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Mysterious tunnels prove hit with tourists

posted 20 Mar 2012, 15:24 by Alistar Frater   [ updated 20 Mar 2012, 15:29 ]

Gilmerton Cove has become one of Edinburgh's most highly rated tourist attractions since it opened in 2003.

A network of secret underground tunnels have turned an Edinburgh suburb into the latest hotspot on the city's heritage tourist trail.

Gilmerton Cove has proved to be one of the most highly rated attractions since it reopened in 2003 following a five-year collaborative project between Gilmerton Heritage Trust and The City of Edinburgh Council.

Users of the website TripAdvisor have rated it more highly on average than Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Scotland and the city's zoo.

The caves have been inhabited for at least 300 years and various theories exist about what they were used for, among them that they may have been a meeting place for the Covenanters, who were persecuted in the 17th century for opposing the religious reforms of King Charles I.

Records show they were inhabited by George Paterson, a blacksmith, in the 18th century, but archaeologists say the network could not have been dug by one man and believe they may date back centuries.

Tour guide Margaretanne Dugan said: "The Covenanters may have hid down here. They signed the National Covenant 1638, so it would have been ideal for secret religious worship.

"We also have some Masonic marks on the table tops, so perhaps it was a gentlemen's secret club."

And in keeping with Edinburgh's traditions, there are even claims that the passageways may be haunted.

Ms Dugan said: "One of our trustees asked the question: what lies beyond the rubble in this room? Well, I kid you not, when we played back the recording you can hear a voice saying: [whispers] never mind."

Source: STV News