Royal Mile

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Coordinates: 55°57′02″N3°11′08″W / 55.95056°N 3.18556°W / 55.95056; -3.18556

Geographic coordinate system Coordinate system

A geographic coordinate system is a coordinate system that enables every location on Earth to be specified by a set of numbers, letters or symbols. The coordinates are often chosen such that one of the numbers represents a vertical position and two or three of the numbers represent a horizontal position; alternatively, a geographic position may be expressed in a combined three-dimensional Cartesian vector. A common choice of coordinates is latitude, longitude and elevation. To specify a location on a plane requires a map projection.

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View looking east down the Royal Mile past the old Tron Kirk High Street, Edinburgh.JPG
View looking east down the Royal Mile past the old Tron Kirk

The Royal Mile is a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. The term was first used descriptively in W M Gilbert's Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century (1901), "...with its Castle and Palace and the royal mile between", and was further popularised as the title of a guidebook, published in 1920. [1]

Old Town, Edinburgh name popularly given to the oldest part of Scotlands capital city of Edinburgh

The Old Town is the name popularly given to the oldest part of Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh. The area has preserved much of its medieval street plan and many Reformation-era buildings. Together with the 18th/19th-century New Town, it forms part of a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Edinburgh Capital city in Scotland

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian, it is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore.

Scotland Country in Northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain, with a border with England to the southeast, and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

From the Castle gates to the Palace gates the street is almost exactly a mile (1.6 km) long and runs downhill between two significant locations in the royal history of Scotland, namely Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, hence its name. The streets which make up the Royal Mile are (west to east) Castlehill, the Lawnmarket, the High Street, the Canongate and Abbey Strand. The Royal Mile is the busiest tourist street in the Old Town, rivalled only by Princes Street in the New Town.

History of Scotland history of the area now known as Scotland

The recorded history of Scotland begins with the arrival of the Roman Empire in the 1st century, when the province of Britannia reached as far north as the Antonine Wall. North of this was Caledonia, inhabited by the Picti, whose uprisings forced Rome's legions back to Hadrian's Wall. As Rome finally withdrew from Britain, Gaelic raiders called the Scoti began colonising Western Scotland and Wales. Prior to Roman times, prehistoric Scotland entered the Neolithic Era about 4000 BC, the Bronze Age about 2000 BC, and the Iron Age around 700 BC.

Edinburgh Castle castle in Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, from its position on the Castle Rock. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age, although the nature of the early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued at times to be a royal residence until 1633. From the 15th century the castle's residential role declined, and by the 17th century it was principally used as military barracks with a large garrison. Its importance as a part of Scotland's national heritage was recognised increasingly from the early 19th century onwards, and various restoration programmes have been carried out over the past century and a half. As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite rising of 1745. Research undertaken in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1100-year-old history, giving it a claim to having been "the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world".

Holyrood Palace official residence of the British monarch in Scotland

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, Queen Elizabeth II. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, and is a setting for state occasions and official entertaining.

Video of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Geography

Retreating ice sheets, many millennia ago, deposited their glacial debris behind the hard volcanic plug of the castle rock on which Edinburgh Castle stands, resulting in a distinctive crag and tail formation. Running eastwards from the crag on which the castle sits, the Royal Mile sits upon the ridge of the tail which slopes gently down to Holyrood Palace. Steep closes (or alleyways) run between the many tall lands (or tenement buildings) off the main thoroughfare. The route runs from an elevation of 42 metres (138 ft) above sea level at the palace to 109 metres (358 ft) at the castle, giving an average gradient of 4.1%.

Volcanic plug Volcanic object created when magma hardens within a vent on an active volcano

A volcanic plug, also called a volcanic neck or lava neck, is a volcanic object created when magma hardens within a vent on an active volcano. When present, a plug can cause an extreme build-up of pressure if rising volatile-charged magma is trapped beneath it, and this can sometimes lead to an explosive eruption. Glacial erosion can lead to exposure of the plug on one side, while a long slope of material remains on the opposite side. Such landforms are called crag and tail. If a plug is preserved, erosion may remove the surrounding rock while the erosion-resistant plug remains, producing a distinctive upstanding landform.

