Coade Stone Columns – Portobello, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Portobello, Scotland

Coade Stone Columns

It's a mystery how these curious columns wound up in an Edinburgh suburb. 

Situated along the promenade of a seaside village on the outskirts of Edinburgh are three pillars made from a malleable artificial stone called Coade, which is named after its inventor Elenor Coade. They are molded rather than carved. As the material is highly weather-resistant, the pillars practically look brand new.

Originally, the columns stood for nearly 90 years in a garden at Argyll House, on nearby Hope Lane. How these particular stones ended up in this original placement, in the early part of the 1800s, remains a bit of mystery. There is some indication that they were intended to be chimney stacks, as the designs of the lion, fleur-de-lys, crown, and rose are similar to those found at Dalmeny House near South Queensferry.

After spending several decades in storage, the pillars were moved to their current location in the mid-2000s. A team of expert stone conservators, led by Graciela Ainsworth, restored them to their current pristine condition. A local potter, Alison Robinson, created the crown tops for two of the columns.

The current location of the pillars once used to be a bandstand, then a public park, and finally a children’s wading pool. Over time, the site became run-down, so it was decided to have the area renovated.

Know Before You Go

The pillars are in a public park at the end of John Street. They're accessible 24/7.

Community Discussion