Before Edinburgh became Scotland’s capital, the tiny Perthshire village of Scone was the capital. Edinburgh became the capital in 1437.
The Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny, is the ancient block of stone on which Scottish Kings sat to be crowned. Since the union of the Scottish and English crowns in 1603, all British Kings and Queens have also been crowned on the Stone (it sits in a recess under the throne during the crowning ceremony). It is now kept in Edinburgh Castle.
Margaret Dickson was hanged in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket in 1724 but later discovered to be alive. Under Scots Law she was set free, but the words “until dead” were later added to the sentence of hanging.
Edinburgh has more heritage buildings than anywhere else in the world, some 16,000 from different periods in the city’s history.
In the 17thcentury, Edinburgh residents believed that rubbing burnt droppings from a dove would cure baldness (don’t try it, it doesn’t!).
Also in the 17thcentury, because people wanted to build their houses inside the city’s walls, Edinburgh became a pioneer in skyscrapers, with some houses having up to 11 stories.
Glasgow University moved to its current location in 1871. Before that it was on the High Street.
The University’s famous Lion and Unicorn Staircase and the Pearce Lodge nearby were originally in the High Street but when the University moved they moved too – stone by stone to the west end, along with the original gatehouse.
The University’s Hunterian Museum dates from 1807 and is Scotland’s oldest public museum. it has a large collection of art and scientific relics including the world’s first-ever ultra sound machine. Students at Glasgow School of English can go on a trip to the Hunterian.
Glasgow claims to have invented the Indian dish, Chicken Tikka Masala. We don’t actually know if this is true, but the story is that local curry house the Shish Mahal invented one of Britain’s favourite dishes in the 1970s, allegedly by throwing together spices and tinned tomato soup!
Glasgow is often rated as the top place for concerts in the UK outside London. If you like music you’ll enjoy it here. There are eight venues in the Top 100 list of places to watch gigs.
The company that created Grand Theft Auto (RockStar North) is based in Edinburgh and the Forth Railway Bridge appears in their 2004 game, Grand Theft San Andreas.
Rose’s Lime Juice is a very famous British drink. It was invented by Lauchlan Rose in 1867 and the first factory to make it was in Leith in Edinburgh.
“You’ll have had your tea?” is said to be the traditional greeting of any Edinburgh householder to a visitor. It means that the visitor will have already eaten and therefore the householder won’t need to put the kettle on! Like all good stories, this has a bit of truth behind it, but don’t worry, Edinburgh people are actually very generous!
The first King of the united Great Britain in 1603 was James VI of Scotland who then became James I of England as the English had not had any Kings called James before then. James was born in Edinburgh Castle.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica, one of the most famous encyclopaedias in the world, was first produced in Edinburgh. It was published in three volumes between 1768 and 1771 and the first edition caused controversy because the anatomy section contained “unvarnished portrayals of the unmentionable parts of the human body.”
Many of our students will take the train or bus to Glasgow, just an hour away from Edinburgh. Here are some interesting facts about Scotland’s biggest city.
Glasgow City Chambers, pictured above and a short walk from Glasgow School of English, is said to have more marble than the Vatican. It was built in 1888 at a cost of £578,232 – the equivalent of £40 million today.
The City Chambers have been used as a stand in for the Vatican and the Kremlin in films.
Glasgow’s subway – the metro/underground railway system – is the only one in Scotland. It’s also the third oldest subway in the world. It is nicknamed the Clockwork Orange, because of the colour of the trains, and it’s an easy and cheap way to get round the city.
In the late 18thcentury, over half the tobacco imported into Britain came through Glasgow.
Although the one in Scotland is the original, there are more than 20 towns named Glasgow in the United States, with several more in Canada.
Anna Maria Aiazzi, Susanne Innocenti and Donatelle Bordati (pictured above) are teachers of English at Chinochini School in Florence in Tuscany in Italy (one of the most beautiful parts of that country, but that’s another story!). Currently, they are here with 26 students from their city, on a study tour/holiday in Edinburgh. They come to the British Isles every year, going to Scotland, Ireland and England consecutively. They kindly agreed to meet to tell us their thoughts about Edinburgh, Scotland and Global School of English.
“We found your school on the internet. We’ve only been here for a few days so far but the teaching, service and facilities are very good. Helen Marshall on reception in particular has been very helpful.
“The families our students are staying with are good too. It makes a big difference having good host families. We have to travel into Edinburgh every day so we get to see a lot of the city. The public transport is very good.
“For most of our students, this is their first time in Scotland. Some have been to Dublin and London. The students are certainly enjoying being in Edinburgh, which we find very safe.
“We’ve been to Stirling Castle and we’re going on a trip to the Highlands and Loch Ness. The myth of the Loch Ness Monster is famous all over the world. Back in Edinburgh, we’re also going to see the Elephant House Café, where JK Rowling began to write the Harry Potter books.
“Our school in Florence is a vocational school, where the students study technical subjects, food and drink management, electronics, etc. They all know that studying English is important because it’s the main world language for business and at some time in their working lives they’ll have to use it.
“However, as well as improving their English, we believe that one of the main benefits of coming to study abroad is that the students get to experience other cultures and peoples. While the food in Scotland is different from our meals at home, and the weather is certainly very different, we find that these are some of the best memories our students take away from these trips. They also learn about the history of these other countries.
“Overall, we are very satisfied with the way everything has gone and we would be happy to recommend Global School of English to anyone who wants to come to study English in the UK.”
