As part of the Old Town, the Grassmarket sits far below the castle and the Royal Mile in a deep valley. Traditionally it was the site of cattle, horse and grain markets, being easily accessible for drovers with their animals and farmers with their grain coming into the city. It was here you’d find stables, saddlers, inns and, more darkly, the gallows as it was also one of the sites of public execution in Edinburgh.
Several of the old inns still exist and as we pass by, I’ll tell you some of the gripping tales connected with them and Edinburgh’s past. At the western end of the Grassmarket, at West Port, named after the old city gate, there are also connections with two of the most infamous 19th century murderers in Edinburgh. At the eastern end of the Grassmarket we’ll see the junction with other historic streets – the West Bow at the bottom of Victoria Street, the Cowgate and Candlemaker Row and discover more about past inhabitants and surprising connections with present day ones.