Sunday, 19 May 2013

A Quiet Inspiration

Edinburgh Castle 
Although sometimes I tire of the commute, Edinburgh is a wonderful city to work in.  From my classroom window I have a terrific view of the castle; Princes Street Gardens and the fabulous National Gallery are just a short walk downhill and during the Summer, the festival means free entertainment on every street corner.

In the week I am often to be found working through lunch but, sometimes, I get to leave the classroom... just for a little while.

On these occasions one of my favourite haunts (excuse the pun) is Greyfriars Graveyard.  People have been buried in Greyfriars for over 400 years and as you would expect there are a number of notable 'residents' though perhaps the most well-known is neither man nor woman but a small Skye terrier - Greyfriars Bobby.

The story, that I'm sure you know already, is that Bobby belonged to John Gray who worked as a night watchman for the Edinburgh city police.  When he died his loyal canine companion could not bear to be parted and sat by his graveyard every night for 14 years until his own death in 1872.  The story has inspired many films and books, and Bobby's grave, just inside the cemetery gates, receives more visitors than his owner's just a short distance away.  I'm amazed at how many people, not just the young, feel drawn to leave a memento at his graveside or have their picture taken next to his commemorative statue.  Each week flowers, small cuddly toys, and an abundance of sticks are left by his headstone and have to be regularly removed to make room for more.

Greyfriars other claim to fame is not so sentimental - it is said to be haunted by the restless ghost of the infamous 'Bloody' George Mackenzie who was responsible for the imprisonment and deaths of hundreds of Presbyterian Covenanters. Much is made of this supernatural activity and regular 'ghost tours' brave a visit through the graveyard at night.  I tend to stay away from his vault and have only ever experienced Greyfriars as a peaceful and surprisingly sunny place in which to take a moment to pause in a busy day (and enjoy a cappuccino and delicious brownie from nearby Bobby's sandwich bar).  I guess you see and feel what you look for!
The scary looking Mackenzie vault

Greyfriars has been a source of other literary inspiration as well. J K Rowling spent some time in a nearby cafe 'The Elephant House', writing the first of the Harry Potter books. She must surely have wandered through the graveyard herself, perhaps with cappuccino in hand too, as in Greyfriars you will find the graves of a Potter, McGonagall, Moodie and most interestingly - a Thomas Riddle.


Linking up with The Monday Club again today over at Hello Wall Do visit and read some of the other brilliant posts.


  1. I'm ashamed to say I have never visited Edinburgh but it is on my wish list. Poor Bobby! Julie x

  2. Such an interesting post today. I sent a link on to my daughter who will be quite interested in the Harry Potter connection. Thanks

  3. That is really interesting, firstly about Bobby, who I knew about, but you told his tale so touchingly.

    But the HP stuff is brilliant. I keep coming across people, phrases, legends that she has linked into the Potter books, giving them another level. Clever lady.

  4. I would love to visit some day, especially to see the castle.

  5. Love the HP connections! I have only been to Edinburgh once, a long time ago, but I would really like my children to see it. Maybe one day!

  6. I just enrolled my six-year-old in Harry Potter summer camp, so this post speaks to me. I only wish I'd been wearing my teacher hat/carrying my mom lens when I visited Edinburgh 10 years ago. Sadly (or maybe happily?) I focused my efforts on beer consumption. Either way, I enjoyed the city and look forward to my next visit.