Makars' Court

Makars' Court is a courtyard in central Edinburgh, Scotland. It forms part of Lady Stair's Close, which connects the Lawnmarket with The Mound to the north, and is next to the Writers' Museum. Described as an "evolving national literary monument",[1] the courtyard incorporates quotations from Scottish literature inscribed onto paving slabs. The quotations represent works in the languages used by Scots past and present: Gaelic, Scots, English, and Latin.

Makars' Court


The Scots language term makar denotes an author or writer,[2] though stressing their role as a "skilled and versatile worker in the craft of writing".[3] Since 2002 the city of Edinburgh has appointed its own official Makar.[3]

In 1997, twelve Scottish writers were selected by the Saltire Society, and quotations from their works were inscribed on stone slabs installed in the area adjacent to the museum. The first was unveiled by Ronald Harwood, then president of International PEN, and the rest by poet Iain Crichton Smith. Further inscriptions continue to be added to the Court.[4]

List of makars commemoratedEdit

Makar Image Language Quotation Work quoted Date of work
J. K. Annand Scots "Sing it aince for pleisure / Sing it twice for joy" 1970
John Barbour   Scots "Fredome is a noble thing" The Brus 1375
James Boswell English "I rattled down the High Street in high elevation of spirits" London Journal 1762
James Bridie English "Who knows the heart of a man and what moves in that darkness?" Susannah and the Elders 1937
George Mackay Brown English "In the fire of images / Gladly I put my hand" "Hamnavoe" 1959
John Buchan English "We can only repay our debt to the past by putting the future in debt to us" An Address to the people of Canada on the Coronation of George VI 1937
George Buchanan Latin "Populo enim jus est ut imperium cui velit deferat"
(For it is right that the people confer power on whom they please)
De Iure Regni apud Scottos 1579
Robert Burns Scots "Man to man the world o'er / Shall brithers be for a that" "Is There for Honest Poverty" 1795
Helen Cruickshank English "the spirit endures for ever" "Spring in the Mearns" 1935
David Daiches English "Bridge-building is my vocation" Natural Light: Portraits of Scottish Writers 1985
Gavin Douglas[5] Scots "mak it braid and plane / Kepand na sudron bot our awyn langage" Eneados 1513
William Dunbar Scots "The flesche is brukle, the Feynd is sle / Timor Mortis conturbat me" Lament for the Makars 1505
Dorothy Dunnett   English "Where are the links of the chain... joining us to the past?" Checkmate 1975
Robert Fergusson Scots "Auld Reikie, wale o ilka town" "Auld Reikie"
James Allan Ford English "Sing out the silence, fill for ever and ever the emptiness" A Statue for a Public Place 1965
John Galt Scots "birr and smeddum" Annals of the Parish 1821
Robert Garioch Scots "in simmer, whan aa sorts foregether / in Embro to the ploy" "Embro to the Ploy" 1977
Neil M. Gunn English "Knowledge is high in the head... but the salmon of wisdom swims deep" The Green Isle of the Great Deep 1944
Robert Henryson Scots "Blissed be sempill lyfe withoutin dreid" The Moral Fabillis 1480s
Violet Jacob Scots "There's muckle lyin yont the Tay that's mair to me nor life" Flemington 1911
David Lyndsay Scots "Lat us haif the bukis necessare / To commoun weill" Ane Dialog betuix Experience and Ane Courteour 1554
Fionn MacColla English "my roots in the soil of Alba" The Albannach 1932
Hugh MacDiarmid Scots "Drums in the Walligate, pipes in the air / The wallopin' thistle is ill to bear" A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle 1926
Sorley MacLean Gaelic "nan robh againn Alba shaor / Alba co-shinte ri ar gaol"
(If we had Scotland free / Scotland equal to our love)
"Am Boilseabhach"
Robert McLellan Scots "The pouer to bigg a braw warld in his brain / Marks man the only craitur that can greit" The Carlin Moth 1947
Lachlan Mor MacMhuirich Gaelic "A Chlanna Cuinn cuimhnichibh / Cruas an àm na h-iorghaile"
(O Children of Conn, remember / Hardihood in time of battle)
Harlaw Brosnachadh 1411
Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross   Scots "Though tyrants threat, though Lyons rage and rore

Defy them all, and feare not to win out"

Ane Godlie Dreame 1603
Naomi Mitchison English "Go back far enough and all humankind are cousins" Early in Orcadia 1987
Neil Munro English "And yet, and yet, this New Road will some day be the Old Road, too" The New Road 1914
Tom Scott Scots "Weird hou men maun aye be makin war / Insteid o things they need" Brand the Builder 1975
Sir Walter Scott   English "This is my own, my native land!" "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" 1805
Nan Shepherd   English "Its a grand thing to get leave to live" The Quarry Wood 1928
Sydney Goodsir Smith Scots "Bards hae sung o lesser luves than I o thee / Oh my great follie and my granderie" Under the Eildon Tree 1948
Iain Crichton Smith Gaelic and English "Let our three-voiced country sing in a new world" "The Beginning of a New Song" 1999
Muriel Spark English "The Transfiguration of the Commonplace" The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie 1961
Robert Louis Stevenson English "There are no stars so lovely as Edinburgh street lamps" The Silverado Squatters 1883
Nigel Tranter English "You intend to bide here? To be sure. Can you think of anywhere better?" Columba 1987
Douglas Young Scots "He was eident, he was blye, in Scotland's cause" "For Willie Soutar" 1943


  1. ^ "Makar's Court". Edinburgh Museums and Galleries. Archived from the original on 9 April 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Makar, Makkar". Dictionary of the Scots Language. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Edinburgh's Makars". Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature. Archived from the original on 28 December 2008. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Makars' Court: A literary celebration in stone" (PDF). Edinburgh Museums and Galleries. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 April 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  5. ^ "Gavin Douglas to be commemorated at Makars Court hall of fame". City of Edinburgh Council. 20 August 2013.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 55°56′59″N 3°11′36″W / 55.94968°N 3.19345°W / 55.94968; -3.19345