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Greyfriars Bobby

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Greyfriars Bobby is probably the most famous and loved pet in Scotland.  He was a Skye terrier who, so the story goes, pined for years at his master’s graveside in the cemetery at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh.

The best known version of the story is that Bobby belonged to John Gray, a nightwatchman with the Edinburgh City Police. When John Gray died he was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard. Bobby was then found sitting on his master’s grave and spent most of his time there until he himself died fourteen years later, in 1872.  He was buried just inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard, not far from John Gray’s grave.

A bronze sculpture of the famous dog was designed by William Brodie RSA at the instigation of Baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts, the wealthy daughter of a former Edinburgh Lord Provost.  It was unveiled in November 1873 and stands to this day, just outside the churchyard.

The plaque here reads:
“A TRIBUTE TO THE AFFECTIONATE FIDELITY OF GREYFRIAR’S BOBBY. IN 1858, THIS FAITHFUL DOG FOLLOWED THE REMAINS OF HIS MASTER TO GREYFRIAR’S CHURCHYARD AND LINGERED NEAR THE SPOT UNTIL HIS DEATH IN 1872 WITH PERMISSION, ERECTED BY THE BARONESS BURDETT- COUTTS”

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The cute statue is a mecca for tourists; so much so that his nose is now smooth and shiny thanks to all those affectionate tourists giving him a pat!

In 2013, there was a  Stop People Rubbing Greyfriars Bobby’s Nose – It is not a Tradition Facebook campaign that resulted in Edinburgh City Council arranging restoration of said nose.

“As one of the most famous – and most popular – statues in the capital, it’s only right that he looks his best at all times.  Once we became aware of the local concern it was clear that we had to act and I’m delighted we’ve been able to get specialists in to restore Greyfriars Bobby to his former glory.” – Councillor Richard Lewis

Experts were brought in to clean, re-patinate and wax the affected area.  Unfortunately, the nose job was only temporary; within days it was smooth and shiny once again!  Police believe this was not due to mere lucky rubbing, but to deliberate use of scouring materials and a criminal investigation was launched.  I don’t know if the culprits were ever apprehended.

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Greyfriars Bobby, Candlemaker Row /George IV Bridge.

Updated 27 August 2014.

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