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A sixty second mini Edinburgh tour

- The High Street to St Giles

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This blog post continues from my previous blog post about me wandering around the Old Town and letting my imagination take me on my own Old Edinburgh tour. We’re going to do this ‘time-travelling tour of Edinburgh’ in two parts. In today’s blog, I’ll look at what people can see in this area today. The next post will describe a very different version of exactly the same walk. In that post, I’ll reveal how this area used to look. Hopefully, you’ll see why I walk about the Old Town imagining how it used to be! We’re going to explore the area of the Royal Mile from the eastern side of George IV Bridge to St Giles. This section takes about forty seconds to walk and, today, it features some interesting gold-coloured bricks in the ground, a plaque, a well, some strange looking cobbles, a statue and what’s quite probably Edinburgh’s most important historic church. We start our mini Edinburgh tour by crossing over George IV Bridge. Today the famous Royal Mile is broken up with various bridges and streets. George IV Bridge connected the south of the city with the New Town. The creation of George IV Bridge, Bridge Street and the Mound allowed easy access to the exciting new New Town of Edinburgh. As soon as your feet hit the pavement of the eastern side of George IV Bridge, you can make out three golden coloured bricks just next to the traffic light. There’s a small plaque explaining that this was the site of Edinburgh’s last execution. There was more than one execution which took place here. More of that in our next blog post! The last man to be hanged here wasG eorge Bryce Nicknamed the ‘Ratho Murdered’. Bryce was hanged here on 24 June, 1864. A few feet further down the ‘Mile, we pass through the anti- terrorism arches placed here recently in a bid to protect the many crowds who often gather here. Of more ‘historical’ interest to us is the old well which sits here. This was one of several which sat around the Old Town. you can see one at the bottom of the West Bow (Victoria Street). There’s another which sits in front of the Adam Smith statue on the other side of St Giles. Another well sits in front of the John Knox House and there’s one just next to Queensberry House in the Canongate. Going every day to get the water necessary for a household would have been taxing enough…and then you remember the height of some of the Old Town’s buildings. For the water caddies, serving girls or daughters of Edinburgh’s families, it would have been quite a feat to get their heavy buckets of water up the narrow little staircases and into the houses. Edinburgh’s ‘lands’ could be fearsomely high. Jacobite era ‘Fitbit’ smartwatches would have registered some pretty impressive figures! We then come to the cobbled area of Parliament Square (West). This place is often the site of displays, relatively impromptu shows and performances and Edinburgh tour groups! I know because I bring so many groups here. Right in front of us is the statue of the fifth Duke of Buccleuch. I never mention him on my tours. It’s nothing personal Duke; it’s just that there are so many other things to talk about here! Make sure you don’t spend too much time looking up at either the duke’s statue or the impressive crown steeple of St Giles because you do want to keep an eye on the ground. A rather pretty little decorative ‘heart’ shape can be seen in the paving stones here. This commemorates the Tolbooth Prison, a place Sir Walter Scott nicknamed ‘The Heart of Midlothian’ Finally, our forty second walk concludes next to the imposing bulk of St Giles. Although not religious, I do think of this building more as ‘The High Kirk of Edinburgh’ rather than ‘St Giles Cathedral’. In 1951 the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland – RCHAMS – put together a fascinating ‘Inventory of Edinburgh’. It lists some of Edinburgh’s historically significant buildings…in order of importance. Can you guess what’s at number 1? Ok, possibly ‘Edinburgh Castle’ wasn’t the trickiest answer you’ve ever come up with, but after the Castle is out the road, guessing the rest of the buildings, in order, becomes a little more taxing. St Giles comes in at number 2 on Edinburgh’s historically important building ‘hit parade’ and for good reason. St Giles has been a Catholic cathedral for much of it’s history, it was John Knox’s Church of Scotland stomping ground during the turblulent times of the ‘Lang Siege’ of Edinburgh Castle in the early 1570s and on 23rd July, 1637, it saw Jenny Geddes throw her stool (as in chair type thing…) at the Minister who was doing the King’s bidding by reading the Book of Common Prayer. Her comment of “Daur ye say Mass in my lug?” (“Dare you say the Mass in my ear?”) goes down in Edinburgh’s history as one of our townspeople’s best ‘one-liners’… So, a sixty second walk and we’ve seen traces of Edinburgh’s social past, a link to one of her grisly hangings, an oft- photographed statue, an impressive square and one of Edinburgh’s most historic and impressive buildings. That’s pretty impressive! But that’s Edinburgh, packed with things to see and pour-over. So what happens in our next blog post? Next time I’ll take you on the same route, and we’ll look at a different and far more famous hanging, a long lost street which was popular with one of Scotland’s most famous characters and we’ll look in detail at the Tolbooth building. There’s a lot more to see than the ‘Heart of Midlothian’!
