MAY 2012
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Gilmerton Cove
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 There is an admittance charge. At the time of writing (2012), this is £5 for adults and £4 for children/concessions.
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Gilmerton Cove sign
The stone-hewn passages of Gilmerton Cove
The old cottage in Gilmerton, under which lies Gilmerton Cove
Original plan of Gilmerton Cove, as allegedly hewn out of solid rock by blacksmith, George Paterson
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 Tours.
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 Gilmerton?
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