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Edinburgh Sanctuary Stone

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Edinburgh Sanctuary Stone S
Edinburgh Sanctuary Stone S

The Sanctuary Stone can be found at the bottom of the Royal Mile, outside the Palace of Holyrood, to the left of The Queen's Gallery. It lies in the ground between the junction of Horse Wynd and Abbey Strand.

The area around Holyrood Abbey was once a place of sanctuary for debtors, during the centuries when debt was an imprisonable offence. The sanctuary zone extended to a five-mile radius around the palace and those seeking sanctuary could apply to stay in one of the buildings surrounding the Abbey, which became known as Abbey Lairds. Food and housing were provided, but at a substantially higher rate than could be found in the walled city of the Old Town. An individual who was claiming protection and who could afford to stay within the confines of the Abbey was allowed to do so for an unlimited amount of time. Sanctuary inhabitants could safely leave the sanctuary only on Sundays, when their debtors were prevented from pursuing them.

The law which meant that debtors could be imprisoned was repealed in 1880, after which the sanctuary was no longer needed.

The 'S' stone in the road is a reminder of the area's former use.


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