Thursday, 9 October 2014

Take a Walk in the Footsteps of the Justified Sinner (Part 2)

St Giles Cathedral

[George] remembered one day of setting out with the intention of going to attend divine worship in the High Church, and when, within a short space of its door, he was overtaken by young Kilpatrick of Closeburn […]
(Justified Sinner, p. 27)

The High Church is also known as the ‘High Kirk’ (not to be confused with the High Kirk in Glasgow), but nowadays everyone calls it ‘St Giles Cathedral’. (The Church of Scotland has no bishops, so it re-badged the cathedrals it acquired during the Reformation as ‘high kirks’. In recent times, the traditional names have been revived, probably in the hope that the relatively impressive-sounding name will lure more tourists into their gift shop.) The present structure dates from the fifteenth century.

Hogg does not tell us which door George was within a short space of, so we have included pictures of a couple of them. 

Figure 24. West-facing steps to St Giles Cathedral. Edinburgh is just like our family home: everything is in a constant state of ‘undergoing repairs’.  

Figure 25. East-facing steps of St Giles Cathedral

St Giles looks a lot more interesting (a) inside or (b) up towards the roof.  But nobody in the novel is recorded as having got that far. However, we include a couple of piccies of the inside because it really is worth a visit. There is no entrance fee, but they charge you £2 if you want to take photos and they also expect you to make a contribution if you go into the Thistle Chapel.

Figure 26. St Giles Cathedral: Thistle Chapel Ceiling

Figure 27. Interior of St. Giles Cathedral. (What George missed in order to glimpse Kilpatrick of Closeburn’s eye candy.)

Greyfriars Kirk

OK, George never went inside St. Giles, so where did he worship God on that morning?

[] young Kilpatrick of Closeburn, who was bound to the Grey-Friars to see his sweetheart, as he said: ‘and if you will go with me, Colwan,’ said he, ‘I will let you see her too, and then you will be just as far forward as I am.’
(Justified Sinner, p. 27)

Figure 28. Greyfriars Kirk exterior, facing North-East

Figure 29. Greyfriars Kirk: exterior wall

George assented at once, and went; and, after taking his seat, he leaned his head forwards on the pew to repeat over to himself a short ejaculatory prayer, as had always been his custom on entering the house of God. When he had done, he lifted his eye naturally towards that point on his right hand where the fierce apparition of his brother had been wont to meet his view: there he was, in the same habit, form, demeanour, and precise point of distance, as usual! George again laid down his head, and his mind was so astounded that he had nearly fallen into a swoon. He tried shortly after to muster up courage to look at the speaker, at the congregation, and at Captain Kilpatrick's sweetheart in particular; but the fiendish glances of the young man in the black clothes were too appalling to be withstood--his eye caught them whether he was looking that way or not: at length his courage was fairly mastered, and he was obliged to look down during the remainder of the service.
(Justified Sinner, p. 27)

As well as regular Church of Scotland services, Greyfriars Kirk also has some services in Gaelic. Check the times and dates on the notice board outside of the kirk.

Greyfriars Kirk has been the scene of several important moments in Scottish history, including the signing of the National Covenant in 1638.

Figure 30. Greyfriars Kirkyard. In 1679 it was used as a prison camp for hundreds of covenanters.

The entrance to Greyfriars Kirk is through a passage off Candlemaker Row (see Map 5).

Marquis of Queensberry’s House

This is yet another example of where you have to get up early to walk in the footsteps of the Justified Sinner. George (unaware that he was being tailed) set off for an early stroll:

chancing to awaken very early, [George] arose to make an excursion to the top of Arthur’s Seat, to breathe the breeze of the dawning, and see the sun arise out of the eastern ocean.

The morning was calm and serene; and as he walked down the south back of the Canongate, towards the Palace, the haze was so close around him that he could not see the houses on the opposite side of the way. As he passed the Lord-Commissioner's house, the guards were in attendance […]

(Justified Sinner, p. 28)

At this time, the Lord Commissioner was the Marquis of Queensberry.

Figure 31. Queensberry House. The razor wire was not put up to keep Lord Drumlanrig in. The architectural vandals from the Scottish Parliament put it there, managing to make the building look like the Gestapo H.Q.

Queensberry House was commissioned in 1681 by Lord Haltoun but sold upon completion some 5 years later to William, 1st Duke of Queensberry. Although the house looks a bit dull. It does have some colourful history. William’s son James (2nd Duke of Queensberry) then lived here with his children including Lord Drumlanrig, his eldest son whose existence was kept secret for many years as he was considered a ‘wild madman’, and lived chained up in its ground-floor rooms.

James was a very unpopular figure throughout Scotland as he accepted a bribe of £12,325 to push through the 1707 Treaty of the Union with England. Whenever he left his house he had to take body guards with him to protect him from stones and other missiles that were often thrown at him. During one of his many evenings spent canvassing for signatures, James returned home to a scene of horror. Lord Drumlanrig had ‘gotten oot’. He was devouring the flesh of a young kitchen boy whom he was roasting on the spit. We are aware that this is not relevant to the plot of Justified Sinner. But we decided to mention it because we are pleased that we are not the only ones with ‘problem’ relatives.

