Scottish Accommodation and Tourism Portal

Exploring Scotland one blog at a time

search scotland on twitter link to search scotland information and scottish directory guide facebook page
Instagram  tunein logo, searchscotland travel podcast on tunein radio
Visit our directory of Scottish Accommodation, travel destinations, Pubs, Restaurants. We also include some fantastic Scottish adventure and activities destinations as well as wedding services in Scotland.

Social media links

Tuesday, 30 October 2012 21:23

Gilmerton Cove

Written by 
Rate this item
(1 Vote)
Cove Unexplored Tunnel Cove Unexplored Tunnel

Gilmerton Cove, four miles south of Edinburgh city centre, is a former subterranean dwelling hewn out of solid rock.


Surrounded by mystery, the official line is that it was all carved in the 18th century by a local blacksmith George Paterson.  It is hard to imagine however how one man could have carved the seven rooms single-handedly, and that is only those found so far.  Bricked up and unexplored passages may lead to further hidden rooms.

In two of the rooms tables have been hewn out of the rock and in the largest of these rooms, there is a deep indentation in the table, known as “the punch bowl”.  In both of these rooms long benches are carved along the walls facing the “tables”, indicating that they must have been used for communal seating.  Over the centuries many people have carved initials and symbols into the tables and seating, including what appears to be the set-square and compasses of freemasonry.

Another room is apparently a bedroom with a stone “bed” in the middle of it, with a long stone representing a pillow at the top of it.  This bed however disturbingly has another “punch bowl” like feature at the foot of it, which some have suggested may have been there for draining blood.  Again, stone benches line either side of this room.  

There is also a deep bore into the ground which has been claimed to be a well but which never reached the water table and which some have suggested may have been a drop into a dungeon.  Another feature known as The Forge shows no sign of scorching and could not possibly have been used as forge as the native sandstone would have split and spat all around in high heat.

Theories abound as to original and subsequent uses of Gilmerton Cove, including that it may have been a meeting place for Covenanters, for a witches coven, the Knights Templar and freemasons, a smugglers’ hideout, or an illegal drinking den.  There are some claims of possible connections with the notorious Hellfire Club of the 18th century; a secret club for men to partake of wine, women and song, and as some claimed, blasphemous and “debased” religious rites.  Whatever the truth, the real reason for the building and use of Gilmerton Cove appear to be lost in the mists of time, making it all the more mysterious.

Tours of Gilmerton Cove by Rosslyn Tours are available 10:00am – 4:00pm Monday to Sunday and are by appointment only.

To book a tour contact Rosslyn Tours on 0845 894 5295 or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Read 1988 times Last modified on Friday, 02 November 2012 20:24
Leslie Thomson

Eternally young former guide on Edinburgh's open-top tour buses.  Self-taught and fascinated by Scots history, I am proud to say I have learned more about it than the average Scot will know in a lifetime.  It is an ongoing process and I find myself still learning to this day.  I am also a folklorist with a vast knowledge of many curious beliefs and untoward events and locations in Scotland in general and Edinburgh in particular.  I adore my home town of Edinburgh and frequently show visitors places many tour guides do not cover and do not even know about.

