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The Tron Kirk

Overview

The Tron Kirk, or Christ’s Kirk at the Tron, has stood in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town for almost 400 years.

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The Tron Kirk, or Christ’s Kirk at the Tron, has stood in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town for almost 400 years. Its towering spire can be seen across the city, and for many years this was the landmark that brought the city’s population together at Hogmanay.

The salt tron, seen in Robert Gordon’s 1647 map of Edinburgh

Built between 1636 and 1647, John Mylne’s design for the Tron was modelled on contemporary Dutch examples and boasts one of Scotland’s two surviving hammerbeam roofs. The kirk takes its name from the public weighing beam that stood outside of the building. This was an important gathering point, where goods were measured, and where minor criminals were punished. Beneath the Tron are archaeological remains of Marlin’s Wynd, the earliest paved street in Scotland.

Remnants of Marlin’s Wynd, underneath the floor of the Tron

In the late 18th century, the kirk was reduced in size and the busy warren of tenements and closes that surrounded it were demolished to make way for North and South Bridge. This connected Edinburgh’s Old Town to the recently constructed ‘New Town’. Though diminished in size, the Tron retained its prominent role in the city’s life and was the venue for the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from 1830 to 1840.

Image via SCRAN

Over the years, the Tron has withstood fire, riots, two World Wars, dry and wet rot, at least two demolition proposals and various changes in use. Although the building survives, it is in a poor state of repair and is included on the Historic Environment Scotland Buildings at Risk Register.

Edinburgh World Heritage has been granted a temporary lease of the building. Working with the City of Edinburgh Council and other partners, Edinburgh World Heritage hopes to save the Tron from further deterioration and secure the future of this nationally significant building.

Our World Heritage exhibition

A new exhibition showcasing the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, as well as Scotland’s other five World Heritage Sites, opened in July 2018 at the Tron Kirk. Our World Heritage explains what makes Edinburgh’s heritage so special and internationally recognised, as well as highlighting some of the issues associated with the World Heritage Site, through the voices and opinions of local people. Find out more.

(Top image courtesy of Jay Hogan)