The Queensberry family remained in the house until 1832. Later the building was used to house the destitute and then as Queensberry Hospital for the elderly, which was closed in 1975. It is now part of the development of the New Scottish Parliament, retaining its original exterior. But it is so hemmed in with security fences, etc. that it is tricky to get a decent photograph.

Holyrood Palace

the guards were in attendance, who cautioned him not to go by the Palace, as all the gates would be shut and guarded for an hour to come, on which he went by the back of St. Anthony's gardens, and found his way into that little romantic glade adjoining to the saint's chapel and well.  (Justified Sinner, p. 28)

Figure 32. Holyrood Palace. (To paraphrase ex-Vice President Spiro Agnew, when you’ve seen one palace, you’ve seen ’em all.)

As you will know if you have read the novel, Robert tails George on this expedition. Unfortunately, if you want to follow in their footsteps, you have exactly the opposite problem to George. There is no barrier to going straight to the top of Arthur’s Seat from the foot of the Canongate. But if you want to go around the left-hand side of Holyrood Palace and past St Anthony’s Chapel, you have to pay to get in. It’s not cheap. It costs the same whether you just wander around the outside or you go inside the palace. And it doesn’t open particularly early either.

Figure 33. St Anthony's abuts Holyrood Palace

Figure 34. St Anthony's, looking back

Having walked around St Anthony’s, had George looked over his shoulder, he would have seen this view of the chapel. (He might also have spotted Robert on his tail, but that would have ruined the plot of Justified Sinner.)

Arthur's Seat

[George] approached the swire at the head of the dell--that little delightful verge from which in one moment the eastern limits and shores of Lothian arise on the view [].

(Justified Sinner, p. 29)

Figure 35. The view of the East Lothian coastline as you climb Arthur's Seat from St Anthony's Chapel/Holyrood Palace

Figure 36. Arthur's Seat. Don't be put off: it is quite easy to climb.

The High Street

The road that runs from the castle to Holyrood Palace is called the Royal Mile. At the castle end, the actual street name is the High Street, whereas at the palace end the street name is Canongate. There are many alleyways (called “closes” in Edinburgh) leading off the Royal Mile, some leading to small squares (called “courts”). The website has a useful interactive map so that you can identify the closes and find out a bit about their history. See Royal Mile Closes

Bell Calvert explains how she came to be a witness to George’s murder:

I […] begged my way with my poor outcast child up to Edinburgh, and was there obliged, for the second time in my life, to betake myself to the most degrading of all means to support two wretched lives. I hired a dress, and betook me, shivering, to the High Street, too well aware that my form and appearance would soon draw me suitors enow at that throng and intemperate time of the Parliament.(Justified Sinner, p. 49)

She took a room in a brothel near to Edinburgh’s Nor’Loch. From her window, she could see George emerging from a nearby brothel.

The Nor’ Loch

George stepped out; the door was again bolted, the chain drawn across, and the inadvertent party, left within, thought no more of the circumstance till the morning, that the report had spread over the city that a young gentleman had been slain, on a little washing-green at the side of the North Loch, and at the very bottom of the close where this thoughtless party had been assembled.

(Justified Sinner, p. 37)

Figure 37. A “washing green” by the Nor'Loch

Bell Calvert describes the scene of George’s death:

our apartment was a corner one, and looked both east and north, I ran to the eastern casement to look after Drummond. Now, note me well: I saw him going eastward in his tartans and bonnet, and the gilded hilt of his claymore glittering in the moon; and, at the very same time, I saw two men, the one in black, and the other likewise in tartans, coming towards the steps from the opposite bank, by the foot of the loch; and I saw Drummond and they eyeing each other as they passed. I kept view of him till he vanished towards Leith Wynd […]

(Justified Sinner, p. 51)

Leith Wynd used to be the road that went north towards Leith from the present-day St Mary’s Street (see the street map of Edinburgh, fig. 23, p. 23).

Figure 38. Looking north over Waverley Station (where the Nor'Loch used to be).

The eastern end of the Nor’ Loch would have been to the right of the scene in the photo of Waverley Station.

There are not many late-seventeenth- century/early-eighteenth-century dwellings left in Edinburgh. But if you are in the vicinity of the High Street/Canongate in Edinburgh, then the best example is, in our opinion, White Horse Close, located on the North side of Canongate, quite near to the Holyrood Palace end.

Figure 39. Two photos of White Horse Close, Edinburgh (not mentioned in the novel, but it’s the right period for the buildings adjacent to the drying green where George  crossed swords with Gil-Martin and Robert).


In Justified Sinner, Arabella Logan is a lot like Ida Arnold, the “tart with a heart” in Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock. Both Arabella and Ida are middle-aged woman with no religious conceptions of good and evil, but with a strong secular sense of right and wrong. There are many other similarities between Justified Sinner and Brighton Rock. Brighton Rock’s equivalent of Robert Wringhim is Pinkie. Pinkie and Robert are convinced that they know whether they are going to heaven or hell, though Pinkie is a Catholic who believes he is damned, whereas Robert is a Presbyterian who believes that he is saved. In both novels, theArabella/Ida character risks her neck to bring Robert/Pinkie to justice and in both novels, Robert/Pinkie commits suicide.