Lots of students at Global School travel the short distance to the west to see Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city. It’s very different from Edinburgh. Here are some interesting facts about Glasgow that you might not know.
The Horseshoe Bar in Glasgow city centre was established in 1884 by John Scouller who was a captain in the cavalry. The Horseshoe has the longest bar in the UK, measuring 104ft 4in in length.
The film star Roy Rogers and his horse, Trigger, rode all the way round the Horseshoe Bar in 1954.
Glasgow also has the tallest cinema in the world, the Cineworld in Renfrew Street. It is 62 metres high, has 18 screens spread across six floors and up to 633 people at a time can attend.
Unlike Edinburgh, Glasgow no longer has a castle. However, it does have Castle Street, near the Cathedral. That’s where the castle used to be, but all traces were finally demolished in 1792.
People from Glasgow are called Glaswegians (or ‘weegies’ if you are from Edinburgh!). However, the term is relatively new, being first used by Sir Walter Scott in 1817.
Tancredi Merlo is the leader of a group of 20 students from Veintimiglia in Italy, a town in the Liguria region near the border with France.
Most of the students have never been to Scotland before, but they have enjoyed the two weeks in our country, travelling extensively to the Highlands and going on a boat trip on Loch Ness (although I am assured they did not see the Loch Ness Monster!).
For some of them, it’s their first time away from home without their parents, so the emphasis has been on having fun and visiting as many different places as possible. Tancredi believes that the trip to the Highlands was a highlight and they have also visited Glasgow (“very busy!”), had a Harry Potter tour, been to Edinburgh Castle and lots of museums, and also had a trip to a distillery to learn how Scotch whisky is made. Before they leave they are going to Rosslyn Chapel where they will learn about its connection to the best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code; and they also hope to go swimming at Portobello Baths.
The biggest surprise for the students was the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. They had been to a show almost every night. The show, “Trump, the Musical,” was the best one they had seen, very funny and very different from what they are used when they go to the theatre in Italy!
As regards the School, Tancredi told me that the teachers are good and have looked after the students well. He also praised the style of the teaching and the fact that there are small classes. One particular advantage is that Global School is self-contained so all the students are taught in the same building. He has had experience of other schools where they have hired premises spread across a city, which is not good for the group leaders who, naturally, want to keep an eye on their students. Tancredi also felt that the students have gained in confidence in speaking English, although ideally he thinks that they would have benefited from being here for more than two weeks.
Finally, I asked what would be the one thing that the students would remember most about their trip to Scotland. The answer might be a surprise to many, as he said that it would be the architecture. “Edinburgh is a city with a lot of character,” he told me, “and it’s different from other places they have been and, of course, very different from their home town. However, we have all enjoyed ourselves here and would recommend Global School and Scotland to any other groups thinking of making a trip to improve their English skills and learn about a new country.
Global School currently has two large groups of students, from France and Italy, studying with us. The group leaders and a few students from each country kindly took some time to give me their thoughts about Edinburgh, Scotland and Global School of English. Nicoletta and Fabrizia (teachers), and Giovanni (student) are from Venice, while Filip (teacher), Emilie and Pape (students) are from Paris.
A few of them had not been to Scotland before. Pape said he was pleasantly surprised, telling me, “I like it very much. It seems a peaceful country and the landscape is beautiful.” Everyone agreed that the people they have met, both in Global School and in the street, have been friendly and helpful.
They were all surprised at how good the weather had been during their stay here (we are having a very unusual heatwave in the UK just now!). Giovanni said that the Highlands (in the north of Scotland) “are amazing and the temperatures are really nice for us as Italians – warm, but not as hot as at home!”
Another thing that surprised them was that Edinburgh has many people from all over the world living and visiting the city. Also, as Nicoletta mentioned, Edinburgh is not a very big city by European standards and commuting from their accommodation to the city centre is quite easy, largely thanks to the efficiency of the bus service.
As far as the School is concerned, they were impressed with the atmosphere in the classrooms. Emilie said, “the lessons are really good and the teachers do a great job. Every person participates in the lessons and that helps improve our English.”
When it comes to Scottish food, the three students were all in agreement that fish and chips are excellent, although Pape also said that he really liked Scottish steak pies. None of them had tried haggis yet and when I told them what as in it (basically, the innards of a sheep!) they were not sure they would!
Filip made a point of saying how impressed he was with Edinburgh as a city in which to learn English. “It’s perfect for young people; it’s safe and there is a lot to see and do. One thing in particular that is very good, and different from many European countries, is that the museums here are all free to enter – that’s great as it encourages younger people to visit them and learn about the country’s history, heritage and culture.”
Finally, all three teachers agreed that they would most definitely be back with other groups of students – the best recommendation any School of English can have!
You would expect to find lots of statues in an ancient city like Edinburgh, but did you know that there are more statues of animals than of women? We have the famous Greyfriars Bobby statue and also Wojtek the bear, but only one statue of a woman – Queen Victoria.
Some parts of Edinburgh are REALLY ancient. For example, the rock on which Edinburgh Castle is built is a volcanic plug and over 340 million years old!
Nowadays, we expect every city to have a Fire Service to tackle fires in buildings, but Edinburgh was the first city in the world to have such a service. After a number of fires in the city in 1703, “The Edinburgh Act” was passed and a “Company for Quenching of Fires” was formed. All the firefighters in those days were volunteers.
Global School of English - Edinburgh is recognised by UKVI as a Tier 4 sponsor to bring students into the UK on Tier 4 General Student Visas under licence number 18EC8KTJ.