The Grassmarket Area was where people from all over brought their livestock to sell at market. Cattle, horses, sheep and goats also many market stalls would sell homemade and grown goods. This is the oldest market area that has been recorded in history and has been written about since before the 1400s. It was James the III who first gave charter to a weekly market in 1477. This area was first paved in 1543. Today there is a weekly Saturday Market with all kinds of goods form early morning to late afternoon there is a hive of activity. The Grassmarket has one road that runs through for traffic and the rest of the area is pedestrianised with outside drinking and eating areas for all the family.
The Cowgate at the east end of the Grassmarket is as it suggests the road the livestock were brought to the market place. The West Port was the west gate to the City and the West Bow originally was a road that wound its way down a steep hill from Castlehill to the Grassmarket before it was altered in the early part of the 1800s when it was linked with the new George IV Bridge. The original road was where the steps are now that take you to the Upper Bow and Lawnmarket. The West bow now joined with Victoria Street to make an easier but longer route up the hill. The old city wall was extended to include the Grassmarket in 1513 after the Battle of Flodden.
North Side of the Grassmarket 1830
Grassmarket 500th Anniversary Plaque
This plaque was unveiled |on the 3rd of October 1977 by the | Rt. Hon. Kenneth Borthwick. | Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh | To commemorate the 500th anniversary | of a reorganisation of Edinburgh markets. | Authorised by King James III. | on the 3rd of October 1477. | The Cattle Market was situated at | the western end of the Grassmarket | and in King’s Stables Road | this are was then just outside the Burgh.
The Flodden Wall markers close by show where the boundary of Edinburgh was and at the foot of the steps on the south side of the road was the West Bow Gate.
The White Hart Inn Grassmarket Edinburgh
The White Hart Inn Edinburgh was established in 1516, The White Hart Inn is one of the oldest and most historic pubs in Edinburgh. Past visitors have included the poets Robert Burns and William Wordsworth. The murderers Burke and Hare also were regulars in the pub in the late 1820s, as this is where they were to lure their victims back to their nearby lodgings, where they were murdered and their bodies sold to Dr Knox for medical research and study by students of the University medical school. During the First World War, on 2 April 1916, a German Zeppelin bombing raid was mounted over Edinburgh. During the bombing, a bomb exploded on the pavement outside a Public House, injuring four, one of whom died of shrapnel injuries.
Zeppelin Airship Paving Slab Grassmarket Edinburgh
This Stone marks the site of a bomb dropped from Zeppelin Airship L14 on the night of 2nd April 1916 on that night 2 Zeppelin Airships dropped bomb on Leith and Edinburgh. Some of the places they were dropped in Edinburgh were; 39 Lauriston Place, 183 Causewayside, Marchmont Crescent, Belford Place, Lothian Road, the Castle Rock near the king’s Bridge, 16 Marshall Street, Nicolson Street, 69 St Leonards Hill, Royal Infirmary at Lauriston and Coltbridge Gardens. There were a number of deaths and injured plus substantial damage to property.
Burke and Hare Murders Grassmarket Edinburgh
West Port Murders
Burke and Hare were serial killers in Edinburgh from December 1827 to October 1828. Both from Ireland and came to Edinburgh for work as labourers. The murders they carried out were also known as the West Port murders. The killings were carried out by two Irish immigrants, William Burke and William Hare. They sold the bodies of their victims, 17 in all to Dr Robert Knox, to be used in the medical school for teaching students. Burke and Hare would spend their evenings in the White Hart Inn in the Grassmarket where they would drink with potential victims, leave with them and take them to an ally or their lodgings where they would kill them with a form of strangulation so as not to damage the corpse. Burke was the only one prosecuted for the crimes and was hanged in Edinburgh on 28 January 1829. His skeleton hangs in the Anatomical Museum in the Medical School Teviot Row. Hare died penniless in London in 1858. Part of Burke’s sentence is that his body was to be put on public display for all eternity. There are more items on display e.g. death masks of Burke and Hare. A wallet made fro the skin of
CHILDREN’S RHYME ABOUT BURKE AND HARE
Up the close and down the stair,
In the house with Burke and Hare,
Burke’s the Butcher, Hare’s the thief,
Knox, the boy who buys the beef.