Arabella thinks that the Wringhims are responsible for George’s death and she risks her life to bring Robert to justice. At first, Arabella Logan draws a blank in her investigations, but when her house is burgled, Arabella has a stroke of luck. Some of the property stolen from her home turns up in Peebles, a town that is about 36km South of Edinburgh:

[Arabella Logan was] summoned, or requested, I know not which, being ignorant of these matters, to go as far as the town of Peebles in Tweedside, in order to survey these articles on such a day, and make affidavit to their identity before the Sheriff.  She went accordingly; but, on entering the town by the North Gate, she was accosted by a poor girl in tattered apparel, who with great earnestness inquired if her name was not Mrs. Logan? On being answered in the affirmative, she said that the unfortunate prisoner in the Tolbooth requested her, as she valued all that was dear to her in life, to go and see her before she appeared in court at the hour of cause, as she (the prisoner) had something of the greatest moment to impart to her.
(Justified Sinner, p. 41)

The North Gate is still a street in Peebles. The Tolbooth is no longer standing. We have not yet been able to establish when it was last in use. A part of the castle was used as a prison, but it may not have been the only prison in Peebles at the time of Bell Calvert’s incarceration.

How to get there

From Edinburgh: By car, take the A702 then the A701 then the A703. Peebles is well sign-posted. By bus, take bus service 101 (operated by McEwans).

From Glasgow: By car, M74 then the M72. By bus: we could not find a direct service and we have not done this trip by bus ourselves. One possibility is to get a bus from Glasgow to Biggar, then get another bus from Biggar to Peebles.


Where to stay

We are not told where Mrs Logan stayed in Peebles. However, if you want some sort of connection with Justified Sinner, not to mention with other nineteenth-century literature, you could try the Cross Keys[14]  Hotel, North Gate, Peebles. See Figure 40. The North Gate is where Mrs. Logan arrived in Peebles.

Map 6. Peebles. Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Figure 40. Cross Keys Hotel, Peebles (not mentioned by Hogg, but in North Gate)

Walter Scott’s novel St Ronan’s Well, refers to a fictitious establishment called the ‘Cleikum Inn’. Apparently, Scott modelled his fictitious inn on the Cross Keys Hotel.  Scott even modelled the landlady of the Cleikum Inn on a former landlady of the Cross Keys. Above the doorway is written ‘The Original Cleikum Inn’, underneath which is the date 1653.

The Edinburgh Tolbooth

Ridsley, Bell Calvert’s client when she witnessed Robert stab George, was subsequently arrested and eventually banged up in the Tolbooth. He was also a witness, so the authorities decide to use him to identify George’s killer, corroborating Bell’s version of events:

[They] sent the prisoner in the Tolbooth, he who had seen the whole transaction along with Mrs. Calvert, to take a view of Wringhim privately; and, his discrimination being so well known as to be proverbial all over the land, they determined secretly to be ruled by his report.
(Justified Sinner, p. 64)

So a brief mention of the tollbooth is needed in order to avoid confusion.

Figure 41. St Giles and the Tolbooth

The Edinburgh Tolbooth was very near to St Giles (which is on the right in the picture below).

Figure 42. The Edinburgh Tolbooth. (St Giles Cathedral is on the right.)

There is a bit of confusion about the Tolbooth. There is a museum in the Canongate end of the Royal Mile that is in a building that used to be the tolbooth for Canongate. When the building functioned as a tolbooth, Canongate was separate from Edinburgh.  The Edinburgh Tolbooth which was demolished in 1817.

Anyway, Ridsley goes to Dalchastel and sees Robert. He reports back to the authorities in Edinburgh that Robert is indeed the killer. But by the time that the officers despatched to apprehend him arrived at Dalchastel, Robert had made his getaway. And that is the end of the Editor’s Narrative.


Robert’s Printed Pamphlet

Many commentators have expressed many different opinions concerning Robert’s misdeeds and his relationship with his uncanny acquaintance, Gil-Martin. Well, we have our own view on this and we might as well state it right here. In his pamphlet, Robert describes various events in his life and misdeeds ascribed to him. Often, his memory of the events is vague or he has been told what happened by his uncanny friend, Gil-Martin. In stark contrast to Robert’s hazy recollection of events and misdeeds, Robert has a very precise recall of his states of mind at the times of their occurrence. So what is James Hogg’s purpose in this? In our opinion, Gil-Martin is playing mind games with Robert to get him to fall into particular set of states of mind, namely the states of mind corresponding to the seven deadly sins (see below in case you need a refresher course in these).   Please note that deadly sins are states of mind, not individual actions [15].

The Seven Deadly Sins

Pride: love of self, perverted to contempt for one’s neighbour.
Envy: love of ones own good perverted into a desire to deprive others of theirs.
Wrath: love of justice perverted to revenge and spite.
Lust: obsessive thoughts of a sexual nature.
Greed: obsessive acquisition of wealth where this leads to trickery and manipulation.
Gluttony: an unreasonable obsession with excess consumption
Sloth: a combination of idleness and spiritual apathy.


