Heart of Midlothian, Edinburgh

Heart of Midlothian, Edinburgh

While you are exploring the Royal Mile in Edinburgh you might see some of the locals taking part in a rather disgusting ritual as they pass one spot near the west door of St Giles Cathedral. Drawing closer, but being careful to keep out of range, you will see that they are spitting on the Heart of Midlothian.

This is a heart-shaped mosaic set in the cobbled-stone pavement, marking the entrance of a building that was demolished 195 years ago, but which still remains in the memories of the people who grew up in the area, which is why they spit – for good luck.

The building was the Old Tolbooth, which was a medieval customs house, also used for meetings by the Estates of Scotland for a short time. In 1640 it housed the Court of Session the principal jail of the burgh, where prisoners were often tortured before being taken out for public execution in front of the entrance.

According to legend, Edinburgh’s petty thieves and not-so-petty criminals spat on the door as they passed to bring them luck against the day when they found themselves being taken through it.

The building was demolished in 1817 and the heart set into the cobble stones to remind the population of the misery and torture carried out behind the ancient walls.

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of Edinburgh, Scotland within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Heart of Midlothian on Map

Sight Name: Heart of Midlothian
Sight Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) containing this sight: Royal Mile Walking Tour  

Walking Tours in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km

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