Castlehill Royal Mile
All About Edinburgh
Places to See
Things to Do
Castlehill Edinburgh is a short road that begins at the Castle Esplanade and ends at the Tolbooth Kirk. The gothic spire being the highest point in central Edinburgh constructed between 1842 and 1845, now the headquarters International Festival society. The other attractions in the street are the; Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, (One of the oldest tourist attractions in the city), Cannonball House, Its name derived from the cannonball embedded in the outside wall of the house. Witches Well, where over 300 witches were burned at the stake. No.1 Ramsay Lane the first Ragged School, The Scottish Whisky Experience, where you can see how whisky is made and try one of the many whiskies available. The Scottish Weaving Mill previously the reservoir for Edinburgh, now a retail outlet with the best selection of Scottish goods available, also see Tartan being made on the only working looms in the city. The All About Edinburgh books will guide you to all the places to see.
The site of the Witches Well is situated at the top of Castlehill on the west wall of The Tartan Weaving Mill where an iron wall fountain commemorates the place where over three hundred women were burned at the stake, accused of being witches in the 16th Century. There were more Witch burnings carried out at Castlehill than anywhere else in Europe.
Witches Well Plaque
This fountain, designed by John Duncan, R.S.A is near the site on which many witches were burned at the stake. The wicked head and serene head signify that some used their exceptional knowledge for evil purposes while others were misunderstood and wished their kind nothing but good. The serpent has the dual significance of evil and wisdom. The foxglove spray further emphasises the dual purpose of many common objects. The plaque was unveiled in 1894
Tartan Weaving Mill
This is an opportunity to see the full story of kilt making, from the wool on the sheep via the weaving of the tartan cloth to the making of the kilt. Try out the weaving loom for yourself, or dress up in ancient Scottish costume for a souvenir photograph. The picture on the left shows the Tartan Weaving Mill from Ramsay Garden, below a sword that would have been used at the time of William Wallace. See the armoury in the Tartan Weaving Mill.
Can you spot the cannon ball embedded in the wall. The story is that the cannon ball was carefully placed here by engineers to mark the height above sea-level of the fresh springs which provided Edinburgh with its first piped supply of fresh water, in about 1621. The cannon ball can be seen embedded in the wall above the first-floor window in Castle Wynd North. On the opposite side where the Tartan Weaving Mill is now, was the site of a reservoir that served the well heads in the old town of Edinburgh. In 1991 the reservoir was no longer required and is now conserved as the Edinburgh Tartan Weaving Mill.
The cannonball embedded in the wall can be seen from the steps that go down to Johnstone Terrace from Castlehill. Legend has it that in 1745 the castle garrison fired the cannon ball at Bonnie Prince Charlie’s encampment at Dunsapie Loch but missed and hit the house.
Patrick Geddes (1854 – 1932) was an Educator, Conservationist, Town Planner, Philosopher, Sociologist, Biologist, Botanist and Ecologist. Born in Ballater, Royal Deeside. The Edinburgh Patrick Geddes Heritage Trail was produced by the Sir Patrick Geddes Memorial Trust in the year 2000. You can you can find out more from the Patrick Geddes Trust.
Castle Wynd North Steps
Castle Wynd North Royal Mile Castlehill Edinburgh is a set of steps with housing on the east side that begins at Castlehill next to the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade and ends in Johnston Terrace Edinburgh. The House at the top of Castle Wynd North is Cannonball House which has survived through 3 sieges of Edinburgh Castle in 1650 by Cromwell, in 1689 by William of Orange and by the rebel Jacobite Army in 1745, when General Preston shot Cannon from the Half moon battery at the rebels a cannonball lodge in the wall and remains there to this day. At the foot of the steps directly across the road (Johnston Terrace) is Castle Wynd South steps which ends at the Grassmarket a pedestrian precinct with bars, restaurants and shops.
Castle Wynd South
(Patrick Geddes Steps)
Castle Wynd South below is looking up the steps from the Grassmarket to Johnstone Terrace.
Skinner’s Close was the originally Built by the Incorporation of Skinner’s and Furriers and a William Brown Skinner had a house in the close. It was also the site of Fortunes tavern before moving Old Stamp Office Close then to Nicholson Square and finally to St Andrew’s Square. Fortune’s Tavern was a place for the well-heeled and gentlemen of Edinburgh. This close was demolished to make way for the present building the Camera Obscura circa 1850
Semple’s Close was named after the owner Lords Semple of Castle Semple (SEMPILL). The mansion was originally built for Lady Semple in 1638. Lord Hugh Semple Purchase a property next door to increase the size of his present residence in 1743. A military officer, Major in the Cameronians, Commander of the Black Watch and Colonel of the Edinburgh Regiment and commanded the left wing of the Hanoverian Army at Culloden. Inscription above door of Semple’s Mansion PRAISED BE THE LORD, MY GOD, MY STRENTH & MY REDEEMER ANNO DOM 1638.
Castlehill Camera Obscura
World of Illusion.
