Calton Hill

   Engraving in 'Modern Athens'  -  The New Observatory and Playfair's Monument on Calton Hill





Edinburgh Council has announced plans for restoration of two of the buildings on Calton Hill. 

With the help of cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund, 500,000 has been acquired to be spent on the following buildings.  It is proposed that,  following restoration,  they will be opened more regularly to the public:

James Craig House
(Observatory House)

This is a rubble built tower, designed by James Craig, the designer of the New Town of Edinburgh.

Observatory House was opened in 1792 and extended in the 19th century.


City Observatory

This is a classical building, designed by William Henry Playfair who also designed:

-   Donaldson's Hospital to the West of central Edinburgh

-   The National Galleries at The Mound

-   St Stephen's Church at Stockbridge

-   many other Edinburgh buildings. 

Since 1938, the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh has been based at the City Observatory.


Edinburgh Evening News  1 November 2003, p 9




Time Ball

   The Nelson Monument on Calton Hill.  The time ball being raised at 12.55pm

 Nelson Monument

Edinburgh City Council and The One o' Clock Gun Association have announced that they have applied for 15,000 of lottery funding to enable the time ball, at the top of the Nelson Monument on Calton Hill, to be restored.

History of the Time Ball

The time ball is a large white ball weighing 762 kg.  It has been signalling one o' clock in Edinburgh since 1852.

Its original purpose was to give an accurate time to sailors in the Firth of Forth, about three miles to the north of Calton Hill.

Professor Charles Piazzi Smyth, was a prominent early photographer.  He was born in Naples in 1800 and went on to become the 2nd Astronomer Royal for Scotland, a post that he held from 1846 to 1888.  He set up the time ball with the help of clockmaker Frederick James Ritchie.

The ball was originally linked to a master clock in the City Observatory, whose  time was set from observation of the stars.

Later, the time ball was linked to the One o' Clock Gun by a wire that stretched across the Waverley Valley.  The One o' Clock Gun was installed on the ramparts at Edinburgh Castle in 1861.



The ball is still raised daily at the top of the Nelson Monument  (except on Sundays and in windy weather) then lowered at 1pm.  The ball is now raised and lowered manually, using a system of pulleys and a wheel near the top of the monument, operated by an employee of James Ritchie, who is also responsible for winding several of Edinburgh's public clocks.


The time ball  suffered some damage in the recent winds so is temporarily out of action.  It is hoped that a full restoration can be carried out.


The time ball is still awaiting repair.


Most of the details above taken from Edinburgh Evening News  October 7, 2006:  p.5



Beltane Fire Festival

Photos 2006

Beltane Fire Festival

Photos 2007

Beltane Fire Festival