EDINBURGH EXPERT WALKING TOURS - BLOG
Here it is, the final part of my blog series highlighting 20 hidden gems and small details of Edinburgh, things that you are only likely to find by actively seeking them out!
All my tours try to steer you away from some of the more crowded, busy tourist trails, to give you an experience of the city that is different from the thousands of people who only hit the highlights. Especially in the height of summer, escaping the crowds and finding your own path in Edinburgh crucial, so whether you take a tour with me or just go exploring by yourselves, I hope you've been inspired to look beyond the Royal Mile and the queue to get tickets for Edinburgh Castle.
Previous entries in the series can be viewed here: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6
19. A place of healing
In the eighteenth century, a group of children playing alongside the stream between Stockbridge and the Dean Village, discovered a spring bursting from the ground. Unlike the notoriously polluted Water of Leith itself, this spring was clean and fresh and pure, and when local people investigated they discovered it was coming from an underground aquifer. This supply of water was intensely mineral rich, and so a well house was built around it with a pump to bring the water up from deep under ground.
St Bernard's Well, as it was named, became a popular attraction for the wealthy citizens of the eighteenth century. At a time when only those with money had the means to travel, visiting mineral wells became a popular way of spending leisure time, and like the holy wells in Holyrood Park before it, St Bernard's Well is conceivably Edinburgh's earliest purpose-built visitor attraction.
A nearby street was originally named Mineral Street, and provided accommodation to travellers coming to take the water, and although the pathway past the well is relatively quiet today - although popular with local people walking their dogs or cycling - this quiet suburb of the city would have been busy with visitors back in the 1780s.
The well house that is visible today was designed by the classical landscape artist Alexander Nasmyth, and draws on the classical Grecian style. At the centre of the rotunda is a statue of the Greek goddess Hygeia, known as the goddess of hygiene and cleanliness, at the the very top of the structure look out for the golden pineapple, a popular symbol of wealth and status in the Georgian era.
20. An American icon
My final detail of Edinburgh is one which is always popular with visitors, and can be found in the Old Calton Burial Ground. Standing just in front of the grave of the philosopher David Hume is a statue of Abraham Lincoln - and it may seem a rather unusual place to find a statue of an American president!
In fact, it was not only the first statue of an American president outside of the US when it was erected in the 1890s, but to this day it is the only American Civil War memorial outside of North America.
Five Edinburgh men were among the many Scots who fought alongside Lincoln in the American Civil War - like the Irish, the Scots not only had a sense of connection to America, but were also often employed as mercenary forces in conflicts across the globe. After their deaths the bodies of these men were returned to Edinburgh for burial, and one of their wives made an application to the US ambassador to Scotland at the time to request a memorial to commemorate their sacrifice.
Legend has it that the ambassador was resistant to the idea until his wife took up the cause on behalf of the widows of the men who had died in battle, and it was with her support that a memorial to the men was erected over the grave. By extension it commemorates all the Scots-American casualties of that conflict.
Although it was the figure of Lincoln who attracted attention at the time the memorial was unveiled, in recent years it has been the figure at the base of the monument, representing the emancipated slaves, who has become the feature of interest: the figure is represented holding a book in his left hand, a subtle (and ingenious) way of indicating that slaves were not just objects of property, but educated and literate people with their own internal worlds and lives - a pretty forward-thinking representation for the late nineteenth-century...
I try to celebrate some of Edinburgh's notable and significant figures on my tours of the city, but sometimes it's hard to put a positive spin on historical events... The story of Burke and Hare is a popular one with many of the companies who specialise in tales of death and suffering, and I occasionally tell it too - even if these men were not exactly heroes, they left their mark on the city and ought to be noted if not exactly celebrated!
First of all, Williams Burke and Hare often described as grave robbers, and whilst it's not for me to try to paint them in a more positive light, in their defence they never robbed a grave in their lives. What they ought be described as is serial killers, who sought to profit from a curious set of circumstances in which, as Walter Scott put it:
"a wretch who is not worth
The context to the story is that Edinburgh's medical school was one of Europe's foremost centres of investigation for the study of the human body, study done chiefly through anatomical dissections of bodies of people who had died in the workhouses, in the prisons and hospitals, or at the end of the executioner's rope. Such was the reputation of the university that by the nineteenth century their demand for cadavers outpaced the supply, and the university had started offering cash for the provision of corpses for their medical students.
