Ooh look! A pretty heart! What could I possibly write about that?
This heart before you is the namesake for both a famous Scottish Football club and a Sir Walter Scott novel as well as the site of public executions and the Porteous riots of 1736.
You will find a deviation in the classic cobblestone streets on the west side of the High Street, just outside the very ornate St. Giles Cathedral, in the form of a mosaic heart. The heart of Midlothian, as it is called, marks the spot upon the Royal Mile where the 15th century Old Tolbooth once stood. The building since torn down was once a prison as well as the city's administrative centre. Inmates and Administrative Assistants, sounds like a rollicking reality series showcasing office gossip and neck tattoos! But seriously, it is said that the heart signifies the door to the Tolbooth which was once spat on as a proverbial 'Damn the Man' in its day to show ones detest for the Institution known for collecting taxes and its hangings without a trial. This tradition persists, carried on today with the Heart, pictured above, as the modern day target.
From a geographical, if not local government standpoint, the heart in the middle of the road happens to have originally marked the centre of the Midlothian District or county.The title remains today, but no longer marks the centre being as though of the Edinburgh Council separated politically from the Midlothians several decades ago.
More reasons to send some saliva onto the streets of Edinburgh include:
- As romantic tourist legend will have it, to spit on the heart is to one day return to Edinburgh
- Spitting to bring your football team, the Heart of Midlothian or simply the Hearts, good luck
- Spit to spite the Hearts your local football club's rival, especially if you are a Hibernian or Hibs fan
- Expel some sputum if you are anti-establishment
- For general good luck (probably the watered down interpretation told to the kiddies)
- Spit out of tradition for the sake of tradition
Whatever the reason, go hock-a-lougie at the Heart of Midlothian and locals likely won't bat an eye.
Here is a little video recap of what you just read to help us get to the heart of the folklore surrounding the Heart of Midlothian. (thank you PeterPiperPeppers)
In future I might be more inclined to take into consideration that a simple heart on the road might not be so simple after all.
expectorate on edinburgh, erin x