Wardrop's Court Dragons – Edinburgh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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Wardrop's Court Dragons

A quartet of brightly colored mythical beasts stand sentry at this gateway. 


It’s only fitting that a city with a medieval castle would have several fabled creatures lurking about. Not far from this fortification’s drawbridge in Wardrop’s Court in the Lawnmarket resides a series of ornate blue dragons.

These sets of ferocious beasts facing the Royal Mile are the work of J.S. Gibson, handcrafted during the latter part of the 19th-century. The two at the back facing the open cloister of Makars Court, home to the Writer’s Museum, are the work of Arthur Geddes.

Geddes was only 16 years old when he created these metal monstrosities in 1911 with the assistance of Alec Miller. Miller was a proponent of the Arts and Crafts movement that specialized in decorative techniques. Geddes also happened to be the son of Patrick Geddes, who was a major campaigner for combining urban planning with sociology.

Wardrop’s Court leads into what was once student housing for Edinburgh University. These creative and ornate objects kept with the elder Geddes’s philosophical motto, “diagnosis before treatment.” He believed there was more to a living situation than a building that housed its inhabitants. Geddes thought all accommodations should include open spaces, light, air, and beautification.

The dragons were restored to their former glory in 2012 by various groups, including, the City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh World Heritage, Brownie Old Town Trust, and the Geddes family.

Know Before You Go

Accessible night and day.

Note that in the month of August, with the Fringe Festival takes place in this area and it can get congested. The dragons are high enough up that they are visible from any angle. Makars Court offers a nice solemn refuge from the madness beyond.

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September 23, 2020

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