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 Saint 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.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Edinburgh. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. 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 (See walking tours in Edinburgh)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Royal Mile Walking Tour

Royal Mile Walking Tour

The Royal Mile, a steep thoroughfare in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, is one of the city's busiest tourist destinations. It runs down a slope, from the famed Edinburgh Castle to Holyroodhouse Palace and the ruined Holyrood Abbey, for almost exactly a mile and thus got its name, coined in 1920. The succession of streets forming the Royal Mile is lined with numerous shops, pubs,...  view more

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

New Town Walking Tour

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One of the prominent landmarks in the New Town is...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Old Town Walking Tour

Old Town Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Edinburgh Introduction Walking Tour

Edinburgh Introduction Walking Tour

Comfortably yet tightly packed on the hilly terrain, Edinburgh – the Scottish capital since at least the 15th century, and the seat of the Scottish Parliament since 1999 – is a picturesque city renowned for its unique architecture of the medieval Old Town and elegant Georgian New Town, currently both listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The earliest known human habitation in the area dates...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Edinburgh Pub Crawl

Edinburgh Pub Crawl

Edinburgh is rich in pubs, both old and new, spoiling their patrons with the best in town drinks and food. Although most traditional pubs in the city are laid back, with a quiet and relaxing atmosphere, some have dance floors and double as nightclubs. This self-guided adventure takes you to several such spots, each with its own story to tell.

Our journey begins at the World's End Pub, a...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles

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