See our capital city's history like never before
This is Edinburgh introduces us to a unique visitor experience - Edinburgh’s 101 Objects, revealing the stories and history behind Scotland’s Capital City like never before...
Edinburgh's 101 Objects, a curated list of objects located around Edinburgh, brings you the opportunity to learn more about Scotland's capital and its fascinating history right where it happened. By visiting each object you’ll learn and discover things you didn’t know about the city, and gain an appreciation for the significance of each one to the city – and Scotland’s history.
But with such an array of objects, where do you start? That’s why the team at This is Edinburgh have put together a few itineraries to get you going, and below you’ll find just one of them. This guide takes you on a path through the Old Town, but don't be afraid to go off-piste and visit any others that take your fancy – and make sure you check out the list of itineraries on Edinburgh.org for more routes and suggestions.
Kick-start your 101 journey by ticking off four of the objects in one go with a visit to Edinburgh Castle, an easy distance from Edinburgh Waverley train station. The Castle is home to Object 70, The Stone of Destiny, upon which Scotland's rulers are traditionally crowned, Object 71, Scotland's Crown Jewels, which lay lost for decades, Object 72, Mons Meg (one of the most terrifying siege weapons of her time) and Object 94, a Door from the old Prisons of War, which kept French, American and Spanish prisoners captive during the American War of Independence.
While at the Castle, make sure you take in the panoramic views across the city, from which you can also see Object 35 - The Scott Monument. Please note that entry to the Castle is ticketed, so check the Edinburgh Castle website for relevant costs.
Down the Royal Mile
Next, you'll be heading down the Royal Mile, the historic backbone of Edinburgh's Old Town that links the Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Scottish Parliament.
Before you make your way down that far though, just a few steps from the Castle esplanade, make a stop on your right into the Scotch Whisky Experience, home of Object 62 - a bottle of Usher's Green Stripe whisky.
Once you've taken in a dram (or two), make your way to The Hub for a bit of Edinburgh International Festival history by taking in Object 22 - a programme from the very first Edinburgh International Festival back in 1947.
The High Street
Continuing further down the Mile you'll come to The Lawnmarket and High Street, where you can give Object 33 - David Hume's Lucky Toe - a rub for luck on the rest of your journey through Edinburgh's history.
A few steps down from Hume's statue you'll find the imposing St Giles' Cathedral, outside of which is Object 1, The Heart of Midlothian (spitting on it is optional...).
Duck into the cathedral to take in the gorgeous architecture and view Object 85, the Thistle Chapel Ceiling - housing an ornate, jewel-like room dedicated to Scotland's chivalry, hidden at the back of the cathedral. And don't miss Object 77 - a Scottish declaration of ecclesiastical independence from the Church of England considered by many as a foundational move towards modern participatory democracy.
Next, let's take in some of the history of one of Edinburgh's most famous festivals - pop into the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Shop to see Object 28 - the first winning entry to the now annual Fringe Schools Poster Competition.
Now might be a good time to pick up a coffee or have a wee rest for five minutes before you get ready to cross over the Bridges and head down the rest of the Royal Mile. There's still a lot to see!
South of the Bridges
It's time to check out the Scottish Storytelling Centre and Object 4, a bell with Edinburgh's coat of arms engraved, dating back to 1621. Next, go inside and see Object 76, a copy of the Geneva Bible printed in 1572. With an impact far greater than its unassuming looks, the book you're looking at influenced politics, language and philosophy in Scotland for centuries.
Head further down the Royal Mile until you come to the Museum of Edinburgh, where you'll find Object 63, a golf ball used by Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, found etched with his initials while digging work was undertaken in the garden of his former home.
Opposite the Museum you'll find Object 44, the grave of the father of modern economics, Adam Smith. Together with David Hume (whose toe you gave a wee rub earlier), he became part of Edinburgh’s renowned intellectual circle who went on to revolutionise the world's thinking.
Back across the street, just off Bakehouse Close you'll find one of the darker, more unusual objects on the list. Object 96, an anonymous 1775 guide to the various 'ladies of leisure' resident in the city, complete with descriptions, reviews and where to find them - including one in what is now the Edinburgh World Heritage Centre itself.
Coming off Bakehouse Close and back onto the Royal Mile, pop into The Scottish Poetry Library on Crichton's Close to see Object 41 - a series of sculptures made anonymously from books, and discovered in various spots around the city as gifts from a mysterious literature lover.
Now, it's time to head down to the bottom of the Royal Mile...
Bottom of the Mile
You've made it! You're now standing next to both The Scottish Parliament building, the seat of government in Scotland. Venture inside to see Object 89, a silver and gold mace created for the 1999 opening of the first Scottish parliament, almost 300 years after the Union of the Parliaments with England.
Across from Parliament is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, home to Object 93 and a rather gruesome story. In a small room used as a place to relax by Mary Queen of Scots is a dark, seemingly immovable stain on the floorboards, right in the spot where the Queen's secretary's body was dumped after her husband, Lord Darnley, stabbed him 56 times.
Bonus Point Challenge: Arthur's Seat and The Sheep Heid
By now we'll forgive you if you're about ready to head to the nearest bar, restaurant or coffee shop and enjoy taking a load off your feet, but if you fancy being rewarded with a view over Edinburgh unlike any other, venture up Arthur's Seat and for a panorama across the city.
While you're up there, look out for Object 45, an outcropping of dolerite and sandstone studied by James Hutton in the late 18th century, which was crucial in establishing his theories of the earth's age, and the volcanic formation of the mountains in Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is also where Object 99 – a mysterious collection of miniature figurines in coffins - was found in 1836, now housed in the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street.
If you can walk a bit further, reward yourself with a drink in Scotland's oldest pub - the Sheep Heid, home of Object 45, where you can also play a game of skittles.
This itinerary covers just 22 of Edinburgh's 101 Objects – and there are so many more to see around the city, including in Leith, the New Town and beyond, so make sure you check the full list to learn more about this unique visitor experience.