Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Archive Anecdotes

Snippets from the city's archives

Jan 20, 2014

Crocodiles in Edinburgh.

Two hundred years ago, on Thursday 20th January 1814, the Caledonian Mercury newspaper announced that Edinburgh was to host an unusual exhibition of natural history exhibits belonging to the antiquarian, William Bullock:

Under the headline ‘Bullocks Museum’ the report was as follows:


‘We are happy to learn, that the public in general, and the admirers of natural history in particular, will very shortly be gratified by the arrival of Mr Bullock’s very splendid collection in Edinburgh.

After this distinguished naturalist last visited the capital of Scotland, he removed his collection to the metropolis, where it was exhibited in a temporary room in Piccadilly; and such was the distinguished success he met with, during the short space of one twelvemonth, that he was induced, at an expence of £10,000, to build the splendid suite of rooms opposite Bond Street, where the favour of the public, and patronage of the highest ranks in the city, have amply rewarded him for his spirited exertions.

The collection now on its way to Edinburgh is . . . equally magnificent if not in some respects superior. Among other things, he is bringing the fossil head of a crocodile, lately found in Dorsetshire . . . the inspection of this invaluable relic of a former world (is) particularly desirable to the amateurs of the North, where nothing of the kind has hitherto been discovered.’

The article concluded ‘where nothing of the kind has hitherto been discovered’. However, almost two hundred years later, in the summer of 2013, visitors to St Andrew Square could ‘discover’ a resting crocodile, courtesy of the National Library of Scotland. The crocodile was helping to promote the well received NLS exhibition ‘Picturing Africa, Illustrating Livingstone’s travels’.



Crocodile in St Andrew Square 2013.


Reproduced courtesy of the National Library of Scotland.


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