Edinburgh World Heritage - Jungle City

 

Jungle City

The Old and New Towns have many hidden connections with animals and the jungle.

St Andrew Square - Scottish Lion
This impressive sculpture was created by artist Ronald Rae in 2006 and his choice of subject was inspired by the ancient tradition of the Lion as a symbol of both power and Scottish identity. The work has been voted the best-loved sculpture in Edinburgh and after spending four years at the foot of Arthur’s Seat it has made its way to St. Andrew Square Garden for the public to continue enjoying and engaging with it.

Download the St Andrew's Square podcast (MP3 | 1.5MB)

Palace of Holyroodhouse - Royal Lion
The Palace of Holyroodhouse was founded as a monastery in 1128 by David I, King of Scots, and the site became an important administrative centre during the following centuries due to its proximity with Edinburgh Castle.  In 1512 the king James IV added a lion den to house his menagerie.  His collection of animals included a lion and a civet (a cat-like otter indigenous to Africa and Southeast Asia) amongst other exotic specimens.  There were also bear parks in the vast palatial grounds that were considered to be some of the finest seen anywhere at this time.

Edinburgh Castle - National War Museum
If someone told you that an elephant once lived at the Castle they would surprisingly be telling the truth!  The castle served as the main barracks for the Infantry garrison of Edinburgh right up until the beginning of the First World War in 1914, and after an expedition to Ceylon in 1838 the 78th Highlanders’ regiment returned with a pet elephant.  A sketch by an Edinburgh resident shows him marching at the head of the regimental band and there are also accounts of the elephant and his keeper visiting the canteen for a few rounds of beer, after which they would retire to the stables to sleep it off!

National Museums of Scotland - Cramond Lion
This extraordinary white sandstone sculpture, believed to have been a memorial for a high ranking Roman officer, was found in 1997 within the mud of the nearby River Almond by Robert Graham, a ferryman from Cramond.  Believed to be around 1800 years old it has since been described as one of the most important Roman discoveries in decades.  It is thought that the sculpture would have been placed on top of the officer’s tomb or on an enclosing wall.  Its design expresses the destructive power of death as the lioness devours a naked bearded man whilst two snakes emerge from underneath her belly.  Clearly not a Roman to mess with!

Download the National Museums of Scotland podcast (MP3 | 2.4MB)

The Grassmarket - Bostock and Wombwell's Travelling Menagerie
Edward Henry Bostock’s menagerie visited Edinburgh for the first time in 1873 where they occupied a site commonly used for fat cattle sales in Waverley Market.  With the growth of his fame and the size of his menagerie, Edward returned in the 1880s to the Grassmarket (the entertainment centre of the city) for numerous Christmas and New Year periods.  The spectacle always attracted huge crowds and there were even instances of pupils from the nearby George Heriot’s School climbing over the school wall to attend the show!

Melville Street - serpents
Melville Street was designed by Robert Brown in 1814 and it is believed that he was also responsible for the ironwork that fronts the properties.  A myth surrounds the serpent heads which adorn the railings: it is thought that they were intended for extinguishing torches.  In his writings on the “curiosities” of Edinburgh at the end of the 19th century, George Fothergill commented on the two designs of the serpent heads, describing one type as possessing the character of “vice and hate” and the other as a “duck-billed, harmless-looking reptile, an example of which, if I remember correctly, may be seen at No. 3 of that street”.

Download the Melville Street podcast (MP2 | 1.5MB)

 

 

 
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