Heart of Midlothian


in Old Town

Outside the western door of St Giles Cathedral is a cobblestone heart set into the paving that marks the site of the 15th-century Tolbooth. The Tolbooth served variously as a meeting place for parliament and the town council before becoming law courts and, finally, a notorious prison and place of execution. Immortalised in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Heart of Midlothian, the Tolbooth was demolished in the 19th century. Passers-by traditionally spit on the heart for good luck (don’t stand downwind!).