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Heart of Midlothian, Edinburgh

Heart of Midlothian, Edinburgh

While exploring the Royal Mile, you might see some of the locals partake in a rather bizarre, if not disgusting, ritual when passing a spot near the west door of St Giles Cathedral. As you draw closer, be careful to keep out of range, as you will see them spit on the Heart of Midlothian.

This heart-shaped mosaic, set in the cobbled-stone pavement, marks the entrance to the building that was demolished in 1817, but still stays in the memories of the people who grew up in the area. They spit here for good luck.

The building was the Old Tolbooth, a medieval customs house, which was also used for meetings by the Estates of Scotland for a short period. In 1640 it housed the Court of Session, the principal jail of the burgh, where prisoners were often tortured prior to 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.

Two centuries on, with the building gone, the heart in the cobble stones still reminds of the misery and torture carried out behind its 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:

Walking Tours in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles

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