Edinburgh Vaults

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Edinburgh Vaults


The Edinburgh Vaults or South Bridge Vaults are a series of chambers formed in the nineteen arches of the South Bridge in Edinburgh, Scotland, was part of the South Bridge Act 1785 and was completed in 1788. For around 30 years, the vaults were used to house taverns, workshops for cobblers and other tradesmen, as well as storage space for said merchants. In later years, the vaults were a hotspot for the homeless and for criminal activity such as illegal gambling taverns, illegal whisky distillery and, according to rumour, bodysnatchers stored corpses there overnight. There is however no proof that the grave robbers Burke and Hare ever used the vaults.

As the conditions in the vaults deteriorated, mainly because of damp and poor air quality, the businesses left in the 1820s and the very poorest of Edinburgh's citizens moved in, though by around 1860, even they are believed to have left too. That people had lived there was only discovered in 1985 during an excavation, when middens were found containing toys, medicine bottles, plates, and other signs of human habitation.

Thumbnail image credited to Kjetil BjørnsrudAdditional info

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