Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


New Gardens for Old Town

Coinyie House Close in the Old Town is to have a newly designed garden celebrating its unique heritage. 

Mar 11, 2010

Once the location of the old Scottish mint, Coinye House Close is now seeing major improvements thanks to the efforts of local residents, with funding from EWH and the council. The close's overgrown garden is being re-designed, to provide new facilities and celebrate its long history.

The first project involves designing a garden space, reflecting traditional Scottish orchards, parterres and kitchen gardens. Small plots will be available for residents to grow their own vegetables and herbs, along with workshops in gardening skills such as plant identification, soils, composting, weed control and planting design.

The result will be a semi-public space similar to the original function of the close. Residents will benefit not only from the improved facilities, but also because the new garden is designed to alleviate anti-social behaviour. An interpretation project is also planned, to explain the history of Coinye House Close for visitors.

Also part of the close is Panmure St Ann’s School, and their pupils are getting involved too with a ‘Growing and Building Project’. With help from Greenworks, pupils are designing their own garden area with planters for growing vegetables and herbs, seating areas for rest, reflection and group work, a painted mural capturing the history of the place, and a sculpture that will reflect seasons of the year. There will also be scope for exercise with a basketball court.

The projects in Coinyie House Close bring back a historical use of urban space in the Old Town, inviting both public and residential use, and commemorating the unique history of the area.

The Old Scottish Mint

Before the late 15th century, Edinburgh was one of many Scottish towns where coins were minted.  It was not until 1481, under the reign of James VI, that almost all Scottish coins were minted only in Edinburgh.

The first mint in Edinburgh was located in the outer court of Holyrood Palace, but was then moved to the castle in 1559.  This was demolished during a siege in 1574, and so a new Coinyie House was built.

It was located in South Gray’s Close between the High Street and the Cowgate, and it operated through the reigns of seven monarchs from James VI to Anne.

The dominant family in the 16th century mint history was the Acheson. John Acheson is recorded as coin-master for Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1553. The other members of the family, John and Thomas Acheson, were successive masters from 1558 to 1611.

In 1682, the mint was temporarily closed because senior officials were accused for malpractice.  It restarted in 1678, but Scottish coinage came to an end under the Act of Union in 1707. The last coins struck in the Coinyie House were half-crowns and shillings dated 1709, marked with an 'E' beneath Queen Anne’s head.

Although it no longer made coins, officers of the Edinburgh Mint were still appointed until 1817. The Coinye House building was then sold and finally demolished in 1877.

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