Most know that the city of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, is old and studded with all manner of upheavals such as war, famine, and political intrigue.
However, you may be surprised to know that some of the earliest human remains found in the region date back to 8,500 BC!
These findings represent some of the earliest human remains ever discovered in Britain.
Edinburgh appeals to all kinds of people. No matter what your reasons for visiting, you are sure to be impressed with this most wonderful of Scottish Cities.
Whether you are contemplating a move to Scotland, a long weekend or just visiting family and friends, there is a world of things to discover.
What may surprise you is that Edinburgh holds a treasure trove of quirky trivia and unusual facts waiting to be uncovered.
Here we discover just some of the historical, fun, and quirkier facts you may not have heard of before.
Being so old, it is no surprise that over the years Edinburgh has garnered a number of different nicknames.
Here are some of them:
One of Edinburgh’s most well-known and traditional nicknames is Auld Reekie. It derives from “Auld Reekie,” a Scots phrase that means “Old Smoky.” It dates back to a time when the city was known for its chimney smoke and smoky atmosphere in general.
The moniker “Athens of the North” emphasizes the historical and cultural importance of Edinburgh. A nod to the Greek city of Athens, it pays homage to the city’s intellectual and cultural accomplishments.
This is a poetic or affectionate abbreviation of the city’s name and is often used by locals.
Edinburgh is known as “The Festival City” because of its many events, including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh International Festival, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
Embra: This is a Scots pronunciation of “Edinburgh,” and it is sometimes used informally, especially in Scots dialect.
The city is actually two in one, the Old City and the New City. The Old Town was founded in around 7 AD whilst the New was much later and formed in the very early 1700’s.
Edinburgh is without doubt one of the most historical cities in the whole of the UK. There is a mountain of strange, quirky, and interesting facts to uncover with regard to its past.
The hillforts surrounding the city are among some of the earliest defence buildings in Britain.
A fearsome tribe called the “Votadini” ruled Scotland including Edinburgh during the Iron Age.
The first Scottish King was called Kenneth MacAlpin known as King of the Picts. He ruled the area for 16 years between 842 and 858 AD.
It is a fact that the national animal of Scotland is the unicorn. A statue of which was erected on Parliament Square in Edinburgh.
Used for coronation ceremonies for centuries, the “Stone of Destiny” was stolen and taken to Westminster Abbey in London during Edward I’s invasion of Scotland in 1296.
Medieval times were tough and dangerous in Edinburgh. Many of the city inhabitants never stepped foot outside the city walls their entire lives.
The city was so small at around 0.2 of a mile, those who lived in the cramped city had no choice but to build homes upwards. Hence it is said that Edinburgh was the birthplace of modern-day skyscrapers.
The first city to employ firemen Edinburgh formed a municipal fire brigade in 1824 following a series of devastating fires in the Old Town.
There are over 4500 listed buildings in the city, the highest number in the UK.
There are 29 vaults and hidden passages underneath Edinburgh’s South Bridge, many are now open to the public.
Naturally, there are going to be many stories, legends, and strange happenings in such an old historic city which is widely believed to be the most haunted place in the world!
Thomas Weir was a high-ranking member of the army, even serving in Ulster during the Irish Rebellion of 1641. However, he had a very dark side. The self-confessed follower of Satan was sentenced to death for his crimes of bestiality, incest, and witchcraft. The home he once occupied has been the subject of much paranormal activity.
Edinburgh Castle is very haunted having been the site of thousands of deaths over the years. Spirits have made their presence known regularly to staff and visitors over the years. Some tell tales of a phantom piper and a headless drummer, ghostly footsteps, and voices.
Greyfriars Kirkyard is an old graveyard. Located in the Old Town area many notable people have been laid to rest here and are said to haunt it. One of the most famous is George McKenzie. He was a barrister and murderer. Poltergeist activity is attributed to his restless spirit.
Edinburgh’s many Vaults are a great tourist attraction but beware. Once home to taverns and shops, they were abandoned in approximately 1795 due to flooding. They became known as no-go areas where criminals and prostitutes conducted business. Now they are home only to ghosts who push, pull and prod intruders.
