They say that dog is a mans best friend, but at what point does that friendship come to an end? Without meaning to sound morbid, you would think that friendship might end with death, but in the cause of Greyfriars Bobby you would be wrong!
After landing down at Edinburgh Airport and you will be within touching distance of the most heartwarming tale of a man and his dog. For 14 years after his owner John Gray, an Edinburgh based police officer died, it is said that Greyfriars Bobby sat guarding said owners grave. Come rain or shine Bobby could always be found by his owners side, all the way up until his own sad death.
Recognised for such loyalty and determination, Bobby the wee Skye terrier is now immortalized in a life size statue located near the main entrance of Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh. The statue was created by William Brodie in 1872 and is Edinburgh smallest listed building. It’s original function was as a fountain, aptly housing an upper and lower fountain for both owners and dogs. Today’s however both fountains have been filled in and the statue acts purely as a tourist attraction.
To clarify a few names from the above paragraphs, Greyfriars Kirkyard is the graveyard which surrounds Greyfriars Kirk – a parish Church. The graveyard can be a little creepy in mooted lighting, with your eyes no doubt drawn to the cages that cover certain graves. Whilst fans of the Walking Dead may jump to the conclusion that the cages are well positioned to keep any zombies in the ground, the cages were actually used for the opposite, to stop people like Burke and Hare from getting into the graves and robbing them.
On the day of our visit to Greyfriars Kirkyard, it may have been wet and windy, but I don’t think we’ve ever enjoyed a visit to a graveyard as much as we did on this day. Touched by the story of Greyfriars Bobby we were also deeply fascinated with the level to which Edinburgh and Greyfriars played huge roles in the Harry Potter Series. Keep an eye out for graves with the names ‘Potter’, ‘Black ‘, ‘McGonagall’ and ‘Riddle’ if you venture the graveyard.
Depending of the time of day, you may also hear the sounds of a school lunch or break just around the corner. That would be the children of the George Heriot’s School, said to be the inspiration behind Hogwarts.
So that’s dogs and wizards, but where do the Elephants fit in? How do they come into this picture? Well, as I mentioned, on the weekend of our visit to Edinburgh the heavens were continuously open. Sodden and cold, once our walking tour had finished at Bobby’s statue we needed somewhere to hide from the pouring rain and warm up a bit. Step up the Elephant House just around the corner. Famously this small but enjoyable cafe is where J K Rowling penned some of the incredible book series. Like the Greyfriars graveyard it is now a popular tourist attraction … one that serves very nice tea, cake and elephant shaped biscuits.
Elephant House photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dickpenn/
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