One of the most iconic places to visit in Edinburgh is its castle, which dominates the skyline from almost everywhere you go in the city. The castle itself is interesting to visit in and of its own right – including the prison where many prisoners were kept, even up to WWI-, and also of the Stone of Destiny (or Stone of Scone), something I’ve always wanted to see after watching a movie about it a few years ago. I have to admit I didn’t even think about it when I went to see the crown jewels, it was after I left the building that I realised that the big ugly stone beside them must be it and went back for a second look. No, what I really wanted to see was the Dog Cemetery, a small little parcel of land that was probably part of a tower once, but now holds the remains of dogs that belonged to high-ranking soldiers.
There are 20 gravestones here, the oldest legible one from 1881, for Jess, a dog that belonged to the Black Watch 42nd Royal Highlanders. The newest one is for Winkle, who died in 1980. Unfortunately, there is no way to visit the cemetery, and it’s easy to see why – with the number of visitors to the site, the limited space of the cemetery, and fragile condition of the stones – it would be impossible to maintain the integrity of the site. You can see it from the viewpoint above, but unless you have a telephoto lens and are blessed with good light (i.e. the cemetery not in shadow), it’s hard to make out any of the descriptions on the stones below.
One day I’d like to see them offer limited tours to the little cemetery, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s touching that they’ve dedicated the small space to soldiers’ dogs, and have maintained it ever since.
Berkin dugs here lie at rest
The yappin worst, obedient best
Sodgers pets and mascots tae
Still the guard the castle to this day
Site: Edinburgh Castle Dog Cemetery
Hours: Same as Edinburgh Castle, but you cannot actually visit the cemetery
Location: Edinburgh Castle