Holyrood Park and Scott

Scott influenced the creation of the ‘Radical Road’ along Salisbury Crags

Holyrood Park’s dramatic hills and crags shape Edinburgh’s unforgettable skyline, and its history and archaeology span thousands of years.

In 1820, Scott suggested unemployed weavers be put to work creating the ‘Radical Road’ along Salisbury Crags in the park.

In the early 1800s, hunger and poverty were widespread. Amid mass unemployment and low wages, the price of grain doubled. Only 1 in 500 people in Scotland could vote. Strikes and calls for reform were violently suppressed by government forces, and the protest leaders executed.

Scott's saw the protestors as ‘disloyal’ troublemakers, disbelieving their poverty. Mindful of the French Revolution, Scott raised his own troops from among his tenants to protect the established order.

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Listen to 'No Pity'

Hear Scott's view of reformers in the ‘Radical War’ of 1819-20. Scott suggested that unemployed weavers be put to work creating the ‘Radical Road’ along Salisbury Crags.

Read 'No Pity'

The danger is I think daily decreasing. The Radical scoundrels had forgot there were any men in the country but their own rascally adherents but have been woefully chop-fallen since the rising took place.

The alacrity of the Yeomen is beyond all praise. Glasgow was full of them on the fatal Monday when the insurrection was expected; great whacking fellows with long broadswords & fine horses.

Lord Elcho has a corps here of eighty young gentlemen mounted upon capital horses.

We expect when our levees* are complete to be sent to Carlisle or to Northumberland where they are crying Gods mercy and begging for help.

Is it not a shame for Percy to be sending for the men of Teviotdale? But he is right-they are the better stuff - After all I am sure the dogs will not fight and I am sorry for it - One days good kemping would cure them most radically of their radical malady & if I had any thing to say in the matter they should remember the day for half a century to come.

I have no pity on these scoundrel pit-men and coalliers who have more employment than they chuse to take & yet are drinking their gin to the toast of Blood and plunder.

* Probably meaning ‘forces to be raised’ – from the French, lever, to raise

Sir Walter Scott - Celebrating 250 Years

In 2021-22, Scotland celebrates the 250th anniversary of one of its most famous sons, Sir Walter Scott. This online exhibition and audio trail of his legacies is part of the celebrations.

'No Pity' has been performed by Edinburgh actor Gavin Paul, who is looking forward to visiting some of these important historical sights.