Today was Doors Open Day in Edinburgh, meaning that normal, every day folk, such as myself, were allowed into super secret, special places like the Anatomy Museum and the Calton Hill Observatory.  So off I went with fellow Uni of Edinburgh postgrad,  Mylne’s court dwelling, Virginia raised comrade in Scotland adventures Margaret.  And this was my day:

It started at the Anatomical Museum, which we wanted to see because it hosts the body of the infamous and incredibly publicized murderer William Burke who killed people to sell their bodies to the medical institute at Edinburgh.  Since the school desperately needed cadavers for dissection, they paid well and didn’t look too closely.  Burke and his pal Hare found this to be a very lucrative business for some time.

His punishment was to be hung, dissected (appropriate, right?) and then put on display (Bodysnatchers, Ye Be Warned).  So basically I was able to see his skeleton as part of his ongoing punishment.  Talk about a life sentence…

They didn’t let you take pictures in the actual museum.  I guess when you have skulls and body parts in jars (it was pretty gross!), cameras are verboten.  But I did get to see Burke’s skeleton!  It was… educational?

Which of the people above does not belong?  Actually, that’s just a student who fell asleep in class.  No one bothered to wake him up… and yeah.  Let that be a lesson to all of you lazy students out there: Ye Be Warned As Well!

A student who failed to turn in a paper is kept in that body bag for lectures… The Uni of Edinburgh takes its courses very seriously.

The speaker gave a lecture on the anatomy department and how their need for cadavers started up a pretty widespread graverobbing business.  If people didn’t want to worry about their loved ones being dug up, they had to do things like sit by the graves until the bodies were too unpleasant to use or pay for a heavy stone to be laid across the top.  The slide above was another innovative way to keep people out for a while.

And here’s a cast of Burke’s face!  He owned a boarding house and a moment of opportunity involving a person dying in his building inspired the operation with his boarder, Hare.

It’s truly amazing how many bodies they carted over and were paid for without anyone really becoming suspicious for quite some time.

They only had circumstantial evidence, so they convinced Hare to turn on Burke so that they would at least get one killer.  No one knows what happened to Hare.  He got to go free from the murder charges, though, which seems just a little bit unfair.

After the lovely talk about murderers and dead bodies at the Anatomy Lecture Theatre, we made our way across the city to Calton Hill Observatory, which was fabulous.  It was another incredibly perfect, blue-skies day that, you know almost never happens in Scotland.  Yeah, whatever.   Our first tour was at the Observatory House, which was built in the 1700’s, but has since been refurbished.  You can actually rent it!
All the rooms were adorably decorated in plaid and stripes and old furniture.  They had gone through a lot of trouble to renovate the property not long ago so that people could stay and visitors could come.

Can I just say that every single window had a ridiculously nice view?  Seriously, every bedroom, every sitting room…  I was even walking up the stairs and had to stop and just stare out the window.

I loved the round dining room.  A large part of the house was a large round tower so three rooms stacked over each other were circular.  The top room had a great dome.

The fireplaces are originals.

I did enjoy the plaid tablecloth over the table in the dining room…

I think this must be my room.  See the turquoise accents?  Yes, this must definitely be my room.

Notice the antique power outlet on the floor in the hallway.  How long has that been around for?  Scotland is just so old!

I did love the circular bedroom just for its circle-ness.  Just imagine the possibilities.  And yellow wallpaper with a nice curly pattern… cue short story references from the English lit nuts…

I could definitely get used to walking out my front door and seeing this view…

I am also extraordinarily fond of the trees arching over the path leading up to the house.  That is amazingly awesome.

They call Edinburgh the “Athens of the North” for a reason… check out the Poser Parthenon.

It was just this kind of day…

And then, of course, we had to climb to the top of the tower.  Because it was there. 

I love ivy on walls!  It is on my list of favorite things… Or, if I had a list, it would be on it.  Probably.

Admiral Nelson.  He was awesome.

 Hey, I was up there the other day!
 And I was just there!
 And I can see where I live from here!
 And I was just there too… That’s the whole house, by the way.

The big columned building with the dome that looks like it belongs either in Greece or DC right in the middle is where we are headed next.  It’s where they used to use the telescope to watch the stars and mark time.

Down below, you can see Canongate Kirk, a church I stopped by in off of the Royal Mile on one of my walks.  If you don’t remember, it’s the one with the statue of the famous poet Robert Fergusson.  Next to it was the awesome garden that I want my mom to replicate.

Inside the observatory, we get to see an old telescope that is only used to mark time.  Don’t ask me how.  I listened.  There were words.  I retained the important ones like definite articles and a few verbs.

I do remember that he said that boats would sail up to get the exact time from the tower.  A ball would automatically drop and a canon would fire to mark one o’clock every day and ships could set their clocks accordingly.  See?  I learned something!

This is the big telescope that actually looks at the sky.  The dome at the top opens and closes and turns!  There are lots of ropes and strings that can be pulled and tugged to move the telescope and open or shut the aperture on the roof or turn the dome.

If you are ever unsure how fun pulling ropes and moving a domed roof can be, just refer back to this picture…

Columns are pretty… Every time I see them, though, I keep thinking about my dad and wondering how he’d feel if he had to switch them out like he did the two story tall ones on the front of our house.  Fortunately, I don’t think these ones are going anywhere.  But don’t worry, Dad.  I made sure that someone had your information, just in case they wanted new ones someday.

Cool shot of columns!  The architect who designed all of these buildings definitely had a thing for Greek architecture.

The canon below is a Portuguese canon that has been all over the world, according to the plaque.  I got a sort of snobby sense from it, like it thought it was better than its surroundings…

We passed by a steep set of stairs labelled “Jacob’s Ladder”.  I have no idea why.  I found it cool, though.

Then we ended up passing by the Robert Burns monument.  It was much smaller and less gothic and ostentatious than the Sir Walter Scott monument, but it was still really nice.  And as we circled the round rotunda looking building, we were surprised and charmed to discover that there was a small folk group performing inside.  They sang “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose” which is one of my favorites.  I was content.

Speaking of red, red roses, there were some beautiful ones planted outside of the monument.

And some peachy-pink ones.

Here’s the view of the monument from the front.  There was a surprising amount of room from the inside.  It didn’t even look like you could go inside at first, but it’s actually quite a spacious little place.  Robert Burns didn’t get a half bad monument after all.

We circled around to the bottom of the Royal Mile and walked all the way back up.  I don’t even want to know how many miles we walked total, but it was a splendidly good day and the weather was magnificent.

I suppose now would be a good time to start writing up flashcards for the two languages I am supposedly learning…