Royal Mile aka High Street, Edinburgh

4.5 out of 5 stars 76 Reviews

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    IT ONLY WAS KNOWN AS THE ROYAL MILE SINCE 1901

    by davidjo Written Aug 12, 2015

    The Royal Mile, as the name suggests is about a mile long and runs downhill from the castle (where the monarch used to live) to Holyrood Palace, one of the official residences of the queen. The Royal Mile runs through the old town and is also known as the High Street but actually it is a succession of five streets called Castlehill, the Lawnmarket, the High Street, the Canongate and Abbey Strand. The name ROYAL MILE was first used in 1901 by W M Gilbert who published a book called "Edinburgh in the nineteenth century" and the name has stuck since then.
    For me this is the most interesting street in the country as many of the buildings in the old town are dated from the 17th century and before. Walking along here could take you all day as thereare museums, churches, closes, markets, souvenir shops, statues, restaurants and pubs, not forgetting Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace at each end.

    LOOKING UP THE ROYAL MILE LOOKING DOWN THE ROYAL MILE
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    WON AT GOLF AND BUILT A BRAND NEW TENEMENT

    by davidjo Written Aug 11, 2015

    I found this plaque on a wall of the Kilderkin Pub towards the bottom of the Royal Mile and was amused at the story it told. There used to be a tenement building on the site but it was demolished in 1960 but the interesting point is how the tenement was built. The Duke of York (later James VII) needed a golfing partner for a game of foursomes so he chose a shoemaker, John Paterson as his partner against two noblemen. John was an accomplished golfer and he did more than his fair share when he and the Duke won the game and as a reward the Duke gave him all the money from the wager. It must have been quite a lot as the shoemaker constructed the tenement building with the reward and called it GOLFER'S LAND.

    IT TELLS THE STORY KILDERKIN PUB & RESTAURANT ANOTHER PLAQUE THE PUB
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    PAY YOUR TOLL FEE HERE

    by davidjo Written Aug 11, 2015

    Tolls and public dues were collected in the Tolbooth in Canongate, Royal Mile, which was constructed as early as 1591. The large clock that you see is from 1820 but it replaced a 17th century. The Latin inscription in front of the clock means "The place of the seal of the Burgh for one's country and one's successors, 1591".
    The tower of the tolbooth was originally built in 1591 by Sir Lewis Bellenden when Canongate was an independent burgh and it served as a council office, jail and courthouse . In 1875 it was renovated and remodeled with the intention of giving the exterior back its medieval appearance.

    THE TOLBOOTH THE TOLBOOTH CLOCK THE TOLBOOTH Tolbooth Tavern
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    A BRAVE FIREFIGHTER WHO DIED ON DUTY.

    by davidjo Written Aug 10, 2015

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    In Parliament Square a statue of James Braidwood (1800-61) was unveiled in 2008, but who was he?

    In 1824 he was the founder of the Edinburgh Fire Brigade, which was the first municipal fire service in the world. He was originally a cabinet maker and builder before concentrating on fire-fighting. Later on he became director of what was to become the London Fire Brigade and he actually died fighting a fire at Cotton's Wharf in Tooley Street, London in 1861 and was rewarded with a great turn out at his funeral for his heroism. He was killed when a wall fell on top of him. The Tooley Street fire was one of the biggest in the 19th century and destroyed many buildings while it raged for two days, and it eventually was extinguished two weeks later.

    The bronze plaque on the statue says--

    James Braidwood
    1800 - 1861
    Father of the British Fire Service
    This statue is dedicated to the memory of James Braidwood, a pioneer of the scientific approach to fire-fighting. It also recognises the courage and sacrifice of fire-fighters, not only in Lothian & Borders Fire and Rescue Service, but all over the world.

    SIR JAMES BRAIDWOOD
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    ROYAL MILE CLOSES, PART 2

    by davidjo Written Aug 10, 2015

    As you walk down the Royal Mile you will pass by many closes, an alleyway that leads to courtyards and houses. most of them were named after famous occupants or the businesses that were established around the courtyard. Today you can wander down some of them and take a look at the buildings, others may have a closed gate which means that it is private. The name of the close is above the entrance and there is usually a plaque at the side which tells you some history or the names of anyone famous who lived there. The closes intended to be narrow with tall buildings each side as the population was dense back then and this provided security against English attacks.
    At the moment there are 82 closes in the Royal Mile and some have peculiar names such as Fleshmarket Close, Old Stamp Office Close, World's End Close

    PHOTO 1 Old Assembly Close This used to be called Little Close after the two brothers who lived here, one of them founded the University Library but the name was changed in 1720 when the dance assembly had classes here. It was also the scene of one of the worst fires in the city which destroyed all buildings between the close and Parliament square
    PHOTO 2 Covenant Close was named for housing the residence in which a copy of the National Covenant was signed for approval at Greyfriars Church

