I first came to Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival of 2014. The city was buzzing with life during August, featuring some of the best comedy, music, and theatre this side of the globe. But it was only once I settled into this city to begin my M.A. that I was able to appreciate its rich history. Here’s just a few of my favourite spots.
Named for its original purpose of herding cattle, Cowgate is a small street at the lowest level of the city. You may recognise it from the opening chase scene of Trainspotting. Danny Boyle clearly chose wisely: This street leads to a wonderful range of nightlife spots such as the Banshee Labyrinth, Opium and Three Sisters. The street also has the distinction of being the birthplace of Irish patriot James Connolly.
Near Cowgate is Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, in which a number of famous Scots are buried. It also features spectacular gravestones. This one features a skeleton who’s been caught reading his sister’s diary.
At least that’s what it looks like. It also includes graves which have been reinforced with bars, owing to the nasty trend of graverobbing during the early 19th century. I mean, that’s what they say. Obviously, the residents of Edinburgh were in the know about the impending zombie apocalypse.
Most interesting, however, is the grave of a man who seems to have captured the imagination of young J.K. Rowling during her student days. The grave honors the real-life gentleman Thomas Riddell Esq and his son of the same name. For reasons best known to herself, Rowling adapted the name (changing the spelling slightly) for use in her books. Every Hallowe’en, fans of Harry Potter gather together to duel of the grave of the real-life Voldemort.
Just by Broughton Street, one can see a tribute to one of the greatest literary creations of all time in all his deerstalker glory.
That’s right! Arthur Conan Doyle was a proud Scot, who spent the first twenty years of his life in Edinburgh gaining his medical degree from Edinburgh university. The statue (which is probably better than the one in London) was constructed opposite Conan Doyle’s birthplace in Picardy Place. The house was demolished in the Seventies, but in its place stands the Conan Doyle pub.
Of course, no hero is worth their salt without a good villain. For this reason, on the other side of town, we can find the Moriarty bar.
Coincidence? Yes, that’s exactly what it is, unfortunately. I asked the barman and he says they just liked the name. As the detective himself says; crime is common, logic is rare.
Edinburgh is strongly aware of its rich medieval past and nowhere is this more clear than the in the wonderful The Knights Vault. The shop contains a number of wonderful antique swords, gathered from auctions across the country. One thing I’ve learned since living in this city is that the Scottish are very proud of their claymores.
An entire range of Lord of the Rings swords, shields and axes are available for purchase, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! I am told the shop is the only manufacturer in the UK with a license to make replicas of Outlander swords. A number of Game of Thrones replicas can also be purchased (I am told Oathkeeper is an especially popular item), all crafted to shiny perfection.
Unfortunately Valyrian Steel is asking a bit too much; the replicas are largely made of a special stainless steel. If you’re interested in a decorative sword, but can’t make the trip, the website also delivers! Apparently, sword enthusiasts are fairly common in the capital. So if you ever get in a fight in Scotland; be aware, they might have sword stashed somewhere!
For more pictures from my time in Edinburgh, check the Arcade instagram! Have you spent time in Scotland? Did you enjoy it? Let us know in the comments!