Old Calton Burial Ground to remain closed until end of April

Old Calton Burial Ground, Old Calton Cemetary, Waterloo Place is closed to the public. Pic Lisa Ferguson
Old Calton Burial Ground, Old Calton Cemetary, Waterloo Place is closed to the public. Pic Lisa Ferguson
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A HISTORIC graveyard is set to remain closed for at least another month after it was sealed off to the public for repairs to ancient monuments.

Old Calton Cemetery – where the likes of philosopher David Hume and scientist John Playfair rest – was locked in December, preventing access to the grounds.

The council confirmed today that the popular tourist attraction, which lies at the heart of the city and is featured in many trails around the Capital, will not reopen before the end of April.

Signs posted on the locked gates state that the site is “closed due to essential maintenance” and advise visitors to contact Mortonhall Crematorium for further information.

Ian Mowat, chair of the New Town and Broughton community council, said it was important the graveyard is reopened as soon as possible, as it is an integral part of the local community.

He said: “It would be nice to see it reopened soon.

“It is such a well known and historic part of the our community.”

Old Calton Cemetery was first opened in 1718 and is the resting place of several renowned Scots, including clergyman Robert Candlish, publishers William Blackwood and Archibald Constable, and a series of other philosophers and scientists.

It is also the site of the Political Martyrs’ Monument, an obelisk erected in memory of a number of political reformers, and Scotland’s American Civil War Memorial.

In 2014, it featured in Scotland’s first Democracy Trail, a book which follows the emergence of democratic thought and action in Scotland from the 16th century onwards – linking pivotal events to locations along the way.

As well as the burial ground, some of the stops along the trail include the Mercat Cross, the focal point for some of the Capital’s most violent protests and riots, and Regent Road, which was the focus of a democracy vigil in the 1990s, which ran for five years.

Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage, dubbed the cemetery as “incredibly important” to the city and called for better marketing to tell its story.

He said: “Old Calton Cemetery is where all the great people of the city were buried from 1660 onwards. It was a trades graveyard – where all the middle classes were buried.

“Each of the individuals that have been laid to rest there all have a great story to tell.

“It’s a well-known tourist attraction and an important part of the city.”

He added: “It would also be great if we were able to find the right type of investment for a graveyard like this.

“If you walk in there, it’s just the names of the people that are displayed on the graves.

“There is nothing about who they were, or their story.”

The council said the graveyard was closed for routine repairs and insisted there were no fears over safety.

A spokeswoman said: “Many of the structures in this cemetery are hundreds of years old, and we routinely check and make them safe if necessary. The safety of the public is a priority, and the cemetery will reopen as soon as this work has been completed.”

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com