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Gilmerton, Drum Street, the Cove

A Category B Listed Building in Edinburgh, Edinburgh

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Latitude: 55.9056 / 55°54'20"N

Longitude: -3.1331 / 3°7'59"W

OS Eastings: 329256

OS Northings: 668634

OS Grid: NT292686

Mapcode National: GBR 60K4.HV

Mapcode Global: WH6ST.VT7K

Entry Name: Gilmerton, Drum Street, the Cove

Listing Date: 14 December 1970

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 367019

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB28662

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Edinburgh

County: Edinburgh

Town: Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: Liberton/Gilmerton

Traditional County: Midlothian

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Possibly 1719-24. Subterranean cave and tunnels excavated from solid rock. Entered by flight of 12 steps to approx. 10ft below ground. Main passage approximately 40 ft long with rooms and passages on each side. To right at foot of stairs forge-like recess with aperture, room behind has fireplace with oblong panel. 3 rooms with tables and benches carved in curvilinear forms from rock, principal room approx 15ft by 5 ft, central pillar supporting ceiling and 10ft long table at centre with bowl carved at one end. Other rooms to left and right of passage with carved furnishings.

Statement of Interest

There has been much speculation on the date and use of this subterranean structure. Rev Thomas Whyte wrote in 1792 that the Cove had been dug out by Thomas Paterson, a local blacksmith, and was completed in 1724 after 5 years of work. Whyte tells us that Paterson lived in the Cove with his family, and that it became a much-visited curiosity. The carved oblong recess over the fireplace may have contained an insciption by Alexander Pennicuik referring to Paterson?s house (see Gillon p52). In 1897, F R Coles, Assistant Keeper of the National Museum of Antiquites visited the Cove with J Balfour Paul and George Good. He cast doubt on whether Paterson had constructed the cave, and recorded this structure and others like it, suggesting that it is of more ancient date and was merely used by Paterson in the 18th century. There is a local tradition that these passages link up with a network of tunnels, one of which leads to The Drum. Gillon gives a useful contemporary description of the structure, the Cove is currently accessed from the shop above in Drum Street, and is in a vulnerable condition (1995).

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