The rumors of ghosts and hauntings that run rampant in the City of Edinburgh, Scotland, will make you want to come back for more!
One of the many things that I enjoy about my work, as mentioned in past articles, are the places my employment with IBM have taken me; most recently, to Edinburgh, Scotland. I was sure to pack my camera and recording devices to take a quick tour of the city. I knew from the many tales I’d heard that Scotland was full of haunted castles and battlefields, the most famous of which is, of course, Edinburgh Castle in the heart of the city.
Naturally, as a researcher and investigator at heart, I had to learn about Edinburgh’s history in order to better appreciate what I was seeing. So here’s a brief synopsis on what I learned prior to my visit to Edinburgh.
EDINBURGH’S COLORFUL HISTORY
Edinburgh originally began in the early 7th century as a small fortress built on the highest point of a group of seven red sandstone hills overlooking the harbor, not far from the English border. Unfortunately, it fell to the English in the mid-to-late 7th century and borrowed the name Eiden’s Burgh from what they thought was olde-English, but which turned out to be the Gaelic word for “fort.” The small fort and port remained in the hands of the English until it was recaptured by the Scotts in the 10th century by Malcolm III, who then began building a great castle upon the red rock. A small township began to thrive at its base, aptly called Edinburgh.
Since religion played a great part in communities in the Middle Ages, David I founded Holyrood Abbey in 1128 for the Augustinian Canons , who named it
“Canongate,” originally from the olde English word, ‘gait’ meaning ‘road,’ because it was built upon the road to the castle.
This location allowed the Dominican Friars of the Abby to preach to the citizens as they passed to do business in or from the castle. By the way, friars were the total opposite of monks, because unlike monks who were recluses and were rarely seen outdoors, they went out prostelizing into the streets of Edinburgh, wearing black or brown robes, whereas the Augustinian friars wore grey.
THE ROYAL MILE
I was walking down Via Regis, or the Way of the King, also named High Street. I began walking in an easterly direction as I headed up the hill toward the Edinburgh Castle. The Royal Mile follows the eastern shoulder of what was actually an ancient volcano, giving the landscape a unique and distinguishable geographical incline and familiar rock formations. I also learned on my trek up this steep incline, which isn’t too bad if you take it at a leisurely pace, that Eiden is actually an ancient Gaelic word, “Dun Eidyn,” meaning “sloping ridge,” and that people have lived on it for over 7000 years, to which there has been a burgh (fortress) on the Castlehill for nearly 2000 years!
In reality the Royal Mile is actually longer than a mile by 107 yards. From High Street I was led me past several historical landmarks, including the famous streets of Castlehill, Lawnmarket, Cannongate, and Abby Strand, eventually ending up at the Holyrood Palace. (That should not to be confused with the Hollywood Planet.) From there it was just a short walk past the large open square to the Castle entrance.
It was during King David I’s reign that the burgh on the crag (Gaelic for “cliff”) and the clachan (Gaelic for “village”) supplied goods to the noblemen, soldiers, and monks along the road referred to as the Royal Mile. David Iwas inspired during a remodeling project in 1128 and began calling it the Burgh of Eiden, and granted trading rights to the township of Lawnmarket below. Giving way to the open air trading market in front of the castle. He also laid out the plans for the High Street, often referred to as the Via Regis, or Way of the King, allowing this path to be called the Royal Mile today.
THE EDINBURGH CASTLE
After completing my tour of the Royal Mile, I ended up at the castle. The view was breathless, and it was a great site from which to see the Seven Hills of Edinburgh-or at least six of them, because I was standing on one of them. As I worked my way through the crowds, I found the castle entrance and encountered an actor dressed as Sir William Wallace, who looked a lot like Mel Gibson. He gladly pointed me to the ticket gate. Once there, the queue was almost as long as the walk up, with everyone waiting to pay their fee to get into the castle – 20£. Needless to say, plan ahead and get there early. Also, check the calendar before you plan a trip, as the price fluctuates based on the season. As it turned out, the castle was celebrating thirty years of having been renovated and the next weekend the admission would have been free! Since time was short, I didn’t go on in, and it was only a couple of hours before closing. But it gave me a great reason to be sure to plan another holiday vacation in Edinburgh – next summer.
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