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Edinburgh World Heritage/Public Realm/Jacob’s Ladder: Providing a safe and appealing city shortcut

Jacob’s Ladder: Providing a safe and appealing city shortcut

25th February 2018

Edinburgh World Heritage

Edinburgh’s Jacob’s Ladder is a steep pedestrian pathway and steps, carved into the volcanic rock of Calton Hill. The route first appears on a map in 1784, though it probably existed long before then.

The route of the pathway appears to have changed over the years. Originally it led all the way to the Old Calton Burial Ground and was used as a funeral processional route. It was altered to accommodate the creation of Regent Road and the building of the Old Bridewell Jail (now demolished) in 1791. The construction of the railway line in the mid-1800s led to further changes.

There are a number of steep pathways known as ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ in countries throughout the world, including Australia, New Zealand and the island of St Helena.

The story of ‘Jacob’s dream’ and a stairway to heaven appears in various sacred texts and works of art, perhaps most notably by William Blake (1757–1827) and the façade of Bath Abbey.

Bath Abbey. Image via Yideon Cheow


What’s happening?

This path links Calton Road, which is a few minutes from Waverley train station, with Regent Road, the location of St Andrew’s House, Calton Hill, and the Old Royal High School. The route is a perfect shortcut for residents, workers and tourists but over recent years the pathway has been become overgrown with vegetation, a target for graffiti, and the damaged and cracked steps have become unsafe. Over the next few months, works will be undertaken to make the pathway safer, cleaner and more enjoyable to use.

The first round of graffiti removal has already made a positive impact, and we are working with the Council to ensure that eco-friendly chemicals are used in the graffiti-removal process that do not damage the stone underneath.

More updates to follow.

(Feature image via Stuff Edinburgh)

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