As we describe the geographical locations, we shall refer to text Justified Sinner which we interpret as Hogg describing Robert’s fall into yet another deadly sin.


In his printed pamphlet, Robert tells us that

[Rev. Wringhim] took pity on me, admitting me […] but into the bosom of his own household […].    
(Justified Sinner, p. 67)

So Robert lived in or near Rev. Wringhim’s manse in Glasgow. When Rev. Wringhim pronounces Robert to be one of the Justified, Robert almost immediately falls into the sin of pride:

I deemed myself an eagle among the children of men, soaring on high, and looking down with pity and contempt on the groveling creatures below.
(Justified Sinner, p. 80)


Where in Glasgow was Rev. Wringhim’s Church and Home?

Although Hogg does not tell us anything directly about where in Glasgow Robert lived, Robert’s printed pamphlet gives us a clue about the manse’s location in Glasgow. Just after Rev. Wringhim pronounces Robert to be one of the “justified” (see the section on "justified sinners" in the Overview  in part 1, if you have forgotten), Robert says:

I hurried through the city, and sought again the private path through the field and wood of Finnieston, in which my reverend preceptor had the privilege of walking for study, and to which he had a key that was always at my command. (Justified Sinner, p. 85)

In the early 1700s, Finnieston was to the west of Glasgow. So if Robert had to go through the city to get to Finnieston then, presumably, Rev. Wringhim’s parish would have been on the east side of Glasgow. At this time, Glasgow was still fairly small.

Figure 43. Glasgow in the 1670's The High Kirk (St Mungo's) is on the right.

The obvious candidate for Rev. Wringhim’s church is St Mungo’s Cathederal. During the period in which Justified Sinner is set, it was called the High Kirk of Glasgow.  There are no other obvious candidates on that side of Glasgow [16]. It is an amazing building and well worth a visit.

Figure 44. Glasgow's St Mungo's Cathedral. At the time of the Justified Sinner it was known as the High Kirk.

If Hogg did have the High Kirk in mind for Rev. Wringhim’s church, it would throw light on this event in The Editor’s Narrative, which occurs before Rabina left Dalchastel for good:  

The laird […] cut her short in all her futile attempts at spiritualization, and mocked at her wire-drawn degrees of faith, hope, and repentance. He also dared to doubt of the great standard doctrine of absolute predestination, which put the crown on the lady’s Christian resentment. She declared her helpmate to be a limb of Antichrist, and one with whom no regenerated person could associate. She therefore bespoke a separate establishment […] The upper, or third, story of the old mansion-house was awarded to the lady for her residence. She had a separate door, a separate stair, a separate garden, and walks that in no instance intersected the laird’s; so that one would have thought the separation complete.
(Justified Sinner, p. 9)

This is analogous to the arrangement at the High Kirk in Glasgow at the time of Rev. Wringhim. Two congregations used the church, but did not want to worship together. They physically partitioned the High Kirk and worshipped separately. One congregation was called the Lower Congregation and the other was called the Outer High Congregation. The physical partition was still in place in Hogg’s time and was only removed in the 1830s.

Figure 45. Interior of St. Mungo's (aka High Kirk)

St. Mungo’s/the High Kirk is featured in Walter Scott’s novel Rob Roy. Part of the action takes place in the Lower Church.

Figure 46. Illustration of the High Kirk from Rob Roy

The caption refers to “the crypt”, but it is actually the “Lower Church”. Also, St. Mungo’s is referred to as “Glasgow Cathedral”, a name you will also see on Map 7. These days, that name is confusing as there are four churches in Glasgow which call themselves cathedrals.

Check the opening hours before you go. Although St Mungo’s is used for Church of Scotland services, the building is actually owned by Historic Scotland.

If you visit St. Mungo’s, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Glasgow Necropolis, just to the east of the Cathedral precinct. It was not mentioned in the novel. In 1831, it was established as a Glaswegian Père Lachaise.

Getting there

It is about a ten-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street station to St Mungo’s Cathedral.

Map 7. St. Mungo's ("Glasgow Cathedral" on the map) is at the east end of Cathedral Street then one block south on Castle Street.


Finnieston: Robert’s first blooding

Robert’s first victim was the mild-mannered and inoffensive Rev. Blanchard. The murder takes place in Finnieston Dell. Alas, Finnieston is sadly lacking in dells these days. Since the early 1700s, Finnieston has been industrialized and then de-industrialized and not much of the original landscape has survived.

Map 8. Finnieston

The first time we went to Finnieston was on an anti-Iraq war march in 2003. The march ended in Finnieston where Tony Blair was in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (see Figure 47) telling the Scottish Labour Party that invading Iraq was a really good idea. (But don’t be put off because the also have lots of useful and informative stuff at SECC.)

Figure 47. Finnieston: the SECC building is part of "de-industrialized" Glasgow. (Picture by courtesy of SECC, Finnieston Quay, Glasgow.)

It is a little difficult to conjure up an image of Robert firing his pistol at Rev. Blanchard through a hedge, given the post-industrial landscape of Finnieston today.

Getting there

Finnieston railway station was renamed ‘Exhibition Centre‘ sometime after the SECC Exhibition Centre opened nearby. It is on the Argyle Line, which somehow seems appropriate, considering the political affiliations of Rev. Wringhim. There is a frequent service from Glasgow Central Station.