The Beehive Inn Grassmarket Edinburgh
The actual door of the death cell that was in the Calton Jail in Regent Road can be found on the first floor of the Beehive Inn.
Grassmarket Mission Grassmarket Edinburgh
The Grassmarket Mission was founded by James Fairbairn in 1886. In 1930, the Mission purchased the building next door (at 96 Grassmarket) and constructed a new Mission Hall Alexander Barrie, was appointed Superintendent in 1916, Mission became known colloquially as “The Barries”. The Mission was there to help the poor and needy of the Grassmarket in 1989 the decision was made to sell the Mission Halls. The Grassmarket Community Project was incorporated and funded by The Grassmarket Mission in 2010 and is still going strong. The Plaque reads; Grassmarket Mission | Undenominational | Erected in Memory of | James Fairbairn | Founder and First Superintendent | Of This Mission | Died 3rd ay 1894 | “His works Do Follow Him “.
The Grassmarket Gallows Grassmarket Edinburgh
The Grassmarket Edinburgh 1477 to 1911 was one of Edinburgh’s main markets for horse and cattle. The Grassmarket was also a setting for public executions. Maggie Dickson, a murderess, was a fishwife from Musselburgh who was hanged in the Grassmarket in 1728 for murdering her own baby and lived after the hanging. After she was hanged her body was taken back to Musselburgh in a coffin by her family. However, on the journey home she awoke and, under Scots Law at that time, as she had served her punishment, she was free to go. Only later the words “until dead” were added to the sentence of hanging. You can find the pub named after her just a few yards from where she was hanged. The shadow of a gibbet is marked on the paving stones where the former gallows were. The inscription around the stone reads; On this Spot many Martyrs and Covenanters died for the Protestant Faith
Inscription on the pavement reads; The last person to be hanged from the Grassmarket gallows was James Andrews on the 4th February 1784
The Memorial Garden Grassmarket Edinburgh
The Grassmarket Memorial Garden Plaque reads; This Memorial Garden | was opened by | His Grace Douglas Fourteenth Duke of Hamilton | K.T. G.C.V.Q A.F.C | in the presence of | The Lord Provost, Magistrates and Council | of the | City of Edinburgh | ministers of the Church of Scotland & The reformed Presbyterian Church | A representative detachment of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) | and a large public assembly | 24th October 1954
The Grassmarket Cross
THIS CROSS (ORIGINALLY A CRUCIFIX) WAS AT ONE TIME IMPOSED UPON THE WALL OF THE HOUSE WHICH STOOD IMMEDIATELY OPPOSITE THE SITE OF THE GALLOWS IN THE GRASSMARKET USED FOR PUBLIC EXECUTIONS. IT WAS THE LAST OBJECT TO BE SEEN BY THE SUFFERERS BEFORE DEATH. AMONG OTHERS WHO WERE EXECUTED AT THE SPOT WERE MANY WHO SUFFERED FOR CONSCIENCE SAKE. NOT IMPROBABLY SOME MEMBERS OF THIS CONGREGATION. IT IS NOT UNTRUE THEREFORE TO DESCRIBE IT AS A MARTYR’S CROSS AND NOT UNFITTING THAT IT SHOULD FIND PLACE HERE. WHEN THE HOUSE WAS DEMOLISHED THE CROSS WAS GIVEN TO ROBERT FARQUHAR SHAW STEWART WHOSE FAMILY PRESENTED IT TO OLD SAINT PAUL’S.
