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Archive Anecdotes

Snippets from the city's archives


Oct 6, 2014

'Clengeing the gaitt'


Five hundred years ago the cleanliness of Edinburgh’s ‘High Gaitt’ (High Street) was, as it is today, a priority for the city authorities. Following a town council report of 4 October 1514 warning that the pestilence (plague) had returned to Edinburgh, the citizens were reminded two days later, on 6 October 1514, of their civic duty to contribute to the cost of 'dichting the gaitt', (cleaning the street).

‘the act made of befoir anent the dichting of the gaitt. That is to say of ilk stok on the high gaitt iiiid (four pence) in the quarter, that the dichteris of the gaitt cum at the quarters and ask their four pennies’

The original statute for this levy had been established on 5 July 1505 during another period of plague. Thomas Glendunwyne the city’s ‘belman’ was given the task of collecting the funds and keeping the streets clean:

‘the quhilk Thomas is oblist to haf a hors with a close cairt and twa seruandis (servants) daily for purging and clengeing of the hie streitt betuix the Castle hill and Sanct Mary Wynd and Leith Wynd heids of all manner of muk, filth of fische and flesche and fulzie. . . and cary this muk, filth and fulzie till a place.'

Sources:

Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh.

Illustration - an extract from an anonymous drawing of Hertford's occupation of Edinburgh 1544.



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