Donating the body of a loved one saved on the cost of a burial (which could be prohibitively expensive) and could earn the family donating it up to £10 in cash. At a time when £14 per year was considered a good salary for a domestic servant, and with many of Edinburgh's residents were living in destitution, this cash incentive had led to the rise of body snatchers stealing corpses from the graveyards in order to turn a profit. In places like Greyfriars Kirkyard you can find the mortsafes developed to help protect bodies from being dug up.
Hence Burke and Hare's inaccurate reputation as grave robbers. In reality, having both worked as labourers on the Union Canal, built to connect Glasgow and Edinburgh between 1817 and 1822, neither of these men wanted to do any more digging. Instead they went straight to source for their supply of fresh meat.
Their first victim was a resident at William Hare's lodging house on Tanner's Close, a lane long since lost which ran off the West Port, at the western end of the Grassmarket. An old soldier who had been staying with Hare and his wife died in his sleep in November 1827, owing the couple £3 in rent. Instead of allowing the body to be given a burial, Hare suggested they take it to the medical school, and see if they could claw back the money owed to them. To their delight, the university paid £7 for the old soldier's corpse, and suddenly William Hare was £4 up on the deal...
Over the next year Burke and Hare would go on to murder 16 people, in order to sell their bodies to the medical school. The victims were quite diverse in profile, a combination of men and women, both visitors to the city and local people, at least one child, and ranging in age from 12 years to old age.
The typical method of killing that they utilised was to lure their victims with the offer of alcohol, get them drunk enough to subdue them, and then suffocate them using a method which became known as 'Burking' - one of the men would kneel astride the victim's chest, restricting their movement and pinning their arms to their sides, while the other put a hand over the nose and mouth to cut off the air supply. The bodies would then be transported in a barrel or a chest to the medical school, where they would exchange the body for cash.
Their last victim was killed on 31 October 1828, and following a brief police investigation, both Burke and Hare and their respective wives were arrested four days later.
William Hare agreed to turn kings evidence against his friend William Burke, providing testimony that would convict him in exchange for leniency in his own case. He could not be compelled to provide evidence against his own wife, so instead it was William Burke and his wife Helen who stood trial for one single murder - the only death for which it was felt they had sufficient evidence available to secure a conviction - and the case came to trial at the Parliament House on Christmas Eve 1828.
The Scottish legal system at that time held that once a case was started, it should continue without interruption until a verdict is given, and so the Burke murder trial ran through Christmas Eve, and into the early hours of Christmas Day. Witnesses - including James Braidwood, who had established the world's first fire service, provided little in the way of what we would think of as forensic evidence, but nevertheless at 8.30am on Christmas Day the jury retired to consider its verdict, returning less than an hour later to pronounce William Burke guilty, but find his wife not proven of any involvement in the murder.
Burke's sentence was to be publicly hanged, and thereafter for his body to be donated to the medical school for dissection - a peculiarly apt form of poetic justice, perhaps!
And so it was that on 28 January 1829, William Burke was hanged on the square outside St Giles' Cathedral, attracting a crowd in excess of 25,000 people. Thereafter his corpse was taken to the medical school at the Old College, where it was dissected by the head of the university's anatomy school, Professor Alexander Monro. Burke's skeleton was kept and preserved as an anatomical teaching aid, and can be viewed today at the Surgeons' Hall Museum.
Barely three years later the passing of the Anatomy Act of 1832 formalised the process by which bodies could be provided for anatomical dissection, and made it illegal for cash payments to be made for medical donations.
As the incentive to dig up bodies had now been removed, the epidemic of grave robbings came to an end, and Edinburgh's graveyards once again became places where loved ones could rest in peace.
Find out more about Edinburgh heroes (and antiheroes...) with my private city walking tours!
I always say that there is more to Edinburgh than a guide book could show you, and most of it is hiding in plain view, just waiting for you to find it! There's no secret to it really, you just have to go looking, and be a bit more adventurous than just walking down the Royal Mile...
Going beyond the beaten track of the tourist trail rewards visitors, and that's what I try to do with my tours. This series highlights some of the smaller details of Edinburgh beyond the headline attractions.