    OLD ASSEMBLY CLOSE COVENANT CLOSE
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    CLOSES OF THE ROYAL MILE

    by davidjo Written Aug 10, 2015

    As you walk down the Royal Mile you will pass by many closes, an alleyway that leads to courtyards and houses. most of them were named after famous occupants or the businesses that were established around the courtyard. Today you can wander down some of them and take a look at the buildings, others may have a closed gate which means that it is private. The name of the close is above the entrance and there is usually a plaque at the side which tells you some history or the names of anyone famous who lived there. The closes intended to be narrow with tall buildings each side as the population was dense back then and this provided security against English attacks.
    At the moment there are 82 closes in the Royal Mile and some have peculiar names such as Fleshmarket Close, Old Stamp Office Close, World's End Close,

    PHOTO 1 Advocate's Close --- recently renovated and won an architect award for the development
    PHOTO 2 Plaque giving details of resident of Advocate's Close
    PHOTO 3 Borthwick's Close dates back to 1450 where Lord Borthwick resided
    PHOTO 4 Old Fishmarket Close was once a stinking steep ravine from the smell of fish. The Hangman lived there, the last of which was John High who died in 1817
    PHOTO 5 Old Stamp Office Close was where the Government stamp office was located until 1821

    OLD FISHMARKET CLOSE ADVOCATE'S CLOSE BORTHWICK'S CLOSE
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    BATTLE SCENES WITH THE DUKE

    by davidjo Written Aug 10, 2015

    In Parliament Square, just in front of Giles cathedral is a rather grand statue of the 5th Duke of Buccleuch that was erected in 1888. Walter Francis Montagu Douglas Scott (1806-84) stands on top wearing the Order of the Garter Robes. Underneath there are several panels that illustrate episodes in his life and his family history. Take a look at the battle scenes as they are particularly well sculpted. He was a politician, nobleman and landowner whose political career came to an end after supporting PM Peel.

    5th Duke of Buccleuch plaque battle scenes on the panels ABOVE THE PLAQUES
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    WELLHEADS & WATER SUPPLY IN THE 17 -19TH CENTURIES

    by davidjo Written Aug 10, 2015

    Walking along the Royal Mile you can see at least 4 wellheads., Lawnmarket, Netherbow, High Street and Canongate which was the only way locals could obtain water until 1820. On each structure you will find a plaque which explains their use and where the water supply came from. In 1681 the water came from Castlehill Reservoir near the castle, but was replaced by a 2 million gallon tank at the same place in 1851, which was fed from springs in the Pentland Hills. In the olden days the locals would meet at the wellheads and gossip to each other.
    Water was delivered by 'caddies', men who strapped a bulit barrel to their back, or of course people could collect it themselves by using a stoup (narrow necked bucket) and a girr was used as a means to provide stability to the water carrier. Sometimes water was rationed during the summer months so the locals started queueing at 3 am and quite often fights would begin as the people became impatient.

    THE NETHERBOW WELLHEAD THE LAWNMARKET WELLHEAD THE PLAQUE THE HIGH STREET WELLHEAD
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    ONE OF THE GREAT PHILOSOPHERS OF THE 18TH CENTURY

    by davidjo Updated Aug 10, 2015

    In front of the High Court building in the Royal Mile stands a statue of David Hume (1711-76) who was a famous a famous philosopher who was one of the most influential thinkers of that time. The sculptor was Sandy Stoddart and the bronze statue was unveiled in 1995. Hume looks extremely serious in the statue, probably he is contemplating something or other.

    DAVID HUME
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    ROBERT BURNS & THE WRITERS MUSEUM

    by davidjo Written Aug 10, 2015

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    Along the Royal Mile there are many closes that lead to tenement buildings that were built many years ago. Lady Stairs Close is one such close and it boasts that the famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns lived there at one time. if you walk down the close you will come to Lady Stairs House that was constructed in 1622 for Sir William Gray of Pittendrum who was a Baronet. It was once called Lady Gray's House after the widow of the owner, but it was purchased in 1719 by the widow of the Earl of Stair and that is how it got its present name.
    In the close you will find the Scottish Writers Museum which contains memorabilia from the three great Scottish writers that lived in Edinburgh, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott and Robert burns.

    MUSEUM OPEN Mon - Sat 10.00 to 17.00
    Fri and Sat you can have a free tour at 1 pm or 3 pm.

