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This cache has been archived.

marmal: I'm archiving my caches as I no longer have any wish to maintain them. The activity has changed greatly in the last few years and not for the better in my view.

My caches no longer fit the way caching is done now so it's time to go.



Edinburgh's Royal Mile

A cache by marmal Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 10/14/2004
1.5 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: micro (micro)

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Geocache Description:

A tourist friendly cache in the heart of Edinburgh.

This is a multi virtual cache with a nano cache at the end - too wee for swaps and bring your own pen!  This cache has a sister, but you can do them independently of each other.  While you can do this one anytime, I recommend doing it during the day, particularly if you wish to visit the second optional extra (and I think it’s worth it).  Given the difficulty of receiving a signal due to the tall buildings, I will give you this clue: you will visit all sites in order as you progress down the Royal Mile, but that’s all the help you should need!  How easy do you want it?  After all, it’s all downhill from here…


Here’s a handy wee table for noting down the co-ords.


Agnes Fynnie

A -

Robert Johnstone

D -

Major Thomas Weir

B -

John Knox

E -

Lady Eleanor Stair

C -

Joseph McIvor

F -


Edinburgh’s Royal Mile – one of the most famous streets in the World.  But it’s wrong on all 3 counts.  Mile?  It’s actually a little more than a mile, but you would expect a bit extra from us generous Scots!  Royal?  It has the Castle at one end and the Royal Palace of Holyrood at the other but in between there have been so many shady and shameful things going on that royal is maybe not the best word to describe them.  Edinburgh?  Historically, only the places in this cache were inside Edinburgh – the ones in the sister cache were all in Canongate that used to be a separate village outside the city walls.  This walk will take you to the limits of Old Edinburgh.


To give you a better feel for the place, I thought I would tell you about some of the people that also passed along this street in centuries gone by.  I hope you enjoy the trip.



1. Agnes Fynnie, Industrious Witch.  N055.56.922 W003.11.810


Just behind you on the Castle Esplanade over 300 people met their doom, executed after being found guilty of witchcraft.  One of them was Agnes Fynnie who had 20 charges brought against her in 1644.  These included: causing Isobel Atcheson to fall off a horse and break her leg, driving Andrew Wilson mad, making Margaret Williamson blind and threatening to make the Devil rise up and bite Bettie Currie.  She was also supposed to have given Beatrix Nisbet a ‘most fearful disease’ and caused the son of William Fairlie to die of the ‘supernatural’ after he insulted her.  But she was probably guilty of nothing more than being a crabbit auld wifie that was unpopular with her neighbours.  This did not stop her being worryit (strangled) and burnt at the stake for her ‘crimes’.  You should be standing in front of a small fountain on a wall known as the Witches’ Well (not working, sadly) that marks this shameful history. NOTE: the fountain is ON A WALL, not freestanding.  Between the years marked in Roman Numerals on the backplate over 4,000 people were executed as witches in Scotland, most of them tortured into confessing their guilt.


The first co-ordinate number you will need is from the year on the top left of the fountain – 147A.


2. Major Thomas Weir, The Wizard of the West Bow.  N055.56.926 W003.11.616


When you reach the above co-ordinates you will be standing in what used to be a maze of buildings and closes that was known as the West Bow.  It was to this locale that Thomas Weir moved after retiring from the City Guard, where he made Captain, previously serving with Montrose’s Covenanters in Ireland, reaching the rank of Major in the Earl of Lanark’s Regiment.  A tall and somber man, Weir had memorised passages from Scripture and was prominent in a local sect known as the ‘Bow Head Saints’ because of their strict religious beliefs.  Now aged 70, Weir’s sermons were famous far and wide and drew great crowds to his house in the West Bow.  Until one night, when he stunned his congregation by confessing to witchcraft, pacts with the Devil, intimate relations with his sister and other acts not mentionable in polite company.  His friends quickly rushed him out of the room, but he could not be made to recant his confession and was eventually executed in 1670 for witchcraft in front of thousands of spectators.  Even his walking stick provided a spectacle as it reputedly writhed like a serpent amongst the flames.  Such was the fear of unholy happenings in the Major’s abandoned house, it lay empty for over 150 years!