Crag and tail rock formation

A crag is a rocky hill or mountain, generally isolated from other high ground.

Apartment self-contained housing unit occupying part of a building

An apartment, flat or unit is a self-contained housing unit that occupies only part of a building, generally on a single storey. There are many names for these overall buildings, see below. The housing tenure of apartments also varies considerably, from large-scale public housing, to owner occupancy within what is legally a condominium, to tenants renting from a private landlord.

Castle Esplanade and Castlehill

Castlehill forming part of the Royal Mile. The former Victorian church houses The Hub, an information service for the Edinburgh International Festival. On the right is The Scotch Whisky Experience and on the left the Camera Obscura tower and shops. The Royal Mile, Edinburgh - High Resoultion.jpg
Castlehill forming part of the Royal Mile. The former Victorian church houses The Hub, an information service for the Edinburgh International Festival. On the right is The Scotch Whisky Experience and on the left the Camera Obscura tower and shops.

The Castle Esplanade was laid out as a parade ground, in 1753, using spoil from the building of the Royal Exchange (now the City Chambers). It was formalised in 1816 when it was widened and provided with decorative railings and walls. The Esplanade with its several monuments has been A-listed by Historic Scotland. [2] It is the venue of the annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo at which time specially designed temporary grandstands are erected. Cannonball House has a cannonball lodged in the wall, often said to have been accidentally fired from the Castle but which actually marks the elevation of Comiston Springs, three miles to the south of the Castle, which fed a cistern on Castlehill, one of the first piped water supplies in Scotland. [3]

Edinburgh City Chambers city hall in City of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Edinburgh City Chambers in Edinburgh, Scotland, is the meeting place of the City of Edinburgh Council and its predecessors Edinburgh Corporation and Edinburgh District Council.

Historic Scotland executive agency responsible for historic monuments in Scotland

Historic Scotland was an executive agency of the Scottish Office and later the Scottish Government from 1991 to 2015, responsible for safeguarding Scotland's built heritage, and promoting its understanding and enjoyment. Under the terms of a Bill of the Scottish Parliament published on 3 March 2014, Historic Scotland was dissolved and its functions were transferred to Historic Environment Scotland (HES) on 1 October 2015. HES also took over the functions of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Grandstand large and normally permanent structure for seating spectators

A grandstand is a large and normally permanent structure for seating spectators, most often at a racetrack. This includes both auto racing and horse racing. The grandstand is in essence like a single section of a stadium, but differs from a stadium in that it does not wrap all or most of the way around. Grandstands may have basic bench seating, but usually have individual chairs like a stadium. Grandstands are also usually covered with a roof, but are open on the front. They are often multi-tiered.

From the Castle Esplanade, the short section of road entitled Castlehill is dominated by the former Tolbooth-Highland-St John's Church (on the south side at the foot of this section), now the headquarters of the Edinburgh International Festival society - The Hub, and on the north side by the Outlook Tower and Camera Obscura. The Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland and New College are further down on the same side. The Scottish Parliament met in the Assembly Hall between 1999 and 2004.

Edinburgh International Festival an annual festival of performing arts

The Edinburgh International Festival is an annual festival of performing arts in Edinburgh, Scotland, over three weeks in August. By invitation from the Festival Director, the International Festival brings top class performers of music, theatre, opera and dance from around the world to perform. The festival also hosts a series of visual art exhibitions, talks and workshops.