Other parts can be found here: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6 | part 7
16. Cannonball House
Standing at the top of the Royal Mile, the last building on the left as you walk to Edinburgh Castle is called Cannonball House, and today houses a bar and restaurant offering unparalleled views of the castle esplanade. But the building gets its name from the two cannonballs stuck into its western-facing wall - look for them on the side on the building facing the castle.
Some guides will tell you these were fired from the castle on an invading Jacobite army in the eighteenth century - in fact they have a more interesting (if less romantic) origin.
In 1624 Edinburgh was granted an act of parliament to commission the supply of fresh water into the city for the first time. The water was brought from the hills to the south, via network of wooden pipes - hollowed tree trunks - across the landscape into the city.
The building across from Cannonball House was a water tank, and the cannonballs were put into the wall as level markers, indicating the height of the springs in the south, from which the engineers could calculate how high to construct their water tank to get maximum benefit of the water pressure.
17. Birthplace of a revolutionary
Scotland and Ireland have a long history of shared Celtic traditions and origins, and in the nineteenth century many Irish migrants settled in Edinburgh in pursuit of a better life than they had experienced in rural Ireland - the area of the Cowgate in particular became known as 'Little Ireland' due to the large number of immigrant families who settled there.
By the 1860s the Cowgate was an overcrowded slum, and it was in the shadow of George IV Bridge that a young boy named James Connolly was born to an Irish family, in June 1868.
Seeking a life beyond the slums of Edinburgh, Connolly enlisted with the British Army at the age of 14 (having lied about his age) and was deployed with the troops to Ireland, before deserting to avoid being sent over to India.
Back in Scotland, Connolly became involved in politics, campaigning for the Scottish Socialist Party, which in turn became restyled as the Irish Socialist Republican Party, and he returned to Ireland to spread the socialist cause in 1910. He later established himself as leader of a republican paramilitary troop called the Irish Citizen Army and was involved in leading those opposing British rule of Ireland in the Easter Rising on the streets of Dublin in 1916.
Connolly was injured in the conflict with the combined forces of the British Army and the Royal Irish Constabulary, and in the aftermath of the uprising - in which over 480 people were killed and many more injured - many of the rebel Irish leaders were executed by firing squad. Because of the injuries he sustained, Connolly was unable to stand to face the firing squad, so instead was tied to a chair and shot where he sat on 12 May 1916.
Connolly is commemorated in memorials and statues across Ireland (and the US) and has a railway station in Dublin named for him. A small plaque high up on the Cowgate in Edinburgh marks the approximate site of his birth.
18. The next big thing...
Walk through Bristo Square, at the heart of the university of Edinburgh's city centre collection of buildings, and you'd be forgiven for not spotting the largest public art commission to be installed in the Old Town.
Running across the square, and set into the stones at your feet, are a series of 1600 small bronze dots, looking a little as though somebody has dripped paint across the square. This is a work by artist Susan Collis, entitled 'The Next Big Thing... is a Series of Little Things', and it leads right up to the doors of the McEwan Hall, where university celebrates its graduating students.
Collis's work typically toys with people's expectations of art, and with this commission she subverts the typical experience of a statue becoming invisible in its setting because of its familiarity - something that is seen every day eventually stops being visible because it becomes part of the background of the city.
Her bronze dots in the ground, in contrast, will become more visible over time, as the movement of people walking through the square and scuffing and buffing the metal with their feet means that over time they will become shinier, and so more noticeable...
So remember to look up and look down as you explore the city of Edinburgh - there are details and secrets to be found at every level!
Explore more of the city's hidden gems with my private walking tours!
I have recently had cause to engage directly with the legacy of one of Edinburgh's local heroes, a man born in the Old Town, buried in the New Town, and standing as one of the great pioneers of his age. William Dick established Scotland's first veterinary school in Edinburgh, which continues to operate today as part of the University of Edinburgh.
Dick was born on White Horse Close, a picturesque alley just off the Royal Mile near Holyrood Palace. I often bring groups into this lane because of its instagram-friendly appeal, but in 1793 when young William was born it would have been less pretty and more a run-down slum area - but it was an area that had long held a connection with horses, with legends of Mary Queen of Scots' horse being stabled here, as well as being the site of a major inn serving visitors arriving into Edinburgh from the horse drawn coaches in the seventeenth century.
Dick's father was a farrier - horse shoe making - and so horses would have been a significant presence in the boy's life, and growing up in an environment where animals were such a feature was certainly an influence on William's later veterinary pursuits.
