Edinburgh Photo Library
- Heart of Midlothian

Heart of Midlothian

The heart-shaped design of the cobble stones near St Giles Cathedral marks where the entrance to the Tolbooth used to be located. The Tolbooth was originally set up in 1561, as the name implies, to collect tolls but also became used as a prison after 1640. There was also a scaffold for hanging criminals (and others) and the heads of the more famous victims would be displayed on spikes in the face of the building. The Tolbooth was demolished in 1817.

Perhaps as a sign of disrespect to the town council, it became common for passsers-by to spit on the cobble stone design. While this is not encouraged these days, it is wise to give the emblem a wide berth when walking past - just in case!

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