Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Scotland Blog IV

Part II The Birthplace of Harry Potter, Edinburgh, Scotland

You only have to walk the streets of old Edinburgh to see and feel where J. K. Rowling got inspiration for the Harry Potter series. From the back windows of The Elephant House, Rowling could see in the distance, Edinburgh Castle and Greyfriars Kirkyard while she wrote the stories that would be loved my children and adults around the world.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle
Just down the road from The Elephant House cafe is Greyfriars Kirkyard, a cemetery where you can find the grave of William McGonagall, a Scottish poet and weaver, believed to be Rowling's inspiration for the name of Professor McGonagall. There is also the grave of Elizabeth Moodie, perhaps where Rowling got the name for Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody (even though Rowling has never confirmed this rumor). And what about the name - Tom Riddle, found on this tombstone?
Thomas Riddell headstone

Greyfriars Kirk
Rowling has said she often took walks through the cemetery that was close to The Elephant House and Spoon, the two places I talked about in Part I of this blog. Greyfriars is more famous for the statue of Bobby, the Skye terrier who is said to have held vigil by his owners grave until his death - 14 years later.
Rowling also found inspiration for Hogwarts school in Edinburgh. There's no doubt Edinburgh Castle was inspirational, but there is also a school nearby called George Heriot's School. Built in 1623, it is still a functioning and prestigious school that has four wings and four "houses" Castle, Lauriston, Raeburn, and Greyfriars like Hogwart's: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.
George Heriot School
In my mind's eye, I see J. K. Rowling standing at Edinburgh Castle looking down at the city of Edinburgh spread before her.

View of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle
It was also in the city itself that Rowling found more inspiration for Harry Potter. As I walked the part of the city called Old Edinburgh, I traversed the streets that make up the Royal Mile, the medieval part of the city that runs from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. Many places along the Royal Mile reminded me of scenes from a Harry Potter movie, but it wasn't until I hit Victoria Street that I knew I had found Diagon Alley! The street curves and you can walk up to the top and look down on the shops that line both sides of the street.
Victoria Street/Diagon Alley

In the midst of Victoria Street is Diagon House - a Harry Potter store that is presented as “purveyors of all things Potter”. It was night by the time I got to go in the store, which only added to the magic! Stepping through that door was like stepping into the movie and if ever I get back to Scotland, I hope it's still there!

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