In 1815 the Dick family moved to accommodation in the New Town, just off St Andrew Square, and he was schooled in Shakespeare Square, which no longer survives but was near where the northern end of North Bridge is today. He began to take anatomy lessons, and would later fuse his interest in horses with his medical studies, travelling to London to study as a veterinary surgeon.
Returning to Edinburgh, Dick set up his own veterinary college, training others in treatment of disease in farm animals and livestock, horses and dogs. Having provided students with a certified qualification in "the veterinary art", Dick's reputation grew and his college gradually expanded, until Queen Victoria appointed him as her royal veterinarian in 1842.
Dick died in 1866, and was buried in Edinburgh's Old Calton Burial Ground, just a short distance away from White Horse Close where he was born, and overlooking the bottom end of the Old Town.
William Dick's veterinary college was officially renamed the Royal (Dick) Veterinary College in 1902, and moved into purpose-built buildings near the Meadows on the south side of the city in 1916. Those buildings today are the Summerhall complex of art studios, performance spaces, bars and brewery, and in recent years have become a haven for a variety of cultural interests in the city.
The door still has an original brass plate noting the buildings as the premises of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.
In 1951 the Dick Vet became part of the University of Edinburgh, who still operate their veterinary training and medical hospital for animals under the Royal Dick banner. Their main campus is a little distance from the city centre, where they have a variety of world-class and state of the art facilities for treating and caring for sick and injured animals.
It was here that I brought my co-guide Monty on Hogmanay 2019 for an emergency spinal operation after he lost the use of his back legs. At the time of writing, Monty is well on the way to making a full recovery, and that is in large part to the care, professionalism and dedication of the Royal Dick staff.
Explore more of Edinburgh's local heroes on my private city walking tours!
On my walking tours of Edinburgh I try to show visitors some of the less familiar sights of the city, to explore areas away from the beaten track of the tourist trail - for every castle and palace there are a hundred smaller details that many people never take the time to look at.
This blog series is my way of introducing visitors to some of the hidden gems and city secrets of Edinburgh that we might encounter on a tour, alongside the popular features that every tourist takes photos of!
You can find other parts of this series here: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6 | part 7
13. A military muster point
On the road out of Edinburgh to the south, between the suburbs of Bruntsfield and Morningside, stands a small sandstone monument erected on the wall outside a former church building.
This is the bore stone, reputed to have stood at the point nearby where James IV of Scotland mustered his troops before marching south to invade northern England in 1513. This was a momentous battle in Scottish history. As well as being a historic defeat for the Scots - James IV became the last British monarch to die on a battlefield - it led to the city of Edinburgh constructing its second defensive wall to protect itself from any potential reprisals by the English.
The Battle of Flodden remains the worst defeat that the Scots ever suffered at the hands of the English, and a big part of that statistic was simply down to the incredible numbers of men that James IV recruited to fight. Thousands of soldiers - many of them just boys - were enlisted from all across Scotland, and they all amassed on the southern outskirts of Edinburgh ahead of their march south.
The bore stone on Morningside Road has a small hole running through it in which, it is alleged, a flag would have been mounted. From this point many thousands of men were walked to their death at Flodden, and today the stone serves as a sombre reminder of the cost of such conflicts.
14. The Magdalen Chapel
Standing on the Cowgate, between the Grassmarket and George IV Bridge, is a small building that has survived over 450 years of city development, religious uprisings and political turmoils.
The Magdalen Chapel was built as a small Catholic chapel in the 1540s, around the time of the birth of Mary Queen of Scots. It is believed that Mary's mother, Mary of Guise, led prayer sessions at the chapel during her time in the city in the sixteenth century, and the building survived one of the greatest periods of social change at the time of the Reformation in Scotland, in 1560.
When Scotland changed from being a Catholic to a Protestant country, many churches and chapels were attacked by mobs seeking to destroy the Catholic iconography and the elements of worship which were now against the beliefs of the Protestant church - in particular the high decorations, the paintings, statues and stained glass of the Catholic churches, which stood in opposition to the new Protestant church's more earthy form of religious celebration.
It is amazing the Magdalen Chapel survived at all, having been built by a man called Michael MacQueen as a form of Catholic indulgence, a way of helping atone for sins in order to secure his place in heaven. These indulgences, seen by the Protestant church as buying favour with God, were specifically abolished during the Reformation.