Featured Listings

Latest Places of Interest

  • Dunblane Cathedral
    Dunblane Cathedral One of Scotland’s noblest medieval churches. The lower part of the tower is Romanesque, but the larger part of the…
  • Balmacara Estate & Woodland Walks
    Balmacara Estate & Woodland Walks Covering 2,550 hectares (6,330 acres) on the Lochalsh peninsula, this traditional Highland crofting estate is a diverse mix of Scotland’s…
  • Staffa National Nature Reserve
    Staffa National Nature Reserve Staffa is the stuff of legend – an unspoilt and uninhabited island of 32 hectares best known for its magnificent…
  • Iona
    Iona The Hebridean island of Iona has a significant history and a special, spiritual atmosphere that continues to attract and inspire…
  • Almond Valley Heritage Centre
    Almond Valley Heritage Centre All the family will enjoy a wonderful day out at Almond Valley Heritage Centre, situated at the heart of Scotland…
  • Skelmorlie Aisle
    Skelmorlie Aisle This jewel-like monument was erected in 1636 for Sir Robert Montgomerie of Skelmorlie.
  • National Museum of Rural Life
    National Museum of Rural Life Escape to the countryside for a full day of family fun at our five-star museum and historic working farm.
  • National Museum of Flight
    National Museum of Flight East Fortune played a major role in both First and Second World War, and is now home to the National…
  • National War Museum
    National War Museum Investigate over 400 years of Scotland at war, within the historic setting of Edinburgh Castle.
  • National Museum of Scotland
    National Museum of Scotland Explore the diversity of the natural world, world cultures, art and design, science and technology and Scottish history, all under…
  • Hugh Miller's Birthplace Cottage & Museum
    Hugh Miller's Birthplace Cottage & Museum Hugh Miller’s Birthplace Cottage & Museum in Cromarty celebrates prominent 19th-century Highland polymath, Hugh Miller – an eminent geologist, writer…
  • The Hill House
    The Hill House High on a hill in Helensburgh, overlooking the River Clyde, sits what is universally regarded as Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s finest…
  • Brodick Castle, Garden & Country Park
    Brodick Castle, Garden & Country Park The quintessential Victorian ‘Highland’ estate, Brodick Castle, Garden & Country Park on the Isle of Arran is the perfect place…
  • Gilmerton Cove
    Gilmerton Cove Gilmerton Cove, four miles south of Edinburgh city centre, is a former subterranean dwelling hewn out of solid rock.
  • Linlithgow Palace
    Linlithgow Palace The magnificent ruins of Linlithgow Palace are set in a park beside a loch.
  • Drum Castle, Garden & Estate
    Drum Castle, Garden & Estate The combination of a 13th-century square tower, a Jacobean mansion house and the additions of the Victorian lairds make Drum…
  • Castle Fraser, Garden & Estate
    Castle Fraser, Garden & Estate Castle Fraser is one of the grandest of the Scottish baronial tower houses.
  • Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot
    Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot Hidden away in the rural idyll of East Linton resides an architectural oddity beloved by artists and photographers. Preston Mill,…
  • Threave Estate
    Threave Estate One of the National Trust for Scotland’s top ten most visited attractions, Threave Estate is the perfect place for a…
  • Kellie Castle and Garden
    Kellie Castle and Garden This superb castle dates from the 14th century and contains magnificent plaster ceilings and painted panelling, fine furniture designed by…
  • New Lanark World Heritage Site
    New Lanark World Heritage Site The village of New Lanark was founded in 1785 by David Dale as a completely new industrial settlement. Cotton-spinning mills, powered…
  • Balvenie Castle
    Balvenie Castle Originally the seat of the powerful Comyn earls of Buchan, Balvenie is a castle of enclosure with massive curtain wall.
  • Doune Castle
    Doune Castle Built for the Regent Albany, Doune Castle is a magnificent late 14th century courtyard castle. 
  • Skara Brae
    Skara Brae The neolithic settlement of Skara Brae lies near the dramatic white beach of the Bay of Skaill. Skara Brae is…
  • Antonine Wall: Rough Castle
    Antonine Wall: Rough Castle The best-preserved length of rampart and ditch, together with the earthworks of a fort – the most complete on the…
  • Castle Campbell and Garden
    Castle Campbell and Garden Dramatically situated above Dollar Glen is the forbidding looking 15th-century fortress, Castle Campbell. 
  • Dumbarton Castle
    Dumbarton Castle Dumbarton was the centre of the ancient kingdom of Strathclyde from the 5th century until 1018. Impressively situated on a…
  • Fort George
    Fort George Following the 1746 defeat at Culloden of Bonnie Prince Charlie, George II created the ultimate defence against further Jacobite unrest.…
  • Mar Lodge Estate
    Mar Lodge Estate Mar Lodge Estate occupies nearly 7% of the Cairngorms National Park, covering in total 29,380 hectares of some of the…
  • Ben Lomond
    Ben Lomond Rising from the east shore of Loch Lomond to a height of 974m (3,193ft), Ben Lomond offers exhilarating walking and…