For the next number in your quest, take a note of the number on the door of the Quaker Meeting House (B) and as you leave, just think how many folk were left quaking at hearing the Major’s amazing confession over 300 years ago.


Optional extra no.1 – Mylne’s Court N055.56.964 W003.11.679

There are a couple of things to look out for in this pleasantly restored courtyard.  Firstly, the windows are only half ‘glassed’ as glass was too expensive at one time to fill the whole window.  As you head back out of the close, check out the railings on your right.  Bowed by design, the railings allowed the fashionably attired ladies of the 18th Century to pass by each other without creasing their sumptuous hooped skirts, or compromising their modesty!


3.  Lady Eleanor Stair.  N055.56.978 W003.11.622

Born into Edinburgh’s high society, Lady Eleanor Campbell married the powerful Viscount Primrose while still in her teens.  But it was a disaster and after an attempt on his wife’s life, Primrose fled the country in disgrace.  Some years later, Lady Primrose and some friends went to see a traveling magician where she was shown the ‘Magic Mirror’.  Before her gaze the image in the mirror transformed to a church scene, a wedding no less.  And the groom was none other than her missing husband!  Suddenly, another figure appeared, drawing his sword, but the mirror then clouded over as chaos reigned.  When she returned home, Lady Eleanor wrote an account of this vision in her diary.  When her brother returned from a trip overseas, Lady Eleanor told him of the vision, thinking he would be amused by it.  But it was Lady Eleanor who was taken aback, as her brother told her that it was he that appeared in the vision, before going on to tell her that he had prevented her husband from marrying a Dutch heiress – and on the same day Lady Primrose visited the magician!  (The Magic Mirror must have been an early webcam!)


But the story doesn’t end there.  Viscount Primrose died in 1706 and understandably, Lady Eleanor was reluctant to marry again after her bad experience.  But the 2nd Earl of Stair would not take no for an answer.  So the enterprising Earl bribed the staff to let him into the house one night and he hid in Lady Eleanor’s bedroom.  After she had awakened the next morning and went downstairs, he went onto the balcony above you dressed only in his nightshirt!  To avoid further scandalous behaviour, Lady Primrose agreed to become Lady Stair – and they all lived happily ever after!


Not far from the balcony is a 19th Century firemark – an early insurance policy.  It has the dates 162C-1897 upon it.


4.  The execution of Robert Johnstone, December 30th 1818.  N055.56.986 W003.11.530

When you reach these co-ordinates, you will be standing on the site of the Old Tolbooth Prison.  It was the place where many a wretched soul spent their last hours in this World before being hastened into the next at the end of the hangman’s rope.  The Tollbooth was demolished in 1817 and one of the first executions to take place here afterwards was of 20 year old Robert Johnstone, sentenced to death for armed robbery, but the bungled nature of his execution has brought some measure of immortality.  The new hangman made his rope too long for the tall Johnstone and his feet could still touch the scaffold meaning that the rope did not tighten sufficiently to carry out the sentence.  In terrible agony, Johnstone lifted his feet off the ground 3 times in an attempt to put an end to his suffering.  The crowd that always gathered to witness justice being administered were horrified and began to throw stones at the scaffold causing the officials to retreat.  Johnstone was cut down, but before making their getaway, the mob was stopped by additional City Guardsmen, the gasping Johnstone retrieved and order restored.  Eight hours later, he was taken back to the scaffold where the sentence was carried out, in full. 


The Old Tollbooth is long gone, but its position is marked in the High Street by a series of brass bricks amongst the cobblestones.  You are looking for the bricks near the statue with a series of dates, marking significant extensions to the building (1386, 1430 & 161D).  As you do so, spare a thought for the unfortunate Robert Johnstone, the victim of the longest hanging.


