I have to confess I’ve walked past the spot thousands of times before I actually realised it was anything to pay attention to! It’s not the prettiest of spots but an interesting story.
Holyrood Park is my local green space. It’s actually a Royal Park associated with Holyrood Palace and managed by Historic Scotland. It’s most famous landmark is Arthur’s Seat, the large extinct volcano that towers over the city, but recently I’ve become aware of another landmark, far more modest, within the park.
At the east side of the park, on Duke’s Walk, is a small pile of stones which look like just that to most passersby. However, the stones are actually a Cairn (a pile of rocks used as a marker) to remember a lady named Ailie Muschat.
On 17 October 1720 Ailie Muschat was murdered on the sight of the Cairn by her husband. The story is that he’d tried multiple times to frame her for adultery and murder her but had been unsuccessful – until that night. He took her into the park and cut her throat because he’d grown tired of her!
Her husband was sentenced to death for the murder and hung in the Grassmarket, not far from the Park.
After the murder locals passing the spot would lay a stone as a traditional act of marking what had happened there. The original Cairn was removed at some point and a new one created in the 1800s.