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Blog - Story of Greyfriars Bobby (Edinburgh)

Posted on 22/07/2013


AN EDINBURGH TAIL
 

The heart-warming story of the little dog who loved his master so much he could not leave his side even in death is one of Edinburgh and Scotland's best-loved folk tales.

In the most commonly told version of the story, Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier owned by Edinburgh police nightwatchman John Gray. After John dies in 1858 and is buried in Geyfriars Kirkyard, the graveyard at Greyfriars Kirk, Bobby becomes known for his unstinting loyalty to his former owner. For 14 years, he sits patiently by the grave of his master, faithfully guarding him like he had when he was alive, until his own death and burial nearby in 1872.
The story has been told and re-told - orally, in literature and in film by Walt Disney - ever since and has generated a tourism industry around it. 

greyfriars bobby
 

BOBBY IN THE CITY TODAY
 

Many tourists, captivated by the warmth of the tale of the world's most faithful hound, take the opportunity to drink in the living history of Greyfriars Bobby when they visit the city. 
 
Reputably haunted, the historic Greyfriars Kirkyard, in Edinburgh Old Town, where the legendary terrier sat in quiet mourning can be visited to this day. Bobby's red granite headstone was erected there in 1981 by the Dog Aid Society and is still lovingly kept in the atmospheric graveyard. His master's grave, where Bobby famously kept his lonely vigil all those years, is near the entrance.
 
The famous life-size bronze statue of Bobby, erected after his death in 1872, sits on a fountain at the end of the George IV Bridge, keeping watch over the city as he had done over John Gray's grave. The statue is Edinburgh's smallest listed building and also one of its best-loved and most iconic, although water to the fountain was turned off due to health concerns in the 1950s.
 
For those wanting to get even closer to Bobby, the collar he wore as he sat at John Gray's graveside is still on display in the city's acclaimed Museum of Edinburgh. The collar was given to Bobby by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir William Chambers, when he paid for his licence in 1867. Also in the museum, which is situated in a 16th Century building in Canongate, are Bobby's feeding bowl, the original plaster model for the statue at the bridge and pictures of some of the people who fed him.

    Greyfriars Bobby Collar