You can find out more about this part of the Old Town on our Old Edinburgh walking tour. This guided tour runs most Thursdays - 10.30am-12.30pm and 2- 4pm and then the same times on Saturdays. It’s the perfect introduction to Edinburgh’s history.
Robert Howie is the sole tour guide for Historic Edinburgh Tours. He owns the company and researches and resources all our tours. He has led guided tours for more than ten years. Robert was born in Edinburgh, teaches in the local area and received his university education in one of the most historic buildings on the Royal Mile. You can learn more about Historic Edinburgh Tours by clicking here.
Your Edinburgh guide.
In which I try to justify my previous blog post about wandering around the Old Town looking at things in a rather bizarre and dreamy way. I also take you on a time-travelling Edinburgh tour. We will visit the Royal Mile, well, one tiny section of it anyway!
This view shows the eastern side of Libberton’s Wynd as the road was being demolished.
Part of the historic Royal Mile.
The three coloured setts’ which mark the site of the Libberton’s Wynd executoin spot.
Edinburgh's history can sometimes be easy to miss!
The ‘Heart of Midlothian’ mosaic just outside St Giles.
The Heart of Midlothian on the Royal Mile.
A sixty second mini Edinburgh tour - The High Street to St Giles
In which I try to justify my previous blog post about wandering around the Old Town looking at things in a rather bizarre and dreamy way. I also take you on a time-travelling Edinburgh tour. We will visit the Royal Mile, well, one tiny section of it anyway!
Contact us
Historic Edinburgh Tours Ltd , 28/2 Bridge Road, Edinburgh, EH13 0LQ
Copyright Historic Edinburgh Tours 2019 Registered in Scotland I SC 454482
This blog post continues from my previous blog post about me wandering around the Old Town and letting my imagination take me on my own Old Edinburgh tour. We’re going to do this ‘time-travelling tour of Edinburgh’ in two parts. In today’s blog, I’ll look at what people can see in this area today. The next post will describe a very different version of exactly the same walk. In that post, I’ll reveal how this area used to look. Hopefully, you’ll see why I walk about the Old Town imagining how it used to be! We’re going to explore the area of the Royal Mile from the eastern side of George IV Bridge to St Giles. This section takes about forty seconds to walk and, today, it features some interesting gold- coloured bricks in the ground, a plaque, a well, some strange looking cobbles, a statue and what’s quite probably Edinburgh’s most important historic church. We start our mini Edinburgh tour by crossing over George IV Bridge. Today the famous Royal Mile is broken up with various bridges and streets. George IV Bridge connected the south of the city with the New Town. The creation of George IV Bridge, Bridge Street and the Mound allowed easy access to the exciting new New Town of Edinburgh. As soon as your feet hit the pavement of the eastern side of George IV Bridge, you can make out three golden coloured bricks just next to the traffic light. There’s a small plaque explaining that this was the site of Edinburgh’s last execution. There was more than one execution which took place here. More of that in our next blog post! The last man to be hanged here wasG eorge Bryce Nicknamed the ‘Ratho Murdered’. Bryce was hanged here on 24 June, 1864. A few feet further down the ‘Mile, we pass through the anti-terrorism arches placed here recently in a bid to protect the many crowds who often gather here. Of more ‘historical’ interest to us is the old well which sits here. This was one of several which sat around the Old Town. you can see one at the bottom of the West Bow (Victoria Street). There’s another which sits in front of the Adam Smith statue on the other side of St Giles. Another well sits in front of the John Knox House and there’s one