    THE WRITERS MUSEUM FAMOUS RESIDENT THE SIGN ON THE STONE FLOOR
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    HRH DUKE OF EDINBURGH OPENED A LIBRARY HERE

    by davidjo Written Aug 10, 2015

    This building was constructed in 1699 by Thomas Fisher who was the first chamberlain of Edinburgh. I have no idea what the building was used for before 1953 but HRH the Duke of Edinburgh opened the Scottish Central Library here after some renovation and restoration took place. There is an impressive crest above the door but i believe that it is no longer a library according to what i saw through the two windows. Two Scottish flags were flying on flagpoles outside the building so i guess it must be of some importance. It is next to the Whisky Trail in the Royal Mile

    CREST ABOVE DOOR BUILDING FROM 1699
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    THE MAN WITHOUT A HEAD

    by davidjo Written Aug 10, 2015

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    It is amazing what some people get up to in order to earn a few pounds. I came across the street artist on three consecutive days when i was walking along the Royal Mile. He usually hangs around by St. Giles Cathedral but on the other side of the road. Although it is a clever idea i would certainly not dream of throwing a few coins his way, and by the looks of his meager collection in his plastic box most people thought the same way as me.

    IS THIS WORTH A FEW COINS ?

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    TARTAN WEAVING MILL IN THE OLD RESERVOIR

    by davidjo Written Aug 9, 2015

    At the top of the Royal mile in Castle Hill it is well worth visiting the Tartan Weaving Mill, just to see how the tartan is weaved. It looks like a small building but when you enter there are 4 more floors beneath street level. The 5 storey building really consists of shops that sells tartan kilts, bags, scarves and other clothes and souvenirs and the working mill occupies the ground floor. Geoffrey Taylor Kiltmaker runs the building. You can see the whole process of kilt making from shearing sheep to the finished product---a kilt. On the basement floor you can see the looms in action and you can also look down from the floor above. on one of the floors their is a loom which you can view at close quarters.

    OPEN from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm.

    The building was originally Castle Hill Reservoir which supplied fresh water to all the residents in the Royal Mile. Water was first piped from Corniston Springs to Edinburgh in 1676, but in 1849 a 2 million gallon tank was built at Castle Hill to supply the New Town but it was withdrawn from service in 1992 and now the mill occupies the building where the reservoir used to be.

    WEAVING MACHINE BAGS KILTS WEAVING MACHINE TARTAN WEAVING MILL
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    ~ Walk a Mile ~

    by RavensWing Written Apr 15, 2015

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    The Royal Mile has many different attractions, historical buildings, cafe's, restaurants, pubs and of course souvenir shops.

    It is a very popular place, it is always packed with people day and night. It's great though as you can find anything you wish on this street. Whether you're out for supper, looking for that special trinket to bring home to your family/friends, looking for a ghost tour, a pub to rest your feet for a few minutes before you head out again, maybe a Whiskey tour, the fun interactive Camera Obscura World of Illusions or the underground Mary's Close. There is no shortage of things to do along the Royal Mile.

    Royal Mile Royal Mile Royal Mile Royal Mile
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    History, Tartan and Ghosts

    by EasyMalc Updated Mar 15, 2015

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    First impressions of the Royal Mile might lead you to the conclusion that the most famous thoroughfare in Scotland is just one long street encouraging swarms of tourists to part with their hard earned money on buying ‘Tartan Tat’, but scratch below the surface and it will soon become apparent why this spinal chord that joins the castle with Holyrood has played such an important part in Edinburgh’s - and Scotland’s - history.
    The history goes back a long way too - about 340 million years in fact. This was around the time when volcanic activity, followed by glaciers during the ice age, helped to form a classic example of what geologists call a ‘Crag and Tail’. Obviously the crag is where the castle sits, and the tail is the ridge that has become known as the Royal Mile.
    This famous artery is not just one street but five - Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, Canongate and Abbey Strand, and if you’ve not been here before it helps to know where each one is and what it has to offer.
    It’s worth mentioning though that the city grew down from the castle, and up from the Abbey of Holyrood and eventually met somewhere in the middle. This will help to explain how the different streets evolved.
    The busiest end is the top half from the High Street, through the Lawnmarket and up to Castlehill. Excluding the Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House, there are still plenty of places to visit up and down here, so it’s best to try and work out in advance what interests you most before you start out.
    Each of the streets are lined with tall tenement buildings interspersed with ‘Closes’. These courtyards and alleyways are an integral part of old Edinburgh and abound with stories that will make your hair curl and a dream location for ghost tours.
    The Royal Mile has everything from history, architecture, attractions, shops, and pubs, so don’t expect a quiet time here. You probably won’t have time to see everything so it’s worth having a bit of a plan to make sure that you see what you want to - and then head for the shops, pubs and ‘Tartan Tat’.

    The Lawnmarket Castlehill High St Cannongate Abbey Strand
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