Delving under Scotland’s oldest streets

Scotland’s vibrant towns and cities are integral to the country’s heritage. Under the streets of many Scottish towns which were medieval in origin, lies fascinating and important archaeology. We take a look at just a few of Scotland’s oldest streets

The Old Tolbooth, Edinburgh, location of Scottish Parliaments from the mid-15th century to the mid 17th century. Picture:

Royal Mile, Edinburgh

The Royal Mile runs down the East shoulder of a once active volcano, which is where the street derives its distinguishable geographical location and is known as the Medieval Street in Edinburgh.

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Although the majority of buildings have been demolished, there is still remnants of the Old Town. Located on the street is John Knox House, which is one of the oldest in the city. It was mostly built in the mid-1550’s but with parts dating back to 1470.

Deep inside Mary King's Close beneath the Edinburgh City Chambers in the High Stret

The majority of the buildings were rebuilt in the 18th and 19th century.

Rottenrow, Glasgow

Rottenrow is often regarded as the oldest street in Glasgow and dates back to cities medieval beginnings. It’s said that it occupied the line of a Roman highway, from the south through Clydesdale.

Drygate, Glasgow

Lawnmarket and Melbourne Place corner on George IV Bridge Edinburgh Melbourne Place now demolished.

Drygate is said to be the oldest thoroughfare in the city.

The street was named the priest’s road. The word dry derives from Germany and is the name by which every German priest was called.

A house was erected on Drygate during the reign of Robert the Third in the 14th century.

Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh

Oliver and Boyd Printers Tweeddale Court Edinburgh - Entrance and sign in High Street

Archaeologists at Historic Scotland suggest that Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh could be one of Scotland’s oldest streets.

The 17th century close is one of the many underground streets that were built over during the modernisation of the old town. The street now lies buried beneath underneath Edinburgh City Chambers.

Many citizens of the street were quarantined in their homes following the breakout of the plague. Mary King’s Close is said to be haunted by the ghosts of those who were entombed in their homes.

Perth High Street, Perth

Perth High Street

Many believe that Perth was founded in 1210. During the medieval period Perth was considered the de facto capital of Scotland and an important centre for trade and industry.

It was located only a short distance from the ceremonial centre of Scone where Scottish kings were crowned. A recent excavation of Perth High Street found the remains of 29 buildings and 3 smaller structures, largely of timber.

It was the largest group of medieval buildings excavated anywhere in Scotland.

Seagate, Dundee

Seagate was the first area of settlement in Dundee, said to be in the 11th century and remains one of the city’s oldest surviving streets. The street was a market centre until the town gradually developed westwards.

41-43 Rottenrow, 1964