Edinburgh Bookshelf

Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


CHAPTER IX. THE WEST BOW AND SUBURBS. N the centre of the ancient city there I stood, till a few years since, a strange, crooked, steep, and altogether singular and picturesque avenue from the High Street to the low valley on the south, in which the more ancient extensions of the once circumscribed Scottish capital are reared. Scarcely anything can be conceived more curious and whimsically grotesque than its array of irregular stone gables and timber galleries, that seemed as if jostling one another for room along the steep and narrow thoroughfare ; while the busy throng were toiling up or hurrying down its precipitous pathways, amid the ceaseless din of braziers’ and tinsmiths’ hammers, for which it was famed, and the rumbling of wheels, accompanied with the vociferous shouts of a host of noisy assistants, as some heavy-laden wain creeked and groaned up the steep. The modern visitor who now sees the Bowhead, an open area nearly on a level with the Castle drawbridge, and then by gradual and easy descent of long flights of stairs, and the more gentle modern slope of Victoria Street, at length reaches The Bowfoot Well in the Grassmarket, will hardly be persuaded that between these two widely different elevations there extended only a few years since a thoroughfare crowded with antique tenements, quaint inscriptions, and E t i l l more strange and interesting associations ; unmatched in its historic and traditionary memories by any other spot of the curious old capital, whose memories we seek to revive. Here were the Templar Lands, with their antique gables, surmounted by the croBs that marked them as beyond the reach of civic corporation laws, and with their old- . ~IC+Nrrr+?tfajor Weir’s HOUS~.
Volume 10 Page 364
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