Where to stay

There is a huge range of accommodation available in Glasgow. We suggest that you contact the Glasgow Tourist Information people. Tel: 0141 204 4400; web:


Had Robert not topped him, Rev. Blanchard would have preached in Paisley. Gil-Martin’s otherwise encyclopedic knowledge let him down at this point, because he told Robert that Rev. Blanchard would be preaching at the ‘High Church’ there. From the Reformation until 1736, the Abbey was the only church in the burgh and parish of Paisley.  The High Kirk was built in 1754, so maybe Gil-Martin really meant Paisley Abbey. Or maybe he was giving Robert an opportunity to call his bluff? With Hogg, you never know. Anyway, Paisley Abbey is so steeped in Scottish history that we just had to mention it even though Robert and co. do not actually go there.

Figure 48. Paisley Abbey

For example, Robert the Bruce’s pregnant daughter died in the Abbey, following an accident. Her baby was saved and became Robert II, the first king of the Stewart dynasty. So the Stewart dynasty was literally born in Paisley Abbey.


Getting there

Paisley Abbey is near to Paisley Gilmour Street railway station. Take a train there from Glasgow Central.

Robert’s First Visit to Edinburgh

We covered most of the goings-on in Edinburgh in the Editor’s Narrative. However, whilst in Edinburgh, Robert fell into a couple more of the seven deadly sins.

Speaking of the Laird of Dalchastel and George Colwan, Robert falls into the sin of envy when he tells us that a desire to possess their riches

[…] these bad men’s riches made some impression on my heart.
(Justified Sinner, p. 101)

After George knocked Robert over during the tennis match, Robert fell into the sin of wrath:

                                    […] from that moment I vowed his destruction in my heart.
(Justified Sinner, p. 102)

Robert as Laird of Dalchastel

After Robert bumped off George, Colwan Senior had no heir other than Robert (who he had never disinherited), so when Colwan Senior died, Robert inherited the Dalchastel estate. Whilst Robert was laird, he fell into each of the other four deadly sins in turn.

Robert is accused by his neighbour, Mrs. Keeler, of seducing her daughter. Robert has no recollection of the seduction; however, his description of his state of mind following the accusation corresponds to lust:

I felt a sort of indefinite pleasure, an ungracious delight in having a beautiful woman solely at my disposal.
(Justified Sinner, p. 125)

Robert's description of his state of mind corresponds closely with the definition of sloth:
[…] it was for utter oblivion that I longed. I desired to sleep; but it was for a deeper and longer sleep than that in which the senses were nightly steeped.
(Justified Sinner, pp. 126-27)

Robert is vaguely aware that he is over-indulging in “exotic wines” and says that he “craved forgiveness and obtained it” (p. 122). The devilish Gil-Martin tells Robert that

[…] of late, you have been very much addicted to intemperance. I doubt if, from the first night you tasted the delights of drunkenness, that you have ever been in your right mind until Monday last.
(Justified Sinner, p. 122)

However, we can say that Robert subsequently fell into the deadly sin of gluttony when he drank to excess at the next opportunity and justified it by saying:

Surely every gift of God is a blessing, and ought to be used with liberality […].
(Justified Sinner, p. 127)

Having apparently cheated his neighbour of her property, Robert has fallen into the sin of greed because he passively accepts that his highly dodgy attorney conducts on his behalf:

[…] pieces of business  […] with lawsuits, details, arrestments of judgement and a thousand interminable quibbles […]
(Justified Sinner, p. 133)

That is the seventh and last deadly sin.

After Ridsley confirmed to the court that Robert was indeed George’s murderer, the wheels of justice started to turn. Robert did a runner from Dalchastel and went to Edinburgh.


Robert’s Second Visit to Edinburgh

West Port


Robert describes his arrival in Edinburgh’s West Port:

Miserable, forlorn, and dreading every person that I saw, either behind or before me, I hasted on towards Edinburgh, taking all the by and unfrequented paths; […] I reached the West Port, without meeting with anything remarkable. Being exceedingly fatigued and lame, I took lodgings in the first house I entered, and for these I was to pay two groats a week, and to board and sleep with a young man who wanted a companion to make his rent easier. I liked this; having found from experience that the great personage who had attached himself to me, and was now become my greatest terror among many surrounding evils, generally haunted me when I was alone keeping aloof from all other society.

(Justified Sinner, p. 151)

At the time of the Justified Sinner, West Port was in Portsburgh and not yet a part of Edinburgh. This picture depicts a scene roughly contemporaneous with the events depicted in the Justified Sinner.

Figure 49. The West Port in what was then Portsburgh

Back in the real world, that famous pair of body snatchers and murderers, Burke and Hare lived in the West Port. Finally brought to justice in 1827 (after the publication of Justifed Sinner) they sold corpses to researchers at the medical school. Burke and Hare’s preferred pub was the White Hart Inn in the Grassmarket. That was where they were rumoured to do business with the medical school folks.  OK, they have nothing to do with Justified Sinner, but we have always found it a bit creepy that, in his 1823 letter to Blackwood’s and in Justified Sinner, Hogg names the grave robbers as William Shield and W. Sword (page 168) and the Edinburgh grave robbers were William Burke and William Hare.

