Gilmerton Cove of Edinburg

Dec 21, 2016 2 comments

Just a few meters beneath the streets of Gilmerton, an ex-mining village on the southern edge of the city of Edinburgh, in Scotland, lies a series of underground passageways and chambers hand-carved from sandstone. The Gilmerton Cove, as it is called, has been known for centuries, but its age and purpose has been baffling people for generations.

The traditional theory is that the Cove was the work of George Paterson, a local blacksmith who is said to have completed this underground dwelling house in 1724 after five years of hard labor. His subterranean home had intricately carved stone tables and benches, skylights, drainage gutters, including a mysterious, deep, vertical pit. It is known that George Paterson used the caverns as a tavern, and many of the town’s gentlemen descended below the ground covertly to drink during Sabbath. But archeological studies conducted at the turn of the last century suggests that Gilmerton Cove was excavated long before George Paterson’s days.


Photo credit: John Dale/Flickr

Since then there has been many theories as to who made the caves and what they were used for. Possible suspects include the Knights Templar, the Masons, the Druids, and smugglers.

A comprehensive investigation of Gilmerton Cove in the 2000s concluded that the Cove had been so regularly used and reused over recent centuries that all meaningful archeological evidence of its origins had been lost.

The cove is now owned by the Gilmerton Heritage Trust and is open to visitors.


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Sources: Undiscovered Scotland /


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