Parliament House, Edinburgh

Parliament House, Edinburgh

Parliament House in Edinburgh, Scotland, was home to the pre-1707 Parliament of Scotland, and now houses the Supreme Courts of Scotland. It is located in the Old Town, just off the Royal Mile, beside St Giles Cathedral.

Parliament Hall

The oldest part of Parliament House is Parliament Hall, which King Charles I had built as a permanent home for the parliament. It was completed in 1639. It has a dramatic hammerbeam roof made of Scandinavian oak, which may have been designed to evoke Parliament Hall at Stirling Castle, a previous home to the Scottish court. The roof of the new Scottish Parliament building continues this tradition, and is supported by large laminated oak beams.

After the Act of Union 1707 the Parliament of Scotland was adjourned, and the building ceased to be used for its original function.


Even while the old Parliament was still in existence, parts of the buildings were used for legal cases, and afterwards this became the main function of the building. The two highest Scottish courts, the High Court of Justiciary for criminal cases and the Court of Session for civil cases, sit in the building, though the High Court of Justiciary may sit elsewhere.


The Advocates' Library was founded in 1682, and is currently located in a William Henry Playfair designed building at the south of the buildings. It remains a heavily used legal resource. As well collecting legal works it was also a deposit library, and in 1925 the non-legal books in their collection were gifted to the new National Library of Scotland, which is located adjacent to the library, on George IV Bridge.

Alongside Parliament House is The Signet Library. It is a private library, funded by members of The Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet, who are generally practising solicitors. The current building is located on the north side of the buildings. Construction began in 1810 to a design by Robert Reid, and it presents a classical front to Parliament Square. This facade wraps around Parliament House as well, and replaced the existing Scottish baronial facade.

ee also

*Scots law
*Courts of Scotland

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