street

Crown Copyright © RCAHMS Licensor

This view of the Causey from 1979 shows the Buccleuch and Greyfriars Church flanked by the ruins of older tenements. In the background no. 26 West Crosscauseway appears as a stone faced building and to the north Pear Tree House is visible behind the predecessor to 56 North bar.

RCAHMS 1904 photo of West Crosscauseway

Copyright: RCAHMS (Edinburgh Photographic Society Collection). Licensor

West Crosscauseway (Crosscausey) looking west in 1904. The tenements on the right have been replaced by the late Victorian tenement with The Greenmantle pub on the corner. The Scots word ‘causey’ is from Old French caucie, a beaten way, and it means (as a noun) a road properly built and surfaced with metalling or pavings, or (as a verb) the making of one. It should not be confused with the English word ‘causeway’ meaning a raised roadway.

RCAHMS 1914 photo of West Crosscauseway

Copyright: RCAHMS (Edinburgh Photographic Society Collection). Licensor

West Crosscauseway (Crosscausey) originated as the link between the ancient roads to Liberton and Dalkeith. In 1599 it was ‘causeyed' (see above) and by 1661 the name Crosscausey was in use. This picture dating from 1914 shows the Church which was replaced by the University’s stationery store — now converted into flats (The Press).

All historical photos by kind permission of RCAHMS.


> See what the area looks like today

> Watch a short film about what it was like to grow up in the area