As I was walking towards Edinburgh Castle, a cemetery at the base of the hill caught my eye and I knew I would have to go there once my visit to the top of the hill was finished. This was of course St Cuthbert’s Burial Ground, a cemetery that has been around since the 16th century, although the church has been there in some form since the 8th century.
Statue of a dog outside the cemetery
The castle in the background
I wasn’t able to go inside the church, but the cemetery provided an interesting history of gravestones and funerary imagery over the centuries. The old slab stone markers with cherubs and winged skulls were present, as were more fully realized statues, although the most common marker was a vertical stone with just words and very little, to no, decoration. My favourites were the older markers, as some had quite interesting images on them, a bit unique to others I’ve seen elsewhere.
Passing the crown
Working that hair
As I wandered around it was clear that there were a mix of locals and tourists alike who were visiting the grounds, but even then it was fairly quiet (minus one guy singing in one section of the cemetery). One element I found interesting was the watch tower, needed to help protect the interred from the body snatchers, hoping to make some money from the medical schools, desperate for bodies. This apparently was a problem for a few centuries, necessitating the need for higher walls as well
Winged cherub and skull
Monuments: A mix of older and newer monuments, but the most interesting are the older ones.
Grounds: Fairly flat with some hilly sections. Lots of grass which means wet shoes after the rain.
Visitors: A few
Site: St. Cuthbert’s Burial Ground
Established: There’s probably been a church here since the 7th century, and the cemetery dates from 1595. Burials ceased in 1875.
Notable Internments: John Napier (invented logarithms), Thomas Bonar (co-founded the Encyclopaedia Britannica) and many others
Location: 5 Lothian Rd, Edinburgh
Hours: 10:30-15:30 daily except Friday when it closes at 13:30. Closed Mondays and Saturdays, variable hours on Sundays. (I believe these are specifically for the church, don’t know about the cemetery).