Historic Edinburgh Graveyards
Edinburgh graveyards are fascinating places to visit. You can learn about the lives people led hundreds of years ago from their gravestones. Old Calton Burial Ground was first used in 1718. People buried there include famous philosopher David Hume and scientist John Playfair. The Political Martyrs Monument sits in the burial ground, and you can see it from many viewpoints around Edinburgh. A small part of this old burial ground is directly at the rear of our hotel, so it’s actually part of our back garden! When the road was built on Waterloo Place in the 19th century, they cut through the existing graveyard and moved the graves to the New Calton Burial Ground.
New Calton Burial Ground lies only half a mile away. Don’t be fooled by its name, however – the first burial here was in 1817. It contains the remains of many notable people, including author Robert Louis Stevenson. This graveyard also offers picturesque views across to Arthur’s Seat, making it a magnificent place to wander.
The Evolution of Edinburgh’s Graveyards
At the other end of Princes Street sits St. Cuthbert’s Churchyard. On this site, you will find a fascinating history of how a cemetery grows with its city. For example, with the development of Waverley station, many graves were removed in 1841 to make space for trains. Some graves even sit under Lothian Road itself.
Dog Graves of Edinburgh
A wonderful burial ground to explore is Greyfriars Kirkyard. Some gravestones still exist from its opening in 1580. At the south end of the site you can get up close to some of the most interesting stones, some showing the most exquisite carving.
Many visitors looking for places to visit in Edinburgh come because of Greyfriar’s Bobby. In the 1800s, the legend goes that this little dog slept on his master’s grave for 13 years. A statue and specially commissioned gravestone commemorates his loyalty.
Finally, an historic grave that you may not have thought to visit sits within the walls of Edinburgh Castle. Since 1840, a dog cemetery for VIPs (Very Important Puppies of course!) has been hidden in a corner of the castle grounds. Although you can only view it from above, dogs such as regimental mascots or honoured dogs belonging to high-ranking soldiers were buried honourably here. This is only one of two such cemeteries in the whole of Scotland.
Spending a day touring Edinburgh’s Historic Graves
Edinburgh graveyards like Old Calton Burial Ground and Greyfriars Kirk are a great way to learn about the city’s past. Best of all, they are located within walking distance to each other. It’s a great way to spend the day as you never know what you might learn next!