5.  John Knox.  N055.56.952 W003.11.442
You are not looking for his famous house (although it is doubtful that he ever lived there) but his final resting place.  Now you might expect that the grave of a man who left his mark on the character of the Scottish nation, its Kirk and education system, to be a grand and imposing affair.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Knox was the Minister of St. Giles until his death in 1572 and he was laid to rest in its precincts and reputedly the grave is marked by a simple square on the ground, about a foot on each side.  Your next co-ordinate is in the number of the car parking space that is now on this site, E3.  Just how many other folk are ‘parked’ under here?


Optional extra no.2 – Parliament Hall N055.56.951 W003.11.443

Near John Knox’s grave is the old Parliament Hall, home of the Scottish Parliament before the Act of Union in 1707.  And if you are visiting during office hours (8 to 5) it is usually possible to pop in for a look around.  The huge stained glass window – the Inauguration of the Court of Session, 1532 – is very impressive.  But I like a small painting on the opposite wall from the door you entered by.  It shows a view of the hall being used and you can see the purpose of the small window, high on the wall across from where you are standing – the original public address system!


6.  Joseph McIvor.  N055.57.027 W003.11.163

Building regulations and DIY have come a long way since 1861 when the term load bearing wall did not mean a lot to your average Royal Mile resident.  Putting in additional doorways and knocking down walls to turn 2 small rooms into a larger one seriously weakened the 8 storey tenement that used to stand at this location.  At about 1:30am on the 25th of November, the central wall collapsed pulling every floor down with it, leaving the outside walls still standing.  Thirty five people lost their lives in the disaster, but one lad had a miraculous escape.  12 year-old Joseph McIvor had been located early in the rescue attempt, but the rubble refused to give him up without a struggle.  He was heard to encourage his rescuers by shouting out the phrase that is now inscribed above Paisley Close together with a bust of his likeness.  How many letters are in the inscription 2F?


7.  Philip Stanfield, Ordeal by Touch. 

I hope the journey has not been too much of a trial, but the last location is related to one.   Sir James Stanfield was a wealthy man who owned, amongst other things, a significant property where the World’s End Pub is now.  (The cache should really be located in the close there, but the actual location is less likely to be accidentally discovered.)  But while he was successful in business, he was less so with his family and in particular his unruly son Philip.  One morning in November 1687, the body of Sir James was dragged from the river near his home in East Lothian.  Suicide was the initial thought and the burial was quickly arranged, but suspicions of darker deeds would not go away.  Eventually, the body was exhumed and the corpse examined whereupon it was clear Stanfield had been strangled.  The post-mortem concluded, the relatives were requested to replace the body in the coffin in order to subject Philip, the main suspect, to the ordeal by touch.  In the convention of the time a suspected murderer was made to touch the body of his victim and if it miraculously began to bleed then guilt was proven by authority of divine revelation.  As Philip lifted his father’s head, the corpse began to bleed and his fate was sealed.  I’m sure Quincy could come up with a few explanations as to why this happened, but he wasn’t there of course, and Philip was executed in February 1688.  James Millar described the proceedings thus:

Young Stanfield touched his father’s corpse

Where rose a fearful wail

For blood gushed out the winding sheet

And every face grew pale.


Now for the cache itself.  The cache container is a black magnetic nano type. To find it you must go to N55.57.D(E-2)(F-4) W003.11.(A-8)(B-6)(C-2) and look to the left of the bracket.


And there you are, you have reached the World’s End – or so it was to Edinburgh residents at one time as the city ended at the Netherbow Port.  This gate is now gone, but just like the Old Tollbooth you can see its outline in the brass bricks amongst the cobblestones at the crossroads.  Farewell from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

Click to go to the Mega Scotland web site

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Zntargvp - ba gur obggbz raq bs gur jnyy oenpxrg.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)

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