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A SPECIAL FEATURE FROM SCOTLAND'S ONLINE TOURIST GUIDE
Under an old cottage in Scotland lies something very strange. It is a
series of stone passages and chambers whose original purpose remains a
mystery. Who carved them out of solid rock, and for what reason?
Was Gilmerton Cove built to hide someone? Or to hide something? The
secret lies under the ground.
Gilmerton is a small village that sits just outside Edinburgh, near
Dalkeith. As far back as 1782 it was known that something strange lay
here. It was recorded that a blacksmith, George Paterson, had lived in
the cottage, and that he had carved himself something of an underground
extension out of solid rock back in the 1720s. This is the plan...
Gilmerton Cove is open to the public, by appointment only. You can get
there by catching a bus (Lothian Buses maroon-and-white-coloured
double-decker number 3 from The Bridges in Edinburgh, for example) to
Gilmerton Crossroads. Gilmerton Cove is at 16a Drum Street, Gilmerton.
You can make a booking by calling 0845 8945295, or emailing
firstname.lastname@example.org. There is an
admittance charge. At the time of writing (2012), this is £5 for adults
and £4 for children/concessions.
But it was felt that no one man could have carved such a thing during
the period that he lived there, and as such there have been many
theories as to just how Gilmerton Cove came into existance.
Did I tell you that the village of Roslin is only a few miles away from
Gilmerton Cove? You know what's in Roslin, don't you? Rosslyn Chapel...
Knights Templar, Holy Grail, and all that. It is no coincidence that
Gilmerton Cove tours are managed by an organisation called Rosslyn
So what was Gilmerton Cove built for? What was Gilmerton Cove built to
hide? It has been said that it may originally have been built by miners
back in the 15th or 16th century to give safety to locals from invading
English armies. Later, Covenanters may have used it as a place of
safety. Later still, blacksmith George Paterson occupied the cottage
above and decided to modify what was already there to give him more
space. But George had more than just a house extension in mind. In his
hands Gilmerton Cove became a drinking den. The underground layout
that is attributed to him is utterly fascinating. It is like an early
18th century version of Skara Brae, with stone-carved beds, tables,
seats, and even what looks like a sink!
But are all these speculative musings merely an attempt to detract from
the truth? What did take place at Gilmerton Cove long long ago? What
once lay hidden beneath an old cottage in the small Scottish village of