There are some very good second-hand and antiquarian bookshops along the West Port these days. This is what it looks like when you walk there from the Grassmarket.

Figure 50. West Port just west of the Grassmarket

Printing Justified Sinner

The map below has a surprising diverse range of links to Justified Sinner

Map 9 covers the area between the High Street and Market Street. There are a number of interesting Justified Sinner associations, as well as some pubs and restaurants, in this area. So it is well worth spending a few minutes exploring it. Old Stamp Office Close is where James Clarke, the printer of Justified Sinner, had his business. Just to the West of Old Stamp Office Close, Craig’s Close used to go from the High Street to Market Street. Nowadays, it only goes from Cockburn Street to Market Street. Craig’s Close is where James Watson had his printing press. In Justified Sinner, Hogg has James Watson appear as a character. Robert gets a job at Watson’s printing works and sets about printing his pamphlet. Incidentally, we are getting this information from one of the leading experts on Hogg, Peter Garside. Professor Garside mentions that a likely site for the Black Bull (where Robert disrupted George’s post-tennis meal with his chums) was also nearby.

Find Fleshmarket Close and walk down it towards Market Street. On the left, there is an interesting small pub called the Halfway House. Keep walking down the Close until you get to Market Street then turn right. You will see North Bridge above you and Waverley Station on the other side of Market Street. This must be very near to the drying green where George was murdered. (At the time of the Justified Sinner, North Bridge did not exist and the Nor’Loch is where Waverley Station is today.)

Map 9.  The area between High Street and Market Street, Edinburgh.

So what is the Significance of Robert’s Printed Pamphlet?

We have argued that Robert has fallen into each of the seven deadly sins in turn. He then writes a pamphlet in which, effectively, he has confessed to these. If you read the book, you will see that it is a strange kind of confession. Robert has clearly deluded himself into believing that he has been doing God’s work, so whereas the pamphlet scores highly on the confession side, it scores badly with regard to repentance. Consequently, Robert does not make it completely back on track for salvation. So where does that leave Robert? He tells us in Robert’s Hand-Written Journal.  

Robert’s Handwritten Journal

Robert explains that he had to do a runner from Edinburgh because Gil-Martin showed up at the printing works. He heads South, with the general idea of going to England.


Robert’s decribes how he got as far as Ellanshaw:

I travelled all that night and the next morning, exerting myself beyond my power; and about noon the following day I went into a yeoman's house, the name of which was Ellanshaws […]

(Justified Sinner, p. 154)

‘Ellenshaws’ seems to be a fictitious name, but the experts say that Hogg had in mind Langshaw, on the Allan Water.

Map 10. Langshaw on Allan Water. Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

There are two ruined towers in Langshaw that look like they could be the right age for the Justified Sinner. However, neither of us is an expert in dating ruins and we have not been able to verify the age of either ruin.

Figure 51. Langshaw: two ruined towers from which to choose

In Robert’s description of his night at Ellenshaw, the striking point is that poor old Gil-Martin has changed since Robert made his confession. He isn’t quite the devil he used to be:

The darkling intruder paused for a few moments, and then came towards the foot of the ladder. The horses broke loose, and, snorting and neighing for terror […] the lad in the bed next the ladder sprung from his couch, crying out: ‘The L--d A--y preserve us! What can it be?’ With that he sped across the loft and by my bed, praying lustily all the way; and, throwing himself from the other end of the loft into a manger, he darted, naked as he was, through among the furious horses, and, making the door that stood open, in a moment he vanished and left me in the lurch. Powerless with terror, and calling out fearfully, I tried to follow his example; but, not knowing the situation of the places with regard to one another, I missed the manger, and fell on the pavement in one of the stalls. I was both stunned and lamed on the knee; but, terror prevailing, I got up and tried to escape. [...] Two or three times was I knocked down by the animals. but all the while I never stinted crying out with all my power. At length, I was seized by the throat and hair of the head, and dragged away, I wist not whither. […] I remember no more till I found myself lying naked on the kitchen table of the farm-house, and something like a horse’s rug thrown over me.

(Justified Sinner, pp. 1556)

We are not sure which one Hogg had in mind as the yeoman’s house. However, you can find better accommodation in Langshaw than did Robert. You can get bed and breakfast accommodation on an organic farm, Over Langshaw Farm ( It will be quite near to where Robert spent such a disagreeable night.

Ellan Water

In this deplorable state of body and mind, was I jogging on towards the Tweed, by the side of the small river called Ellan, when, just at the narrowest part of the glen, whom should I meet full in the face but the very being in all the universe of God would the most gladly have shunned.
(Justified Sinner, p. 157)

Map 11. Allan Water flows south, joining the Tweed just east of Selkirk. Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

If you are travelling by car, go along the B6374 road. You can park in a lay-by just east of the Allan Bridge. There is a gate at the parking place. Cut across a small paddock and enter the woodland on the east side of the Allan Water.

