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Visiting Scotand: Edinburgh's Greyfriars Bobby, the Dog a Community Loved

Updated on August 23, 2016

Greyfriars Bobby Statue

Statue of Bobby used with permission
Statue of Bobby used with permission | Source

Edinburgh's Favourite Ghost: Greyfriars Bobby

If there is one ghost that haunts Edinburgh without instilling fear, it is the ghost of a little Skye terrier dog.

Bobby belonged to John Gray, who worked for the Edinburgh City Police as a night watchman, and the two were inseparable. On 8 February 1858, Gray died of tuberculosis and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, the graveyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Bobby, who survived Gray by fourteen years, is said to have spent the rest of his life sitting on his master's grave. Many people tried to take him home but he always returned to the grave. In 1867, when it was argued that a dog without an owner should be destroyed, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir William Chambers-who was also a director of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-paid for a renewal of Bobby's licence, making him the responsibility of the city council.

Bobby died in 1872 and could not be buried within the cemetery itself, since it was regarded as consecrated ground. He was buried instead just inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard, not far from John Gray's grave.

His ghost is said to often be seen on or near the grave.

Greyfriars Bobby - died January 14th 1872. John Gray - Master of Greyfriars Bobby - died 8th February 1858

Greyfriars Bobby image - under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Bobby's headstone

"Greyfriars Bobby - died 14th January 1872

aged 16 years

Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all".

Skye Terrier

Skye Terrier
Skye Terrier | Source

What kind of a dog was Bobby? A Skye Terrier

Bobby was a Skye Terrier. Small and elegant the breed have a sturdy little body and strong muscles. Generally these terriers have two coats, an undercoat and an outer coat which helps to protect them for temperature changes. Known to be extremely affectionate, they thrive on attention.

The feisty little dogs originated on the west coast of Scotland, mainly the Isle of Skye. Records show them existing from around the sixteenth century so they have a proud history. They were used to hunt especially foxes, rats and rabbits.

Skye Terriers

Skye Terriers
Skye Terriers | Source

Have you heard of Greyfriar's Bobby

Have you heard about Greyfriar's Bobby?

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Fun facts about Skye Terriers

  1. Skye terriers are actually among endangered species. There has been a worrying decline in the numbers born in recent years.
  2. They had their own Highland Gathering or Homecoming in 2013 attended by Princess Anne the Princess Royal.
  3. The Skye Terrier Club has its own Facebook page for anyone who wants to encourage responsible ownership of these lovely dogs.
  4. These puppies shouldn't be exercised too often when very young. Their little leg bones are still developing and need special care to prevent bowing and subsequent problems. Even fully grown they need less than an hour walking a day. They do need a lot of attention though.
  5. They are sometimes called 'dog of the earth' and will happily disappear down burrows made by rabbits or badgers.
  6. They are fiercely independent which means they can sometimes be hard to train but they are fiercely loyal once they adopt you.
  7. They only grow to about 20 cms in height. It's a small dog with a big personality.
  8. They generally live for 10 to 12 years.
  9. They can be aggressive if not properly socialized when young. Not to be trusted with other small dogs, cats or small children.
  10. You need to groom them regularly to keep their long coat in top condition.
  11. Adorable as they are, these dogs need an experienced owner.

Trailer for the film Greyfriars Bobby

The movie

Greyfriars Bobby
Greyfriars Bobby

Such an endearing story had to be made into a movie and who better to do it than Walt Disney? Better have the tissues handy!


The National Gallery of Scotland Edinburgh

The National Gallery of Scotland Edinburgh - the Athens of the North
The National Gallery of Scotland Edinburgh - the Athens of the North | Source

Edinburgh Old Town

Part of Edinburgh Old Town
Part of Edinburgh Old Town | Source

More places to visit in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in Britain and it is well worth spending as much time as you can there. Wander the Old Town with it's independent shops, narrow streets and steep hills. Or wonder at the buildings in the New Town and it's elegant architecture.

There are numerous galleries and museums including the National Art Gallery of Scotland which is a personal favourite. There is a permanent exhibition but they also showcase some wonderful temporary ones - worth checking the events diary.

If you like spooky - don't miss Mary King's Close. Underneath the city is anther city, dating back to the 17th century I think. You can experience what life might have been like back then on their daily tours. You can even have your own Dark Tour during the Edinburgh Festival or visit on Halloween and meet the ghosts in person.

Best known I suppose is the Edinburgh Festival held every August but the city host other festivals you might enjoy if you can't get there then. For example there is a Science Festival, a Film Festival and a Storytelling Festival. Visit Scotland has details.

There are gardens and parks to walk and sit, there are art events, theatres and cinemas, pubs and restaurants you don't want to miss and you can shop till you drop. Climb Arthur's Seat or visit the old castle or the new parliament building. Edinburgh has so much to offer you will need more than one visit to enjoy it all.

2014 is Homecoming Scotland with everything you could possible want to see and do in Scotland throughout the year. You still have time to be part of this so check it out.

Bute House in the New Town

Bute House in Charlotte Square is the official residence of the First Minister of Scotland. Part of the wonderful architecture of the New Town.
Bute House in Charlotte Square is the official residence of the First Minister of Scotland. Part of the wonderful architecture of the New Town. | Source

Isn't this an endearing story about Greyfriars Bobby?

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    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 3 years ago from Valencia, California

      Funny, of all the pages I have read and those whom I follow, if there was one person I expected to write about this, it would have been you ;) Thanks for sharing Annie

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 3 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Always loved the story of Greyfriars' Bobby - visited his grave several times!

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 3 years ago from Scotland

      I am embarrassed to tell you I have never been - We DO love the film though :)

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      Seems like a great film and a great story. Nice lens

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

      Fascinating tale. Enjoyed reading about him. I am glad he was buried near his master.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      I remember reading about this dog's devotion many years ago (when I was a kid). It made a big impression on me.

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 7 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      thanks also to Wednesday Elf - the reply thingy isn't working on your comment. I do appreciate all your visits, comments and congratulations.

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 7 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      @hexagon: thanks hex

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 7 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      @hexagon: thanks hex

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 7 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      @indigoj: thanks so much x

    • profile image

      hexagon 7 years ago

      Congratulations on your 100th lens!

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I'd never heard of Greyfriar's Bobby, but very pleased to learn this fascinating story. Congratulations on your 100th lens!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      Lovely to find Greyfriar's Bobby featured on Squidoo, I have a little about him in my Edinburgh Quiz so will lensroll this to it!