The most haunted pub the White Hart Inn has its fair share of ghostly happenings too. Dating back to 1516, there are accounts of shadowy forms, unexplained bangs and slamming doors that led to it being named the most haunted pub in 2005.
Well-Known People Born in Edinburgh
Plenty of famous people were born and bred in the city, here are just a few of them:
Thomas Sean Connery (the original James Bond) was born in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh on the 25th of August 1930.
The 1970’s pop group The Bay City Rollers came from Edinburgh.
Rory Bremner impressionist and comedian noted for his work in political satire and impressions of British public figures was born in the city in 1961.
Nicky Campbell broadcaster and journalist. He has worked in television and radio since 1981 and as a network presenter with BBC Radio since 1987.
Ronnie Corbett had a long association with Ronnie Barker in the BBC television comedy sketch show The Two Ronnies. He was born in the city in 1930.
J.M Barrie the creator of the well-loved children’s book Peter Pan was born in Edinburgh in 1860.
Arthur Conan Doyle, another famous writer known most for his creation of Sherlock Holmes was also born in the city in 1859.
Robert Louis Stevenson (born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson) a Scottish novelist, born in 1850 best known for works such as Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Kidnapped and A Child’s Garden of Verses.
John Napier, inventor of logarithms, was born in Merchiston Tower and lived and died in the city.
The pioneer Alexander Graham Bell inventor, scientist and engineer is credited with patenting the first practical telephone.
Edinburgh’s More Random Facts
Some facts about the city are hard to categorise. Here we have assembled a random collection of the most bizarre and interesting.
The Old Town in Edinburgh is home to the Royal Mile, lined with some of the most historic and significant buildings in the city.
The whole New Town area of the city was designed based on the Union Jack flag.
Edinburgh is a very green city consisting of 32 parks and around 650,000 trees. even more than London, which was declared the world’s first National Park City.
The University of Edinburgh was founded in 1582, making it the sixth oldest university in the world.
In 1768, Colin Macfarquhar and Andrew Bell published the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in Edinburgh.
Harry Potter was born in Edinburgh. The author J. K. Rowling wrote the first book in an Edinburgh coffee shop called Nicholson’s.
J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter book series in different locations across the city. The most prominent ones, however, remain the Elephant Café overlooking Greyfriars Cemetery.
Most of the Harry Potter movies were filmed in different locations around the city.
Edinburgh Castle is built on top of a volcano. It last erupted 350 million years ago.
The Castle was famously once home to an Elephant. Shipped over from Sri Lanka, it later became the regimental mascot.
Established in 1947, the Fringe Festival is the world’s largest arts festival. Taking place each year in August, the Fringe is a world-leading celebration of arts and culture.
The Edinburgh Zoo is the first zoo in the entire world to house and breed penguins.
The forerunner of today’s anaesthetics, chloroform was first used in Edinburgh in 1847 by Sir James Young Simpson, a Scottish obstetrician.
Would you Like to Move to Edinburgh?
We hope that you have found all these facts and figures interesting.
Moving to Edinburgh certainly offers a unique blend of history, culture, natural beauty, and economic opportunities, making it an attractive destination for many people thinking of a move to Scotland.
Ultimately, whether Edinburgh is a good place to move to depends on what you value and what you’re seeking in a new city.
Well before you actually make the move, one of the most important factors to consider is how you will transport your belongings.
Since 1871, White & Company have been moving people all over the UK, including Scotland, as well as to destinations all over the world.
We have depots covering the whole of the UK and Scotland so we can move you to or from anywhere you want to be.
We are members of the highly respected industry regulator BAR (British Association of Removers). Choosing a BAR Member gives you the peace of mind that only comes from using a reputable, professional, and financially protected remover.
We are easily contactable via our online chatbot, by phone or simply by completing and submitting our online quotation.
However you prefer to contact us, we can send you our no-obligation quotation for your move in no time at all, bringing you one step closer to living in your new home.
Max is a seasoned writer and blogger in the real estate and home moving sectors, as well as a knowledgeable source of information for expatriates living and working abroad. His detailed insights have helped thousands of people move and live abroad with greater simplicity and ease.