Figure 52. Allan Water just north of the bridge

There is a path of sorts up the glen, but you should only attempt it if you have got the right footwear. It is very easy to slip or trip. The narrowest part of the glen is about a mile upstream. We found it easiest to switch from bank to bank to avoid dense undergrowth. When the water level is low enough, there are stepping stones. A fallen tree also provides a natural bridge at one point.  

Figure 53. Allan Water: narrow part of the glen


Robert’s Manuscript continues to describe Robert’s flight south:

I took up my lodgings that night in a small miserable inn in the village of Ancrum, of which the people seemed alike poor and ignorant.
(Justified Sinner, p. 158)

In the early hours of the morning the innkeeper, his wife and their serving girl, Tibby, discovered that Robert’s presence was causing things to go bump in the night. They decided that it was time to introduce Robert to the inn’s express check-out service: 

I was obliged to attempt dressing myself, a task to which my powers were quite inadequate in the state I was in, but I was readily assisted by every one of the three; and, as soon as they got my clothes thrust on in a loose way, they shut their eyes lest they should see what might drive them distracted, and thrust me out to the street, cursing me, and calling on the fiends to take their prey and be gone.

The scene that ensued is neither to be described nor believed if it were. I was momently surrounded by a number of hideous fiends, who gnashed on me with their teeth, and clenched their crimson paws in my face; and at the same instant I was seized by the collar of my coat behind, by my dreaded and devoted friend […].
(Justified Sinner, pp. 1601)

Poor old Robert. Boringly, we were unmolested during our visit to Ancrum. Furthermore, the innkeeper these days is both shrewd and agreeable.

Map 12. Ancrum. Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland

Nowadays, the only establishment in Ancrum that provides accommodation is the Cross Keys Inn. The present building is about one hundred years old, but it is better than Robert’s ‘small miserable inn’ in every way, with the exception of the speed of the express check-out. In fact the interior of the Cross Keys Inn is officially “listed”, meaning that it would be illegal to alter it because it is of historical interest. It is well worth a visit.

There is a small village green near the Cross Keys Inn. On the green is a carved stone, said to date from the 1200s. Several sources say that some ruined walls to the east of the village are part of a building associated with Bishop (later Archbishop) Blacader of Glasgow, who became Ancrum’s feudal lord when the feudal superior, Lindisfarne Abbey, was dissolved.

Figure 54. The Cross Keys Inn, Ancrum


Not daring to look behind me, I crept on my way, and that night reached this hamlet on the Scottish border; and being grown reckless of danger, and hardened to scenes of horror, I took up my lodging with a poor hind, who is a widower, and who could only accommodate me with a bed of rushes at his fireside.
(Justified Sinner, p. 162)

Map 13. Chesters. Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Robert would have done better to check out The Steadings Bed and Breakfast at Roundabouts Farm in Chesters. It offers the visitor a very attractive alternative to a bed of rushes.

Figure 55. Chesters: Robert should have checked this place out

Robert hiked from Chesters to Roberton, sticking to the hills.

On leaving the hind’s cottage on the Border, I hasted to the northwest, because in that quarter I perceived the highest and wildest hills before me. As I crossed the mountains above Hawick, I exchanged clothes with a poor homely shepherd, whom I found lying on a hill-side, singing to himself some woeful love ditty.”
(Justified Sinner, pp. 1623)

This is very good hill-walking country, so we shall suggest a couple of hikes. However, although we encourage you to walk in the footsteps of the Justified Sinner, we draw the line at approaching shepherds with a view to dressing up in each other’s clothes.

Figure 56. Hills between Chesters and Roberton


I slept the first night in a farm-house nigh to the church of Roberton, without hearing or seeing aught extraordinary […].

Map 14 Roberton. Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

We have tried to find out the age of the present Roberton Kirk with no success. It looks just a tad more recent than 1712, but we are no experts.

Figure 57. Roberton Kirk

There is easy access to the hills from Roberton via a footbridge over Borthwick Water (just South of Roberton; see the map). Go through the gate with the sign on it saying ‘Beware the Bull’ and in a couple of minutes you will be on the hillside. There is a marked path over the hills if you are the sort of person that likes marked paths and you are proficient at quickly establishing a good working relationship with bulls.

Figure 58. Hills south of Roberton. (Yes, there really was a bull.)

Eldinhope to Fall Law

Near the end of Robert’s Handwritten Journal, Robert is beginning to realise that there is no escape:

Ault-Righ, August 24, 1712. —Here am I, set down on the open moor to add one sentence more to my woeful journal; and, then, farewell, all beneath the sun!
(Justified Sinner, p. 162)

So that is the end of Robert’s Handwritten Journal. In the novel, The Editor picks up the story of Robert’s demise.


