Tag Archives: Graveyard

Greyfriars Bobby

02-Bobby's-Grave

Greyfriars Bobby

Of all the history and tales about Greyfriars, there’s probably one that captures the public imagination more than any other – that of Greyfriars Bobby.

During the 1850s, a man by the name of John Gray, walked the streets of Edinburgh as a night watchman for the local police, and with him, went his trusty Skye Terrier Bobby. They trudged the cobbled streets together but in 1858 John died and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard.

The story goes that Bobby refused to leave his master’s graveside, no matter what the weather. Several times the gardener of the Kirkyard tried to move Bobby on, but he always returned, and in the end the gardener relented and made up a shelter next to his master’s grave.

Bobby became a bit of a celebrity and was well looked after, but he never left the graveside. For 14 years he kept vigil until he himself died in 1872 aged 16.

In 1981 an unconsecrated grave was made for Bobby near to where John Gray is buried. It has become a shrine for the thousands of visitors who leave flowers, toys and twigs to keep him company.

If you would like to know what he looked like there’s a nice little statue of him on top of a drinking fountain near to the Greyfriars Bobby pub – and if you want to really engross yourself in the story there’s a Walt Disney film based on a children’s book by Eleanor Atkinson.

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Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirk

Greyfriars Kirkyard

In 1638 the National Covenant, one of the most significant documents in Scottish history, was signed in Greyfriars Kirk.

This document was the Scottish Presbyterian’s answer to Charles I’s religious policy which had been causing a lot of anger. Copies of the Covenant were distributed throughout Scotland and the Covenanters became the catalyst for the Bishop’s Wars of 1639 and 1640. This ultimately led to the English Civil War in 1642 and the execution of the King in 1649.

After the restoration of the monarchy with Charles II, the Covenanters found themselves on the back foot and after the Battle of Bothwell Brig in 1679 over a thousand of them found themselves in a prison in Greyfriars Kirkyard. Although some of them switched allegiance and others escaped, there were many who died or were executed here. The area where the prison stood is still here and there’s a Martyr’s Memorial in the bottom right hand corner of the Kirkyard.

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