- Barclay Price
15th March 2022
The sight, sound and smell of animals are a part of the story of every great city – and are also part of its hidden history. The royal standard of Scotland features a lion rampant, and Edinburgh can trace its earliest depiction of the beast to the Roman occupation – long before Scotland evolved into a nation.
As marks of prestige and respect, animals are highlighted in many public sculptures, bas-reliefs and other artworks throughout the city. For centuries animals such as horses were a crucial part of the economy. Horses transported goods and people in and out of the city, while the growth in ownership created a demand for saddlers, coach makers, grooms, fodder suppliers, horse trainers, farriers, smiths and riding schools. Animals were also a source of wonder and amusement, such as the elephant housed in a tenement in the 1700s and the legendary Greyfriars Bobby, who spent fourteen years guarding the grave of his owner and is now immortalised in words, films and monuments. The travelling menagerie of the Regency era gave the ordinary citizen a taste of the exotic and within a few decades Zoological Gardens Association landscaped gardens and built structures to house animals for the city’s latest attraction.