The Editor’s Postscript (Again)

The Editor quotes Hogg’s letter to Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine:

The last service he was in was with a Mr. Anderson, of Eltrive  […] who had hired him during the summer to herd a stock of young cattle in Eltrive Hope.
(Justified Sinner, p. 166)

a man coming in at the pass called The Hart Loup, with a drove of lambs, on the way for Edinburgh, perceived something like a man standing in a strange frightful position at the side of one of Eldinhope hay-ricks. The driver’s attention was riveted on this strange uncouth figure, and, as the drove-road passed at no great distance from the spot, he first called, but, receiving no answer, he went up to the spot, and behold it was the abovementioned young man, who had hung himself in the hay rope that was tying down the rick.
(Justified Sinner, pp. 166–67)

Early next morning, Mr. Anderson’s servants went reluctantly away, and, taking an old blanket with them for a winding sheet, they rolled up the body of the deceased, first in his own plaid, letting the hay-rope still remain about his neck, and then, rolling the old blanket over all, they bore the loathed remains away to the distance of three miles or so, on spokes, to the top of Cowan's-Croft.
(Justified Sinner, p. 167)

We are treated to a classic piece of Hogg’s deliberate confusion concerning the location of the grave. The shepherd who acts as a guide to The Editor provides a different account:

 […] the grave was not on the hill of Cowan's-Croft nor yet on the point where three lairds’ lands met, but on the top of a hill called the Faw-Law […].         (Justified Sinner p. 170)

Map 15: Eldinhope. Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

The area of water on the West side of this map is the North-East tip of St. Mary’s Loch. If you are driving and you want a longer hike to Cowan’s Croft/Fall Law, turn off the A709 South-West of Dryhope. Drive over the bridge and park. You will see signposts for the “Southern Upland Way”. If you follow the path to the South-West, you will be hiking along the banks of St. Mary’s Loch until you get to Tibbie Shiells Inn. From there, you can follow our recommended route to get to Fall Law and Cowan’s Croft.

Map 16. Fall Law and the area to the North-East. Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

So where does this leave you, the hapless hiker? In the spirit of the way that Justified Sinner is written, you will just have to hoof it both to Cowan’s Croft and to Fall Law.



In the good old days, Scotland was pretty much a theocracy. If someone fell foul of the church, he or she would have to sit or stand at the front during the service, facing the congregation, during church services on the so-called penitents’ stools (more widely referred to as ‘creepy stools’).  The church would also fine people large sums of money for moral misdemeanors. Of course, the church would act as both judge and jury in such matters.

In Ettrick in 1712, the Church of Scotland minister was Thomas Boston. His name lives on in Ettrick.

Figure 59. Thomas Boston Memorial Hall

Thomas Boston had the front pews of his church ripped out to make way for more creepy stools. Thomas Boston was highly successful in terms of getting bums on pews (that is, the pews that remained after he had re-arranged the furniture to accommodate the extra creepy stools).


How to get there

Drive a few miles South from Captain’s Road along the B709 and follow the signposts to Ettrick. You will see a Hogg monument, Hogg’s birthplace and the Boston Memorial Hall.

Appendix: The Editor

Where to Stay in Edinburgh (but only if you are not of the poverati)

So long as you can afford to pay quite a lot more than the two groats per week that Robert paid to stay in the West Port, then there is really only one place for you to stay in Edinburgh. Although The Editor is probably an amalgam of several characters in the Edinburgh literary scene in the 1820s, Hogg experts identify Professor John Wilson, who used the pseudonym ‘Christopher North’, as a prime suspect. In 1826, two years after Justified Sinner was published, Christopher North moved to a house in Gloucester Place in Edinburgh. Nowadays, it is an up-market hotel. Its website is

 Figure 60. The Christopher North Hotel, Edinburgh

Figure 61. The Christopher North Hotel. Plaques outside the hotel (left), and a window advertising the  Blackwood's Grill (right). We wonder if they have an Ambrose's Cocktail Bar inside.

The Editor moved to Gloucester Place from Ann Street, Edinburgh. We recommend a walk from Gloucester Place to Ann Street to see some fine examples of Georgian architecture. See Map 17.

Figure 62. John Wilson/Christopher North moved here two years after the publication of Justified Sinner

Map 17. The homes of 'Christopher North', the sort of ‘smart-arse’ Hogg had in mind for The Editor. Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland. 

The strip of water in Map 17 is the “Water of Leith”. (The mapmaker’s spelling is wrong.)  If you want a very attractive walk, find your way to the path on the Eastern side of the Waters of Leith and walk towards the South. Plenty of other Edinburgh guidebooks describe this walk.

Figure 63. 50 Ann Street, where Christopher North lived when James Hogg wrote Justified Sinner.

Figure 64. Ann Street, Edinburgh
NOTES (Part 2)

[14] Yes, yet another Cross Keys. In this document, we mention three different Cross Keys (Ettrickbridge, Ancrum and Peebles). The more suspicious among you probably think we are getting sponsored by a chain of pubs, but no such luck. “Cross Keys” is a common name for inns in the borders. Some say that these establishments are on pilgrimage routes and that the religious significance of the cross keys symbol is that it is a part of the Papal insignia. 
[15] The movie “Seven” (aka “Se7en”) is based on a misconception that a deadly sin can be equated with an individual action. Someone who has fallen into a deadly sin may well commit a deplorable act, but that act would be symptomatic of the deadly sin and does not constitute the deadly sin itself.
[16] There was another parish church in the east of Glasgow, but it was damaged by fire and not in use in the relevant period. Of course, this does not preclude the possibility the Hogg had that church in mind. Indeed, Hogg did not necessarily have any particular church in mind.

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