General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland multi-purpose venue in Edinburgh, Scotland

The Assembly Hall is located between the Lawnmarket and The Mound in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is the meeting place of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Church of Scotland national church of Scotland

The Church of Scotland, also known by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is the national church of Scotland. It is Presbyterian and adheres to the Bible and Westminster Confession; the Church of Scotland celebrates two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, as well as five other rites, such as confirmation and matrimony. It is a member of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

Lawnmarket

The Lawnmarket is a separately named part of the High Street. Addresses are a continuation of the High Street numbers. It runs from the West Bow to St Giles Cathedral.

A charter of 1477 designated this part of the High Street as the market-place for what was called "inland merchandise" - items such as yarn, stockings, coarse cloth and other similar articles. In later years, linen was the main product sold. As a result, it became known as the Land Market [4] which was later corrupted to Lawn Market. [5] [6]

Today, the majority of shops in the street are aimed at tourists. On the north side is the preserved 17th century merchant's townhouse Gladstone's Land owned by the National Trust for Scotland. The lower end of the Lawnmarket is intersected by George IV Bridge on the right (south) and Bank Street on the left (north), leading to The Mound and the New Town. The view down Bank Street is closed by the baroque headquarters of the Bank of Scotland.

On the south-west corner of this intersection, with its entrance on George IV Bridge, is a new hotel, replacing the former Lothian Regional Council offices. This building is of controversial design winning both best building awards and "carbuncle" awards in 2009/10.

Between Bank Street and St Giles Street, marking the end of the Lawnmarket, the High Court of Justiciary, Scotland's supreme criminal court, is housed in what was formerly the Sheriff Court.

High Street

Looking down the High Street towards the Tron Kirk, the section rebuilt in 1828 following the Great Fire of Edinburgh (1824). The High Street, Edinburgh.JPG
Looking down the High Street towards the Tron Kirk, the section rebuilt in 1828 following the Great Fire of Edinburgh (1824).

On the south side, about one-third of the way down from the Castle toward the Palace is Parliament Square, named after the old Parliament House which housed both the law courts and the old Parliament of Scotland between the 1630s and 1707 (when its existence was ended by the Act of Union) Parliament House now houses the Court of Session, Scotland's supreme civil court. St Giles' Cathedral, the High Kirk of Edinburgh, also stands in Parliament Square.

By the West Door of St Giles' is the Heart of Midlothian, a heart-shaped pattern built into the "setted" road, marking the site of the Old Tolbooth, formerly the centre of administration, taxation and justice in the burgh. The prison was described by Sir Walter Scott as the "Heart of Midlothian", and soon after demolition the city fathers marked the site with a heart mosaic. Locals have traditionally spat upon the heart's centre as a sign of contempt for the prison. On the north side, opposite St Giles', stand Edinburgh City Chambers, where the City of Edinburgh Council meets. On the south side, just past the High Kirk, is the Mercat Cross from which royal proclamations are read and the summoning of Parliament announced.

The Heart of Midlothian Heart of Midlothian and brass marker.jpg
The Heart of Midlothian

The whole south side of buildings from St Giles to the Tron Kirk had to be rebuilt or refaced in the 1820s following the Great Edinburgh Fire of 1824. This was done in a Georgian style, stepping down the hill.

The central focus of the Royal Mile is a major intersection with the Bridges. North Bridge runs north over Waverley station to the New Town's Princes Street. South Bridge (which appears at street level to be simply a road with shops on either side—only one arch is visible from below) spans the Cowgate to the south, a street in a hollow below, and continues as Nicolson Street past the Old College building of the University of Edinburgh.