The Camera Obscura (Outlook Tower was one of the original tourist attractions in 1850s Edinburgh, the first attraction being the Walter Scott Monument. The Camera Obscura gives an amazing live panoramic view of the city of Edinburgh. See the people in Edinburgh walking about the streets below and pick them up in your hand. The telescopes let you view amazing rooftop views of the city. It was named the Outlook Tower in 1892. Take a walk around the outside walkway at the top of the Tower for more amazing views.
Boswell Court Castlehill is the site of the famous Witchery Restaurant and Lodging. Named after Dr Boswell the owner circa 1690 and previously known as Lowthian’s Land , but it is said that the Earl of Boswell also resided here. What can be seen on a lintel over a door in the close is the inscription “O LORD IN THE IS AL MI TRAIST”
Jollie’s Close named after the land and building in Castlehill owned by Patrick Jollie, and later by Alexander Jollie who was a writer in 1859. Now part of the Witchery hotel apartments which is based in Boswell’s Court Castlehill.
Castlehill Royal Mile
Palace and Chapel
Mary of Guise
The first building you will walk past on the Castehill is the site where Mary of Guise had her Palace (pictured).
Mary of Guise was the daughter of Antoinette of Bourbon and Claud Count of Guise. Mary of Guise married King James V in 1538. They had a daughter born in Linlithgow Palace in 1542 and at a week old became the Queen of Scotland on her father’s death. Her name was Mary. (Mary Queen of Scots).The building was also used as the Scottish Parliament in 1990s. Marie de Guise died in June 1560. The English and French, agreed the Treaty of Edinburgh. The military forces of both withdrew from Scotland which allowed the Scottish people to govern themselves. A Scottish Parliament was formed in Edinburgh on 10 July 1560, attended by 14 Earls, 6 Bishops, 19 Lords, 21 Abbots, 22 Burgh Commissioners, and over 100 Lairds. On the 24 August the Scottish parliament passed a series of Acts that entirely destroyed the Roman Church in Scotland. The celebration of mass was made illegal and was punishable by many things including death.
Palace and Chapel
Mary of Guise
First Ragged School in Scotland
Ramsay Lane Castlehill was the site of the first Ragged School in Scotland. It was founded by Dr Thomas Guthrie in 1847. Ragged Schools were free education for poor and homeless children. There is a Ragged School museum in London. THE SCULPTURED BIBLE above the door of 1 Ramsay Lane is inscribed with the words. “search the scriptures” “ST JOHN V S V 39”
The Sculptured Bible
Above the Door of the
First Ragged School
The bible above the door is inscribed with the words “search the scriptures”
“ST JOHN V S V 39”
Walking down Ramsay Lane towards the Mound. A stone built into the wall can be seen. This is a marriage stone where the two sets of initials of the betrothed and the date of the marriage were set in stone on the walls of their home. An old Scottish custom.
Royal Mile Ramsay Garden
Ramsay Lane Edinburgh
Ramsay Garden Castlehill where Ramsay Lodge stands. The house where Allan Ramsay the poet built his house and lived in 1740. Over time he extended it to what you see now. The original house was octagonal in shape and it earned the ridicule of the gentry as they called it Guse Pie. Now known as the Goose Pie Hat. After his death the property was later developed into 16 houses for student accommodation with a magnificent view of New Town Edinburgh. The houses are now private residence.
Ramsay Garden Now
The Ramsay Garden houses are a prominent feature of Edinburgh with their red ashlars and white exteriors and were first built by Alan Ramsay in 1733. Can you see the Devil on the hot tin roof? Allan Ramsay’s original Goose pie octagonal shaped house can be found in the centre looking up from Princes Street. The original Lodge is the highest point on the building.
The sculpture on the roof of Ramsay Garden was one of three that were originally placed on the three main gable ends, a devil, an angel finial and a sphinx. The Devil remains.
Castlehill Royal Mile
Highland Kirk The Hub
The International Festival HQ stands at the foot of Castlehill and at the top of the Lawnmarket. The Hub’s spire is the highest point in central Edinburgh. The building was constructed around 1845 as the Victoria Hall to house the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. In 1929 the Church of Scotland ceased to use the building and it became a temporary home for a variety of congregations. It was named the Highland Tolbooth and then St John’s Church in 1956 and finally closed in the early part of the 1980s. In 1999 the building was transformed into The Hub, offices and a performance space for the Edinburgh International Festival.
The Scotch Whisky Experience
Castlehill School Edinburgh
Castle hill Primary School opened in 1889 and is now closed as a school. The front of the school can be seen from Johnston Terrace Edinburgh. The building now houses The Scottish Whisky Experience which is entered from the Castlehill across from Ramsay Lane. The Scottish Whisky Experience tells the story of the history of whisky making, from the stills in the hills to the world wide industry of today. See possibly the world’s largest collection of Scotch whisky and the chance to taste the nectar of Scotland. The whisky experts will help you find the ideal whiskies for your individual taste in the McIntyre whisky gallery. There is also a chance to shop for the whisky you love. No driving afterwards. Tasting over 18 years of age only).