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Dundee's Historic Closes

Discover the Closes

Gardyne's Land at No.71 High Street - opposite its junction with Castle Street - may seem to the visitor to be an isolated (albeit renovated) medieval relic left behind in the back-lands of a largely Victorian industrial city. Certainly the late 18th and 19th century "improvements" made by the City Fathers cut through the medieval street pattern to create the streets which you see today, e.g. Reform Street, Commercial Street, Crichton Street, Whitehall Street and Crescent. These give the town centre all the appearance of a Victorian city.

There is however a great deal more to Dundee than this and the clues are there to be seen hidden away behind the city's main streets in a secret network of narrow alleys know as "wynds", "vennels" and "closes".

Some of these were the main thoroughfares and shopping streets of past times and they tell an intriguing story, evidencing a colourful history as Dundee grew from a small settlement to become 16th century Scotland's second city, linked by trading routes to the other main cities of Europe.

To help you to know more about this fascinating, unique aspect of the city, in 2005 Dundee Civic Trust (with the help of "Awards for All", a consortium of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Arts Council, Sport Scotland and the Big Lottery Fund) installed information plaques on eight of the major closes which have survived.

The introductory plaque can be found on the wall next door to No 21 Castle Street. It contains not only the above text but also two maps. One shows the pattern of closes prior to the 1858 city improvements which changed the town for all time, the other the present city centre and the location of the information plaques/history boards.

The information plaques form part of Dundee Civic Trust's ongoing project on interesting aspects of medieval Dundee and in particular the extent to which these have been - or indeed could be - absorbed into the contemporary fabric of the city.

The map above shows the present city centre and the numbers in circles show the location of the history boards. This map, together with the text on each board, is available as a pdf file - Dundee's Historic Closes [PDF-583Kb]

A pdf of the Dundee Closes Study is available on the Publications page.