Saturday, 29 August 2009

Edinburugh, Scotland


I had a miniature stopover in Edinburgh in April before my Easter Scotland tour and thought it was so nice that I might go back. So this weekend I hoped in an overnight coach and headed on up.

I got to Edinburgh - Edinburgh is the
capital city of Scotland, a position it has held since 1437 -around 8am on Saturday morning where I was greeted by a friend, Casey, who lives there that I meet on my Scotland tour. We had breakfast in an all American dinner before unloading my stuff back at hers and headed into town. We walked past The Elephant Cafe - which is the birthplace of Harry Potter. JK used to spent her days here writing Harry Potter looking out the back window looking at a fancy pants private school and Edinburugh Castle.

- Me outside the Elephant Cafe

The month of August was an excellent time to visit Edinburgh as the Fringe festival and Edinburgh Tattoo was in full swing. On Saturday we spent most of the day watching street performers, skits and walking down the high street. After my falling asleep during a skit we decided to walk back to hers (I love that you can walk everywhere there) and have a nap.

On Sunday I decided to do a free walking tour of the city. It was really good and because our guide was so enthused in the history it lasted four hours (it was only supposed to be there). It was really interesting and I learnt so much about the history of Edinburugh.
Look who I found in Blackfriars cemetry - there is also a McGonogal - nout sure about the other characters

Heart of Midlothian

The heart-shaped design of the cobble stones near St Giles Cathedral marks where the entrance to the Tolbooth used to be located. The Tolbooth was originally set up in 1561, as the name implies, to collect tolls but also became used as a prison after 1640. There was also a scaffold for hanging criminals (and others) and the heads of the more famous victims would be displayed on spikes in the face of the building. The Tolbooth was demolished in 1817.

Perhaps as a sign of disrespect to the town council, it became common for passsers-by to spit on the cobble stone design. While this is not encouraged these days, it is wise to give the emblem a wide berth when walking past - just in case!

After the tour I quickly rushed up to the castle for a look around. The castle is pretty much the same as a lot of other castles I have been to. It does hold the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny ... woooooo

- Me with the castle in the background

The Stone of Destiny

Our tour guide had great fun telling us about the Stone of Destiny and because she was an excellent guide we got a reinactment of it all as well but basically - The Stone of Scone/Destiny is an oblong block of red sandstone. It was used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland, the monarchs of England, and, more recently, British monarchs.

In 1296 the Stone was captured by
Edward I as spoils of war and taken to Westminster Abbey, where it was fitted into the coronation chair.

In 1328, in the peace talks between the
Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England, Edward III is said to have agreed to return the captured Stone to Scotland. However, this did not form part of the Treaty of Northampton. The Stone was to remain in England for another six centuries.

So …

On Christmas Day 1950, a group of four Scottish students stole the Stone from Westminster Abbey for return to Scotland. In the process of removing it from the Abbey, the students broke the stone into two pieces. Once the police realized the stone was stolen they launched a massive man/car hut so the boys hid the greater part of the stone with gypsies in Kent for a few days, they risked the road blocks on the border and returned to Scotland with this piece, which they had hidden in the back of a borrowed car.
The smaller piece was similarly brought north a little while later. This journey involved a break in Leeds, where a group of sympathetic students and graduates took the fragment to Ilkley Moor for an overnight stay, accompanied by renditions of "On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at." –

A major search for the stone had been ordered by the
British Government, but this proved unsuccessful.
Perhaps assuming that the Church would not return it to England, the stone's custodians left it on the altar of
Arbroath Abbey,. Once the London police were informed of its whereabouts, the Stone was returned to Westminster.

In 1996, in a symbolic response to growing dissatisfaction among Scots at the prevailing constitutional settlement, the British Conservative Government decided that the Stone should be kept in Scotland when not in use at coronations. On 3 July 1996 it was announced in the House of Commons that the Stone would be returned to Scotland, and on 15 November 1996, after a handover ceremony at the border between representatives of the
Home Office and of the Scottish Office, it was transported to Edinburgh Castle arriving on 30 November 1996 where it remains.
After the castle I met Casey for some more street performer watching before heading home to rest my dreary feet (over 7 hours of walking/standing, phew, more exercise than I do in one week). That night we bundled up (its cold up there!) and headed into town for a ghost tour of the city (more walking) the tour was ok, there were two many of us to be scary, but it was an alright tour, not sure I would recommend it though.
See my ghost "orb"
My trip was over on Monday and I headed on back down to London.

It was a nice trip and glad I got back up to see Edinburgh again.


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