Tablet marking the site of the Netherbow Port Netherbow tablet in the High Street, Edinburgh.jpg
Tablet marking the site of the Netherbow Port

At John Knox's House the High Street narrows to a section of the street formerly known as the Netherbow, which, at its crossroads with Jeffrey Street (north) and St Mary's Street (south), marked the former city boundary. At this point stood the Netherbow Port, a fortified gateway between Edinburgh and the Canongate (until 1856 a separate burgh), which was removed in 1764 to improve traffic flow. The recently rebuilt Netherbow Theatre is owned by the Church of Scotland and houses the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Following the English victory over the Scots at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, a city wall was built around Edinburgh known as the Flodden Wall, some parts of which survive. The Netherbow Port was a gateway in this wall and brass studs in the road mark its former position. On the corner of St Mary's Street is the World's End Pub which takes its name from the adjacent World's End Close, whimsically so named because this was in former times the last close in Edinburgh before entering the Canongate. [7] [8]

Canongate

Anchor Close at twilight looking towards Cockburn Street from the Royal Mile. Anchor-close.jpg
Anchor Close at twilight looking towards Cockburn Street from the Royal Mile.

Beyond the crossroads, the Royal Mile continues down the Canongate, meaning literally "the canons' way" when it was used in former times by the Augustinian canons of Holyrood Abbey. [9] The street continues downhill past Moray House (now the main academic offices of Moray House School of Education of the University of Edinburgh), the Canongate Tolbooth (now a museum of social history called The People's Story), the Kirk of the Canongate (the Canongate's parish church and a thriving congregation of the Church of Scotland) and the new Scottish Parliament Building to Holyrood Palace and the ruined abbey. Until 1856 the Canongate was not merely a street, but the name of the surrounding burgh, separate from Edinburgh and outside the Flodden Wall.

At the end of Canongate we can find Cranston House, a building, which housed the Cranston Christian Institute, becoming the Edinburgh School of English in 1990. The school teaches English as a second language and every year hundreds of students from different nationalities attend lessons there. Nowadays the school programme is available all year round for both adults and young people giving the opportunity to everyone to learn English, no matter what level they are.


Abbey Strand

This street is the short approach to Holyrood Palace at the foot of the Canongate. One of the buildings on the north side was the house of Lucky Spence, a notorious brothel madam, remembered in Allan Ramsay's poem, Lucky Spence's Last Advice. [10] On the south side is the Queen's Gallery, used to exhibit items in the Royal collection, in the shell of the former Holyrood Free Church and Duchess of Gordon's School. There are also the remains of the gatehouse of Holyrood Palace built by James IV, with a copy of the royal coat-of-arms of James V set in the wall.

Royal Mile today

Today, the Royal Mile is an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, pubs and visitor attractions. During the annual Edinburgh Festival, the High Street becomes crowded with tourists, entertainers and buskers. Parliament Square is at the heart of Scotland's legal system, being the home of both the High Court of Justiciary and the Court of Session.[ citation needed ]

The Royal Mile features a number of shops owned by the company Gold Brothers, including Heritage of Scotland, The Scotland Shop, Heritage of Clearance, The Wee Scotland Shop, Dunedin and John Morrison's Kiltmakers. The company was fined for 'misleading' customers by claiming the products imported from China were 'made in Scotland'. [11]

See also

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References

  1. Harris, Stuart (2002). The Place Names of Edinburgh. London: Steve Savage. p. 497. ISBN   1 904246 06 0--The guidebook was R T Skinner's, From the Castle to Holyrood - "The Royal Mile"
  2. "Edinburgh Castle, Esplanade, Edinburgh" . Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  3. "Civil Engineering Heritage..." Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  4. "City and castle of Edinburgh, William Edgar, 1765". Town Plans / Views, 1580-1919. National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  5. "The Derivation of Edinburgh's Street Names" . Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  6. "City of Edinburgh, John Ainslie, 1780". Town Plans / Views, 1580-1919. National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  7. "The Derivation of Edinburgh's Street Names". Archived from the original on 8 August 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  8. "Edinburgh High Street, World's End Close" . Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  9. "The Derivation of Edinburgh's Street Names". Archived from the original on 8 August 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  10. "Broadside ballad entitled 'Lucky Spence's Last Advice'" . Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  11. "Fine over Made in Scotland claim". 17 January 2011 via www.bbc.co.uk.