Official Guide to Edinburgh

Edinburgh's 101 Objects - Faith & Nation

Get to know more about the history of Scotland's Faith and Nationhood with Edinburgh's 101 Objects.

*Please note - this unique campaign has now ended, however the majority of objects are still available to see around the city so please continue to browse and enjoy our Edinburgh's 101 Objects itineraries. The information was correct as of 30/07/2019.

Edinburgh has seen some of Scotland's truly defining moments in history, and a number of the relics and artefacts left behind are part of Edinburgh's 101 Objects. Read on to visit the objects that played pivotal roles in our history and helped define our nationhood.

For the objects listed in this itinerary, be sure to check the individual object information, as some may require a ticket for entry. Don't be afraid to mix up your journey either - Edinburgh's 101 Objects allows you to explore our city and its past at your own pace!

The Palace of Holyroodhouse & The Scottish Parliament Building

83 Dirk Hero

[Image credit: Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017 Photographer: Sandy Young]

Begin your journey at the bottom of the Royal Mile where you'll find the Palace of Holyroodhouse - the Royal Family's Edinburgh residence - and the Scottish Parliament Building.

In Holyroodhouse you'll find Object 78 - the bed Bonnie Prince Charlie slept in after his Jacobite army took Edinburgh, and before he continued south in his attempt to take the throne and was ultimately defeated at Culloden. After his departure from Edinburgh the Palace - and the bed - were taken by the Duke of Cumberland.

The Palace is also home to Object 83 - King George IV's dirk - worn during his visit to Edinburgh in 1822, which was a pivotal moment in tartan becoming once again accepted and celebrated along with the kilt as Scotland's national dress.

73 Holyrood Ordinal Hero

[Image credit: Royal Collection Trust /© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017]

Less royal and more religious, make sure you visit Object 73, the Holyrood Ordinal. The book, more than 500 years old, tells the legend of the founding of Holyrood Abbey by Scotland's King David I in 1128, whilst also containing the rules foo the abbey's daily services throughout the year.

Across the road in the Scottish Parliament Building you'll find an item far newer, but no less historically significant. After the Act of Union more than 300 years ago, Scotland's Parliament was absorbed into that of Westminster. Object 89 is a mace created for the 1999 reopening of the Scottish Parliament - a symbol of legislative powers returning north of the border.

Calton Hill

81 National Monument Hero

Walk up Calton Road and up the hidden Jacob's Ladder for spectacular views across Edinburgh's Old Town - and then continue up to Calton Hill to find Object 81 - the famously unfinished National Monument of Scotland, originally intended as a recreation of the Parthenon as the jewel atop Edinburgh's crown of being 'the Athens of the North'.

Tucked away at the back of the hill, overlooking where the Scottish parliament building now stands, is Object 87 - the parliament cairn. Before the Scottish people voted in favour of a Scottish Parliament with devolved powers on 11 September 1997, a vigil for the parliament to be granted was held on Calton Hill for almost five and a half years. The stones used in the cairn's construction come from across the world, each possessing some significance to Scotland.

Head back down from Calton Hill and towards North Bridge, to where it meets the Royal Mile and South Bridge. Turn left and head down towards John Knox House to continue your journey...

The Royal Mile

76 Geneva Bible Hero

Just down from where the bridges meet the Mile you'll come to John Knox House - where you'll find Object 76 - a copy of the Geneva Bible dating to 1572, the first print run in Scotland. This edition of the Bible was part of a movement that saw great resistance to democratise the Christian scriptures, meaning a knowledge of Latin was no longer required to read the Bible. The use of English - as opposed Scots - also proved hugely (and to some controversially) influential on the development of written and spoken language in Scotland.

Carry on back up the Royal Mile until you encounter St Giles' Cathedral ont he left. Here, you'll find Object 77, a handwritten and signed copy of the National Covenant dating to 1638. The National Covenant was drafted as a declaration of independence for the Scottish church in the face of pressure from King Charles I to confirm to the liturgical practices of the Church of England. To many, the document represents a key moment in the development of modern ideas of democracy - a move away from divinely appointed rulers, and towards participation and education for all. 

In the Cathedral you'll also find the intensely ornate Thistle Chapel Ceiling - Object 85 - part of a small area of the cathedral dedicated to Most Noble Order of the Thistlecreated in 1687 by King James VII, a Scottish equivalent to the more ancient English Order of the Garter. The sixteen members of the order have been knighted by the monarch in recognition of their outstanding service to the people of Scotland.

79 Kist Hero

Where the Royal Mile meets George IV Bridge, turn right and take the short walk to the Museum on the Mound. Here you'll see Object 79, a chest that the Bank of Scotland (Scotland's oldest bank) used to protect cash, securities and papers and transfer them to the stronghold of Edinburgh Castle during the 1745 Jacobite Uprising, the bank itself being only 50 years old at the time.

Edinburgh Castle 

71 Crown Jewels Hero

[Image: © Crown Copyright HES]

Edinburgh Castle - the most prominent of the city's landmarks - stands on a mountain inhabited for over 850 years. It's also home to objects that are inextricably linked to Scotland's nationhood. The Stone of Destiny - Object 70 - and the Scottish Crown Jewels - Object 71 are both held within the Castle. The stories behind these unique objects reveal the histories behind Scotland and its monarchs.

The Castle is also home to Object 72 - Mons Meg, a cannon constructed in 1449 and last fired in 1680 to celebrate the visit of James VII. Capable of firing a 250kg stone ball over a distance of 3.2km, Mons Meg was state of the art firepower in her day.

Extra Points - Off the Path

If you're feeling energetic and/or adventurous, there are a few objects that you'll find off the path of this itinerary, but are still worth visiting to learn more about Scotland's hisotry of faith and nation. 

68 St Marys Hero

Object 68 is a shrine to Scotland's patron saint, St Andrew, in St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral. A hugely influential figure in Scotland's national identity over the centuries, the cross of St Andrew is the basis of the Saltire - Scotland's flag - and pieces of what are believed to be the dead Apostle's bones are kept here.

The Penicuik Jewels - Object 75 - are homed in the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street, and may have been owned by Mary Queen of Scots. While Mary's reign was short, her son James - believed to be depicted alongside his mother in a locket included with the jewels - went on to become king of both Scotland and England.

80 Uniform Hero

While visiting the Museum, take a moment to visit Object 80 - a tartan uniform worn by the Royal Company of Archers. Following the 18th century's Jacobite uprisings, wearing examples of tartan such as this were outlawed until the arrival of George IV into Edinburgh in 1822.

Craigillar Castle is where you will find Object 69 - a Yew Tree that is likely ot have provided shade for Mary Queen of Scots while she recovered after the birth of her son, the future King James VI/I. It's likely the Yew will also have witnessed the plan to murder Mary's husband, Lord Darnley, following his assassination of the Queen's secretary - David Rizzio. 

In Princes Street Gardens you'll come across the life-size statue of Wojtek, an orphaned bear adopted by a group of Polish soldiers who escaped the Nazis during WWII and who was eventually brought back to Edinburgh. Wojtek grew up with the soldiers and even helpd carry ammunition during hostilities, being given the rank of Private and living out his days in Edinburgh Zoo after the war. Wojtek's statue is Object 86

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