5 days ago
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Edinburgh's Closes and Wynds
A close provided entry to a tenement, and sometimes access to the rear of the building. There was often a gate across the entrance that could be locked at night to "close" the alleyway.
One of the most famous of Edinburgh's closes, now a popular tourist attraction, Mary King's Close, was notable for a particularly gruesome event n the 17th century. In 1645 many residents of the close fell victim to the plague, and so in order to try and contain the disease, city officials bricked up the entranceway to the alley, leaving the residents within to slowly perish. It was never re-opened and eventually built over but the guided tours now take you down through the various layers of the tenements to the steeply sloping close. They are lead by guides in period costume who tell the stories of the various layers of life and society. Unfortunately no photos are allowed as the building overhead is a Government one!
Now many closes are much more open, often at both ends, although there are still quite a number gated and leading to residences.