Five Sites Every Walter Scott Fan Should Visit in Edinburgh

Posted on July 30, 2021 | in Walter Scott 250 | by

It’s hard to visit Edinburgh’s historical Old and New Towns without spotting something relating to Walter Scott. Be it the vivid Scott monument, or the winding Georgian streets, much of the city echoes a period long since passed. We’ve compiled a guide of all the best Walter Scott sites to visit on your next trip to Edinburgh, so you can get a feel for Scott’s birthplace.

The Walter Scott Monument

After Scott’s death in 1832 a competition was held in Edinburgh for the chance to design a monument dedicated to Walter Scott. Sitting in Princes Street Gardens, the impressive structure has become synonymous with Edinburgh’s Gothic architecture. It is also located right by Edinburgh Waverley Station, as one of the first things people may see when they disembark from either the tram or train. The winner entered under a pseudonym, John Morvo, playing ironically on the name of a Medieval architect. It receives millions of visitors every year, welcoming them to Edinburgh.

George Square (University of Edinburgh)

What some visitors may not know is that Walter Scott used to be resident in George Square for 25 years of his life. The square is now famous as the home of the Edinburgh University Library and other university buildings. Back in Scott’s day, George Square was a new development by the leafy park area ‘The Meadows’. Sadly, parts of the square have been demolished, but Scott’s home remains. You can see Scott’s former lodgings at number 25 George Square, which is also honoured by a plaque.

University Law School

Before becoming a famed author, Scott studied at the University of Edinburgh. If you want a flavour of life as a law student, take a visit to the University Law School in Edinburgh’s Old Town. Located a stone’s throw from Newington, this quad is reminiscent of the Georgian architecture in the New Town. It is also complete with lecture halls and an academic law library. Despite being built after Scott’s time as a student, it is in the same location as the Law School was when he studied there!

University Archaeology Department

Prior to being owned by the University, the department was actually a secondary school. Previously named the High School of Edinburgh, the building on Infirmary Street is where Scott spent some of his formative educational years. It can be found in the Old Town, not far from the Surgeons’ Quarter.

North Castle Street

For many years, Scott’s Edinburgh address was North Castle Street in Edinburgh’s New Town. He wrote in his journal about his time in North Castle Street describing it as: ‘This morning I leave No. 39 Castle Street for the last time. “The cabin was convenient”, and habit had made it agreeable to me. […] So farewell, poor 39, and may you never harbour worse people than those who now leave you.’ The house is conveniently located near Princes Street, and easily accessible for great photo shots of Georgian, stone architecture.

Works Cited

John Gibson Lockhart, Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart, Volume 4 (Edinburgh: 1838).

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