just next to Queensberry House in the Canongate. Going every day to get the water necessary for a household would have been taxing enough…and then you remember the height of some of the Old Town’s buildings. For the water caddies, serving girls or daughters of Edinburgh’s families, it would have been quite a feat to get their heavy buckets of water up the narrow little staircases and into the houses. Edinburgh’s ‘lands’ could be fearsomely high. Jacobite era ‘Fitbit’ smartwatches would have registered some pretty impressive figures! We then come to the cobbled area of Parliament Square (West). This place is often the site of displays, relatively impromptu shows and performances and Edinburgh tour groups! I know because I bring so many groups here. Right in front of us is the statue of the fifth Duke of Buccleuch. I never mention him on my tours. It’s nothing personal Duke; it’s just that there are so many other things to talk about here! Make sure you don’t spend too much time looking up at either the duke’s statue or the impressive crown steeple of St Giles because you do want to keep an eye on the ground. A rather pretty little decorative ‘heart’ shape can be seen in the paving stones here. This commemorates the Tolbooth Prison, a place Sir Walter Scott nicknamed ‘The Heart of Midlothian’ Finally, our forty second walk concludes next to the imposing bulk of St Giles. Although not religious, I do think of this building more as ‘The High Kirk of Edinburgh’ rather than ‘St Giles Cathedral’. In 1951 the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland – RCHAMS – put together a fascinating ‘Inventory of Edinburgh’. It lists some of Edinburgh’s historically significant buildings…in order of importance. Can you guess what’s at number 1? Ok, possibly ‘Edinburgh Castle’ wasn’t the trickiest answer you’ve ever come up with, but after the Castle is out the road, guessing the rest of the buildings, in order, becomes a little more taxing. St Giles comes in at number 2 on Edinburgh’s historically important building ‘hit parade’ and for good reason. St Giles has been a Catholic cathedral for much of it’s history, it was John Knox’s Church of Scotland stomping ground during the turblulent times of the ‘Lang Siege’ of Edinburgh Castle in the early 1570s and on 23rd July, 1637, it saw Jenny Geddes throw her stool (as in chair type thing…) at the Minister who was doing the King’s bidding by reading the Book of Common Prayer. Her comment of “Daur ye say Mass in my lug?” (“Dare you say the Mass in my ear?”) goes down in Edinburgh’s history as one of our townspeople’s best ‘one-liners’… So, a sixty second walk and we’ve seen traces of Edinburgh’s social past, a link to one of her grisly hangings, an oft-photographed statue, an impressive square and one of Edinburgh’s most historic and impressive buildings. That’s pretty impressive! But that’s Edinburgh, packed with things to see and pour-over. So what happens in our next blog post? Next time I’ll take you on the same route, and we’ll look at a different and far more famous hanging, a long lost street which was popular with one of Scotland’s most famous characters and we’ll look in detail at the Tolbooth building. There’s a lot more to see than the ‘Heart of Midlothian’!
The three coloured setts’ which mark the site of the Libberton’s Wynd executoin spot.
Edinburgh's history can sometimes be easy to miss!
This view shows the eastern side of Libberton’s Wynd as the road was being demolished.
Part of the historic Royal Mile.
The ‘Heart of Midlothian’ mosaic just outside St Giles.
The Heart of Midlothian on the Royal Mile.
You can find out more about this part of the Old Town on our Old Edinburgh walking tour. This guided tour runs most Thursdays - 10.30am- 12.30pm and 2-4pm and then the same times on Saturdays. It’s the perfect introduction to Edinburgh’s history.
Call us : +44 (0)7590 026 077
Call us : +44 (0)7590 026 077