Ancient stones of one Edinburgh road and their sad history (5 photos)

21 June 2024

On one quite modern street in Edinburgh there is literally a greeting from the past - several ancient stones that were built into the pavement for a reason, but with a long-range aim.

The plaques are intended to perpetuate the memory of one of the last public hangings in the city. For the edification, so to speak, of posterity. To have something to think about when stepping onto the stove.

In the middle of a residential street in the Morningside area of ​​Edinburgh, slabs with the addition of strange stones are tightly embedded into the pavement. A nearby curb plaque tells the story of the last outlaws to be publicly hanged in Scotland.

On a cold November night in 1814, David Loch was hauling his goods by cart when he was attacked by two Irish immigrants, Henry O'Neill and Thomas Kelly. He was brutally beaten and his horse was stolen along with his monthly salary.

Both men were quickly detained because they not only had a bad reputation, but had already committed similar crimes. The trial was swift and possibly biased due to prejudice against the Irish. Their case was unusual. The judge ordered the men to be chained and taken from the Old Tolbooth prison in the center of Edinburgh, forcing them to walk several kilometers to be executed on the very spot where the crime was committed.

Despite the fact that it was snowing, a large procession of officials, clergy and spectators, always thirsty for spectacle, accompanied the men to this eerie place. On January 25, 1815, the criminals were hanged in front of the crowd. The bodies were left hanging as a stark reminder and warning to other would-be criminals.

The story of the hanging is firmly entrenched in the public consciousness. Sympathy for the hanged only grew over the years. Local folklore, based on eyewitness accounts, says that those people were hanged unfairly. Two cobblestones in the center of each platform symbolize the gallows. People say that the cement on the road never completely dries, reminding of the unjust accusation, trial and lives taken.

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