Today the Magdalen Chapel has the only surviving, intact, pre-Reformation stained glass windows in the whole of Scotland. They are on the back wall of the building and are each about the size of a large dinner plate. They're not visible from the street, but the chapel is open regularly for visitors to explore its small interior.
15. Birthplace of a great communicator
Visitors often spend little time in the New Town of Edinburgh - the name, perhaps, is a little off-putting. But this whole side of the city has origins going back to the 1760s, and before it became the commercial area that is apparent today, the New Town was an extremely high-status, wealthy residential district.
Look above and behind the shop fronts today and you can still see many of the original house structures, and a number of the buildings were formerly home to significant figures from history - my New Town fixed-route tour can showcase some of this area's fascinating and often overlooked history.
On Charlotte Square are a number of houses with lofty associations, and number 14 South Charlotte Street in particular was the birthplace of Alexander Graham Bell, the Scottish inventor credited with inventing the telephone.
Scotland has long been recognised as the home of a great many inventors, innovators and technological visionaries, and Bell stands among them as a figure who helped to revolutionise communication between people in a way that continues to affect and influence society today.
It is a little strange to think of the father of the modern telephone walking the streets of the New Town as a young boy, seeing the same views and buildings that visitors can see today...
Find more of Edinburgh's less familiar historical features with my private city walking tours!
Probably the most visited grave in Edinburgh's graveyards - aside from those ordinary folk, like Thomas Riddell, whose graves have been co-opted by Harry Potter Inc. - is that of Greyfriars Bobby, one the city's best-known local heroes.
Bobby, of course, wasn't a person, but a dog. (Edinburgh notoriously has more statues of dogs than women...) And 14 January every year is commemorated as the date in 1872 when he died and was buried in the graveyard of the Greyfriars kirk.
The legend of Bobby has it that he belonged to a man called John Gray, a night watchman in Edinburgh, who patrolled the Old Town every night with his dog for company. When John Gray died, he was buried in the Greyfriars kirkyard, and the story then goes that his dog Bobby spent every night for the next 14 years sleeping on his master's grave...
It's a lovely romantic story, and one which was made into a film by Walt Disney in the 1960s. The story has also become a staple of children's stories, with many book versions reprinted over the years. But, as with most things in Edinburgh, the reality behind the myth is rather less romantic!
After John Gray's death in 1858, Bobby effectively became a stray dog - without an owner to pay for a licence for him, he was liable to being rounded up along with the other stray beasts of the city, and drowned in the Water of Leith river.
However, he had started loitering the graveyard, territory which would have been familiar to him from his nighttime patrols. But it may not have been his affection for his master so much as his appetite that led him to stay here - all the bars and inns at the boundary of the graveyard would empty waste out of their windows, providing Bobby (and other strays) with a regular, and plentiful, supply of food to scavenge from.
The Victorians were as obsessed with animals as we are - if they could have shared photos on social media, of dogs in top hats or cats on bicycles, the way we do today, they would have been doing it! And so the story of Bobby started to spread, and visitors began travelling into Edinburgh just to look for the dog in the graveyard.
The lord mayor - or provost - of Edinburgh around that time was William Chambers, who realised the appeal of Bobby, and sought to capitalise upon it. If people were coming to Edinburgh specifically to find the dog, they would be likely to spend money in the city's markets and bars. So he bought a licence for Bobby 'in perpetuity', which meant it would last forever, along with a collar and bowl for him to drink from.
Of course, dogs don't live forever, and the natural lifespan of the Skye terrier is between 8 and 10 years. If we assume Bobby was two years old when his master died, after 14 years of sleeping on his master's grave he would be 16 - twice the natural lifespan of the breed, and as a virtual stray!
It is now considered that there may actually have been as many as four dogs throughout that period, making sure there was always one in the graveyard for visitors to meet - and realising they couldn't keep the story going forever, when one of the dogs died he was given the honour of being buried at the very front of the church.
But visitors continue to seek out Bobby, and often there's a crowd gathered at his grave and around the statue of him mounted on the street just outside the graveyard. (In recent years visitors have started rubbing the nose of the statue for luck, causing huge amounts of damage to the figure. So please don't. It's not lucky. Especially not for the council who pays thousands of pounds each year repairing the damage done by visitors...)
As well as the grave and the statue, look out for Bobby's bowl, collar and licence, which are on display at the Museum of Edinburgh on the Canongate.
