Auld Reekie

The Good Lady and I had a few days in Edinburgh.


From the roof of the National Museum of Scotland – the castle on the left.

extinct giant elk

It must have been harsh around here at the close of the Ice Age. This is from a bog in Fife (where you needs must sup wi’ a lang spoon).

An old prophet gives it some welly. Perhaps Ezekiel – I forgot to make a note.

But Amida is nae bothered.

Pictish stone

According to this, the Picts liked a wee tipple.

Greyfriars Bobby

Close by the museum we paid homage to this staunch little chap.

Greyfriars kirkyard.

According to Wikipedia the ‘traditional story’ has it that:Bobby belonged to John Gray, who worked for the Edinburgh City Police as a night watchman, and the two were inseparable for approximately two years.[1] On 8 February 1858, Gray died of tuberculosis. He was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, the graveyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Bobby, who survived Gray by fourteen years, is said to have spent the rest of his life sitting on his master’s grave. Another account[citation needed] has it that he spent a great deal of time at Gray’s grave, but that he left regularly for meals at a restaurant beside the graveyard, and may have spent colder winters in nearby houses.

In 1867, when it was argued that a dog without an owner should be destroyed, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir William Chambers—who was also a director of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—paid for Bobby’s license, making him the responsibility of the city council.

Bobby died in 1872 and could not be buried within the cemetery itself, since it was and remains consecrated ground. He was buried instead just inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard, not far from John Gray’s grave.
Bobby spent his last years in this grim kirkyard.

The grave of Bobby’s master and on the right the grave of the man who cared for Bobby as he kept vigil.

The Flodden Wall

The Flodden Wall skirts one side of the kirkyard, it was thrown up as defence after the defeat at Flodden. But the Earl of Surrey did not march north – read all about it in my novel ‘Tom Fleck’.

Royal Mile

Meanwhile, in the Royal Mile, all is draped in tartan.


And, if you stand still, young ladies leave lipstick on your cheek.
You’d hardly know that the great philosopher, Hume, lived in this street (in 1730). He who brought on the enlightenment and changed the thinking of the people of the West – well a few of them, anyway.

About Harry Nicholson

I'm an enameller who works with a kiln, fusing pictures in glass onto copper. I write a few poems and short stories. There is an eBook anthology of them, 'Green Linnet' on Amazon. Also a novel, 'Tom Fleck', set in the North of England of 1513 - the year of Flodden. A sequel to 'Tom Fleck' is 'The Black Caravel' published in 2016. My anthology of poems came out in 2015: 'Wandering About.' I've a blog of poems, stories and art at:
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13 Responses to Auld Reekie

  1. Ina says:

    My father told me the story of Bobby years ago, and although it is a great example of the loyalty of dogs have for their bosses, it is so sad really. Poor dog. Beautifull pictures! Thanks for the tour. 🙂

  2. Tilly Bud says:

    My son’s Reception class came out bawling after being told the story of GB. Thirty crying five year olds. I’ve never seen anything like it.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    That mannequin looks displeased at having been kissed! Glad you had such a great time, Harry. x

  4. Ruth says:

    Loved the extinct giant elk skeleton, and just read your description (in comment) – a giant of an elk indeed. Your museum pics make me long to get to Edinburgh to see its wonders in person.

    • It is a fine city. I go there each Autumn to attend a workshop of The Guild of Enamellers; this year, one of my pieces was sold straight off the work bench . . . that is always reassuring. Some of my work is on the enamel gallery page of this blog.

  5. Enjoyed this tour!

    I have always loved the story of Greyfriars Bobby.


  6. Susannah says:

    Wonderful photos Harry, great commentary too! 🙂

    How big was the extinct giant elk?

    Good to see you at I Saw Sunday.

    • A pity there are none roaming the earth today – perhaps there would be, if we had stayed in Eden.

      Megaloceros giganteus first appeared about 400,000 years ago. It possibly evolved from M. antecedens. The earlier taxon — sometimes considered a paleosubspecies M. giganteus antecedens — is similar but had more complex and compact antlers.

      The Irish Elk stood about 2.1 metres (6.9 ft) tall at the shoulders, and it had the largest antlers of any known cervid (a maximum of 3.65 m (12.0 ft) from tip to tip and weighing up to 40 kilograms (88 lb)). In body size, the Irish Elk matched the extant moose subspecies of Alaska (Alces alces gigas) as the largest known deer.[4] A significant collection of M. giganteus skeletons can be found at the Natural History Museum in Dublin.

      It should be noted that the Irish Elk does not in any way directly correspond to any living species today, including even the Alaskan moose or North American elk. It is taxonomically a giant and completely extinct deer.[UCMP Berkeley 1]

  7. earlybird says:

    Thank you for the story of Greyfriars Bobby, Harry.

  8. 1sojournal says:

    I love reading your posts Harry. Always something to learn from the stories behind your photos.


  9. vivinfrance says:

    Does Beryl know you call her the good lady?

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