Of course, we have all heard the expression, “Fit for a king.” Well, in the capital city of Scotland, there is a thoroughfare that was solely constructed for a touring member of royalty. This might be a bit of an exaggeration, but nonetheless, in 1819 a road was christened by Leopold I of Belgium.
Access to the capital from the south was hampered by several difficulties. It would take a few centuries before technology could match the desire to have a thoroughfare that would equal the splendor and ingenuity of the location.
There was a massive gap between Calton Hill and the easterly end of Princes Street. Archibald Elliot designed a bridge that spanned this 50-foot chasm. Construction and implementation fell to Robert Stevenson, father of the famous author Robert Louis Stevenson. The newly minted road was named Waterloo Place.
Another hindrance that needed to be addressed was the burial grounds of Old Calton Cemetery. Permission was given to unearth over 100 graves for construction. The burial sites were re-interred in the New Calton Cemetery.
Today, Waterloo Place separates Old Calton Cemetery into two halves. Unbeknownst to many people, a smaller graveyard lies just across the street from the more famous one.
Part of Elliot’s plan was the creation of two ornate arches that were reflective of the Georgian period. The northern panel reads:
“Commenced in the ever memorable year/1815/ Sir John Majoribanks of Lees. Baronet. M.P./ Lord Provost of the City/ Archibald Elliot, Architect”. The one on the south reads: “Opened August 18th, 1819 for the entry of/ His Royal Highness Prince Leopold of Sax Coburg.”
Know Before You Go
Visible and accessible at all hours of the day.
Visitors may also be interested to find that the location is also home to the only remnants of trolley tracks that exist in the city. They are located around the pedestrian island at the juncture of Waterloo Place and Leith Street.
Access to the hidden portion of Old Calton Cemetery is located behind Howie's Restaurant. Turning the corner of Calton Hill, one will find a set of stairs that takes them into this miniature burial ground.