Sunday, 16 October 2016
In another lifetime I wandered around Edinburgh looking for photographs. Having been brought up there for around twenty or so years I discovered on the occasions I returned that there was nothing to photograph. This is because you do not see what is all around you when you live there, it is just there! You learn about the history at school to some degree but what is in front of the nose is more important especially when in the teen years. The 'Castle,' the 'Royal Mile,' the 'Palace of Holyrood house' all these existed but were just there. The same thing happened to me when spending a night in Bath, the town not the tub. A great deal of Bath is built in similar style to Georgian Edinburgh that I did not 'see' it, it was just there! It therefore surprised me one day to realise that Edinburgh is full of photo opportunities. Suddenly one day I noted the architecture was different from London, the sky bluer, at least one day a month when the clouds part to let it shine,and history was and is all around!
The 'Merkat Cross' pictured at the top is historical. In days of yore, when Scotland was as it should be independent, civic announcements were read out by the 'Herald' of the 'Lord Lyon King of Arms.' These were announcements concerning laws passed by the Scots Parliament situated on the further side of St Giles Kirk from the Merkat Cross itself. Today Parliamentary Elections are still announced by the Herald from this Merkat Cross. Proclamations, edicts, burnings and punishments were also carried out at the cross. In 1565 Sir James Tarbet was tied to the cross and pelted with eggs for saying the Mass which had been banned several years before. Murderers, rebels and outlaws were hanged, some after being broken before hand at the cross. Life for the criminal was not very kind in those days.
This Cross is a Victorian version of the original. That is thought to have originated in the late 1300's and stood out in the main thoroughfare, later it was moved to the side and in 1760's it was demolished. I suspect Sir Walter Scott while not responsible for the Cross was a guide and an encourager for those who wish to keep Scotland's history alive.
The 'Lord Lyon King of Arms' still today has an important job ensuring standards regarding er, standards are kept up. Recently several Scottish football clubs were informed that portions of their badges and crests infringed the law and were taking advice from the Lord Lyon regarding their legitimate appearance. He is not a man to be fooled with!
The drain seen at the side of the Close is also interesting, it would have in times past been very interesting as it would have flowed with excrement chucked out of the windows above. As I recall the emptying of pots was done at night, the cry of 'Gardyloo' being uttered as a warning to those slushing about in the Close below. As the closes on both sides of the High Street slope downwards the refuse would run away but not always taking everything with it. The rich lived high above leaving the stench to those down below. It is no wonder Scotland is more egalitarian than England and now wonder also we developed so many leading medical personnel!
It is not possible for anyone in this world not to have heard about Greyfriars Bobby, the dog who slept on his masters grave in the churchyard after he died. So therefore I will not mention this but I can say I have been in the pub behind a couple of times, very much a student pub in the 70's, I suspect it remains so still.