Explore more of the realities behind the myths of Edinburgh with my fact-based Edinburgh history walking tours!
Continuing my efforts to showcase some of the smaller details and hidden features of Edinburgh, to encourage visitors to look beyond the tourist trail attractions of the city and get a wider overview of its history and culture.
As all the features of the last entry could be found in the New Town, this time I'm choosing three Old Town gems to highlight - and these can all be found in the Canongate area of the city...
You can find other parts of this series here: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6 | part 7
10. A town centre
Traditionally, Scottish towns which were granted royal permission to hold a market - requiring payments of tax - would mark their right to do so with a structure called a mercat cross. These devices stood in the centre of the towns and would effectively act as gathering points for traders and visitors to the market.
Mercat crosses can be found right across Scotland, typically eight-sided structures with a central pillar, at the top of which can often be found a cross or an emblem of a unicorn - Scotland's national animal.
Edinburgh's mercat cross is a major landmark on the Royal Mile, outside St Giles' Cathedral, and gives its name to one of the city's biggest tour companies.
A smaller cross can be found just a short distance away, in the graveyard of the Canongate Kirk. This is Canongate's mercat cross, dating back to the twelfth century, when King David I of Scotland granted Holyrood abbey the right to establish a settlement on the land between the abbey and Edinburgh. Canongate, as the town was originally called, remained under separate governance and jurisdiction from Edinburgh right up until it was formally integrated with the city in the 1850s.
And so Canongate's mercat cross, less spectacular than Edinburgh's, is an authentic reminder of this area's independence and historic separation.
11. A secret garden
The burgh of Canongate was, for a long time, a more high status, wealthier town than Edinburgh. The people living on this section of the Royal Mile would have been more likely to have associations with the royal court, and being outside of Edinburgh necessity would have to pay to enter the city through the Netherbow Port. By necessity, the people living here could easily afford that charge, unlike the majority of the citizens of Edinburgh who were effectively trapped within the city walls.
One of the indicators of status and wealth was not just a larger house, but a private garden attached to it. This space would often be divided into distinct sections with their own purposes - fruits would be grown in orchard areas, herbs and fragrant flowers in another section, with perhaps a stretch of pathways with attractive borders and a separate small lawn for relaxing on. In some of the early maps of the city, these separate functions of the garden areas are indicated by different designs and imagery, and one place where the original style of gardens can still be experienced is on Dunbar's Close.
This narrow lane leads off the busy main street to a well-maintained public space that recreates the style of eighteenth-century gardens. From gravel paths and boxed hedges to a small herbaceous border with seating, and a small lawn, this is the closest visitors today can get to what would have been an exceptionally high-status feature of the historic city.
The garden is signposted off the Royal Mile, just past the Canongate Kirk.
12. A place of safety
One of the social functions of the Holyrood Abbey was as a debtors' sanctuary. Being in debt was a criminal offence for a long time, with severe punishments for failing to repay monies owed. For people who couldn't meet their obligations, a declaration of bankruptcy and the seeking of refuge with the monks at Holyrood was one way out of trouble.
At the Abbey Sanctuary, debtors were given bed and lodgings, and some meagre employment to help them earn a few pennies to be able to start paying back what they owed. The care of the abbey was so good for these people that they were known colloquially as 'abbey lairds', or abbey lords! At one time the abbey had in excess of 2,000 people under its care, and Robert Burns's father was one such person who spent time in the care of the Holyrood Abbey.
Whilst staying at the sanctuary debtors were protected from the legal authorities (and their less pleasant enforcers) of the city of Edinburgh. However, to stay protected debtors had to keep within the boundaries of the sanctuary - beyond the boundary line the abbey had no jurisdiction, and so the protection was effectively a form of house arrest. The sanctuary was a fairly significant area, however, reaching up as far as the summit of Arthur's Seat.
Part of the boundary line is still visible today, running across the Royal Mile at the Abbey Strand junction, just in front of the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Look into the roadway here and you'll see some brass letter S's set into the cobbles. These stand for 'sanctuary', and to the east of the line debtors were protected, to the west of it they were vulnerable to arrest...
Look out for these features as you explore Edinburgh, and find more with my private city walking tours!
Edinburgh Expert Walking Tours is run by Gareth, an adopted native of Edinburgh, with over 20 years experience of living and working in the city...
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