Captain John Porteous Lynching Grassmarket Edinburgh
Captain John Porteous Lynching in 1736 after 10 years being Captain of the City Guard John Porteous was lynched on 7 September 1736. Three smugglers/robbers were caught and imprisoned for carrying out a robbery. William Hall, George Robertson and Andrew Wilson. At their trial William Hall was sentenced to transportation to the colonies for life, but Andrew Wilson and George Robertson were sentenced to hang and were imprisoned in the Tolbooth in Edinburgh’s High Street awaiting execution. George Robertson escaped and made his way out of Britain. However, Andrew Wilson was publicly hanged in the Grassmarket in April of 1736. As events unfolded a riot started and the City guard was called out, led by Captain John Porteous. Due to the rioting Captain John Porteous instructed his men to fire above the heads of the crowd this made the riot even more heated, the shots had killed onlookers who were at their windows of their houses. With the crowd getting even more violent, Captain Porteous gave the order to shoot into the crowd and more were killed. Later that day Captain John Porteous was arrested and charged with murder. At his trial on 5 July 1736, he was convicted by a unanimous decision and found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. The execution took place in the Grassmarket on 8 Sept. 1736.
The West Bow Wellhead Grassmarket Edinburgh
West Bow Wellhead was built in 1681. The West Bow is a continuation of Victoria Street at the east end of the Grassmarket. This was the first well head built to supply water to the Grassmarket from the reservoir at Castle Hill. Until 1820 these square stone well heads were the only way in which the thousands of people of Edinburgh could access drinking water. The reservoir was filled by the springs from the Pentland hills.
Door Lintel Grassmarket Edinburgh
71 Grassmarket The Lintel above the door Inscription: 1889 VITAM (LIFE) DIRIGAT (DIRECT)
The Flodden Wall Grassmarket Edinburgh
From Granny Green Steps across to The Vennel in the west end of the Grassmarket is where the Flodden Wall stood as a protection against invading armies.
The Flodden Wall is the name given to the defensive wall which was built to surround the City of Edinburgh in 1513. The pictures below show the Flodden Wall as it is today. The first part of the wall visible is in The Vennel and the final part still standing is in The Pleasance. It was in 1513 that the Scots waged a disastrous attack on the English at Flodden Field. James IV was killed in the action, along with 10,000 other Scots. The Flodden Wall was built to defend Edinburgh from English attacks. Many parts of the wall survive to this day. The wall starts at the Castle goes down Granny Green Steps to the Grassmarket across the Grassmarket to the Vennel Steps where you can find the ‘Flodden Tower’ where the Flodden wall joins the Telfer Wall. This extension was to protect the Heriot Hospital, now Heriot’s School. John Taillefer was the master mason who built and named the Telfer Wall (1628 – 1636). At the corner of Lauriston Place and Heriot Place turn left and follow Heriot’s School wall until you reach a further part of the Telfer Wall. Continue round into Forrest Road where there is a plaque on the wall. This is where the wall would have crossed to the Bristo Gate on your right. Continue on and you will come to Greyfriar’s Kirkyard where there are many interesting things to see including parts of the Telfer Wall and where it joins with The Flodden Wall.
Flodden Wall Granny Green Steps Flodden Wall Grassmarket Flodden Wall Grassmarket
Flodden Wall Vennel Steps Grassmarket Flodden Wall Vennel Steps Grassmarket Flodden Wall King David’s Tower, the joining to the Telfer Wall
The Inscription on the paving stones by Sir Walter Scott:
From Flodden ridge,
The Scots beheld the English host
Leave Barmoor Wood, their evening post
And headful watched them as they crossed
The Till by Twizell Bridge.
High sight it is, and haughty, while
They dive into the deep defile;
Beneath the cavern’d cliff they fall,
Beneath the castle’s airy wall.
By rock, by oak, by Hawthorn tree,
Troop after troop are disappearing;
Troop after troop their banners rearing
Upon the eastern bank you see.
By rock, by oak, by Hawthorn tree,
Still pouring down the rocky glen,
Where flows the sullen Till,
And rising from the dim-wood glen,
Standards on standards, men on men,
In slow procession still,
And sweeping o’er the Gothic arch,
And pressing on in ceaseless march,
To gain the opposing hill.
Sir Walter Scott
1771 – 1832
Link to the remaining parts of the Flodden Wall and Telfer Wall and the route the wall once stood with the cobbles showing where the Nether Bow gate stood the main entrance to the city.