This is a great little story-telling spot for those in a hurry. Located right on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, when I mention this little history nugget around locals, it’s rare to come across someone who knows what I’m talking about.
Near the centre of the Royal Mile you’ll come across the entrance to Paisley Close (it’s on the left-hand side if you’re coming down the Mile). At first glance, it looks a lot like all the over closes shooting off the main street; narrow dark alleyways with arched entrances. But if you look again, you’ll see this one is a little different – it is engraved with the face of a little boy.
As locals, we’re spoiled by the abundance of Edinburgh’s quirky little stories built within its architecture. This is perhaps why so few have heard the story of the Heave Away Hoose. The tale goes that by the 1800s, a lot of the 300-year-old buildings on High Street were really starting to deteriorate. The tall houses on Paisley close (99 to 103 High Street) finally collapsed under the strain, killing 35 people. For days, the locals worked on removing the rubble and (just when they thought there were no survivors) heard a small voice shout, “Heave awa lads I’m no deid yet.”
When the buildings were reconstructed, the young boy, sole survivor of the disaster, was immortalised in the new stone. The engraving includes both his face and his cries, however, ‘lads’ was swapped for ‘chaps’ to appease Victorian tourists.