The touching story of Edinburgh Castle’s dog cemetery

More than 20 dogs are commemorated in the unusual dog cemetery within Edinburgh Castle's walls
More than 20 dogs are commemorated in the unusual dog cemetery within Edinburgh Castle's walls

Hidden within the grounds of Edinburgh Castle, a dedicated dog cemetery may be the landmark’s strangest feature.

There are a huge number of fascinating historical stories hidden within the walls of Edinburgh Castle, but perhaps none so curious and touching as the tale behind the castle’s dog cemetery.

The small green space is thought to have originally been the site of a medieval tower, but since 1840 it has been the final resting place for regimental mascots or honoured dogs belonging to high-ranking soldiers.

The cemetery is referenced in this verse from the Scottish Bard, Robert Burns:

“Berkin dugs here lie at rest
The yappin worst, obedient best
Sodgers pets and mascots tae
Still the guard the castle to this day”

One of only two like it in Scotland, the unique graveyard is home to more than 20 headstones.

Sadly, several of the inscriptions have worn away over the last century or so, probably thanks to Edinburgh’s signature chilly, wet and windy weather.

Of the engravings still visible, the oldest dates back to 1881 - a dedication to Jess, band pet of the Black Watch 42nd Royal Highlanders.

The newest headstone in the cemetery belongs to Winkle, the “dear and faithful friend of Lady Gow and the Governor”, who died in 1980.

Other faithful pups laid to rest here include Yum Yum, Tim and Dobbler, who travelled as far as China, Sri Lanka and South Africa with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

These days, visitors to the castle cannot enter the cemetery, but it can be viewed from above.