NT2573 : Heart of Midlothian

taken 11 years ago, near to Edinburgh, Great Britain

This is 1 of 2 images, with title Heart of Midlothian in this square
Heart of Midlothian
Heart of Midlothian
Design in setts marking the spot where the Tolbooth stood in the High Street of Edinburgh. This was where tolls were paid and a bell was rung to announce the start of street market trading, a civic meeting or curfew. One part of the building also served as a prison, giving rise to the custom, continued by some Edinburgh citizens today, of spitting on the spot. It has been suggested that released prisoners, i.e. mainly debtors, formerly spat on the ground as they left the building. Brass markers on a pavement kerb about 40 yards further up the street mark the site of a later gallows. Sir Walter Scott used the Tolbooth's nickname as the title of his famous novel. Its position caused the High Street to narrow to only 14 feet at this point, resulting in congestion; hence the building's demolition in 1817. LinkExternal link

In one version of the ballad of Mary Hamilton, Mary is invited to Edinburgh believing she is going to attend a wedding, but it turns out to be her place of execution.

When she gaed up the tolbooth stairs,
The corks frae her heels did flee;
And lang or e'er she cam down again,
She was condemn'd to die.

When she cam to the Netherbow port,
She laugh'd loud laughters three;
But when she came to the gallows foot
The tears blinded her e'e.

Yestreen the Queen had four Maries,
The nicht she'll hae but three;
There was Mary Seaton, and Mary Beaton,
And Mary Carmichael, and me.

NT2573 : Site of the Lawnmarket gallows

NT2673 : Model of the Edinburgh Tolbooth
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright kim traynor and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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NT2573, 5645 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Tuesday, 19 May, 2009   (more nearby)
Friday, 29 May, 2009
Geographical Context
City, Town centre  Historic sites and artefacts 
Street design   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NT 256 735 [100m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.9745N 3:11.4903W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NT 256 735
View Direction
WEST (about 270 degrees)
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