Edinburgh Old Town, Scotland

Edinburgh Old Town, Scotland

The Old Town of Edinburgh grew around the fort on the Castle Rock. The first buildings in Edinburgh were beside the Castle, for protection, but gradually they spread down the ridge to the east of the fortress. This is the Old Town. By the 12th century Edinburgh had become a town and royal burgh. After David I founded the Abbey of the Holy Rude in the royal park Edinburgh developed down the long road between the Castle and Holyrood.

By the 16th century James IV had started to build a royal palace at Holyrood and had made Edinburgh known throughout Europe. When James V's daughter, Mary Queen of Scots was born in 1542 the pattern of the Old Town with multi-storeyed tenements and narrow wynds was well established. City walls had been developed. The King's Wall c1450 - 1475; the Flodden Wall 1514 - 1560; the Telfer Wall 1628 - 1636 which stretched down to the Grassmarket and south just beyond Greyfriars. A few fragments of the city wall may still be seen, in the Vennel off the Grassmarket, and on the west side of the Pleasance near its junction with the Cowgate.

The main thoroughfare was the Royal Mile. The Canongate was outside the city walls and was a burgh in its own right until 1856. The Old Town was the home of the Scottish parliament until the Union with the English of 1707; and the home of the law courts.

After 1767 the development of the New Town led to the more affluent moving across the valley to this classical elegant town. The Old Town was left with a much reduced population of mainly the poor. Today life is being restored to the Old Town. It has been declared a conservation area; the Old Town Renewal Trust has been formed to care for it and old buildings are being restored. People are returning to live and work here.

Some places to see.

Go along George IV Bridge to the top of Candlemaker Row to pay tribute to Greyfriars Bobby, a loyal Skye Terrier who remained by his master's grave for fourteen years. The monument was erected not long after Bobby's death.

Lady Stair's House just off the Lawnmarket is, one of the city museums and commemorates three great literary Scots - Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson (both of whom were born in Edinburgh) and Robert Burns, the Ayrshire poet.

The Grassmarket is an historic square noted for its antique shops, boutiques and restaurants. Robert Burns and William Wordsworth once stayed in the White Hart Inn on the north side of the Grassmarket. The site of the Beehive has been a tavern for around 500 years.

High Street has St Giles' Cathedral, a famous landmark in the city. The Thistle Chapel of the cathedral is used by members of the Order of the Thistle, the premier order of chivalry of Scotland.

John Knox's House is in the High Street. The famous Protestant reformer lived here from 1561-72. John Knox's House was saved from demolition men by the Protestant Society.

Museum of Childhood in High Street is one of the most popular attractions in Scotland.

Canongate contains most of Edinburgh's surviving medieval buildings. Of note are Chessel's Court, Huntly House Museum, Canongate Tollbooth, Canongate Church and White Horse Close.

Edinburgh Old Town


Edinburgh, World Heritage City