Interesting article in the Scotsman – Lost Edinburgh: The Nor’ Loch
THE LUSH, tranquil gardens which grace the centre of Edinburgh offer a stark contrast to the wretched and harrowing events which took place on the site of Princes Street Gardens centuries ago.
The precise origins of the Nor’ Loch are much contested. There is evidence to suggest that a large body of water existed in the valley to the north of the Castle Rock as far back as 15,000 years ago – the deep valley being a product of the last ice age.
As well as being the city’s most popular suicide spot and the scene of numerous violent murders, the banks of the Nor’ Loch were frequently used as a place where brutal punishments were carried out.
Executions and public ‘dookings’ were commonplace, with huge crowds gathering to witness the event. One of the more gruesome tales involved a Mr Sinclair and his two sisters who were sentenced to death for incest in 1628.
Prior to the Scottish Enlightenment, it is estimated that more than 300 men and women were sentenced to be tried for wizardry and witchcraft either in the Nor’ Loch itself or around its banks. The process was barbaric with victims being tied up thumb-to-toe, dragged down the muddy slope towards the loch and thrown into the water like rats.
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