Jan 292018
A view of Canongate


Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8BN

The Canongate originally linked the Old Town of Edinburgh to Holyrood Abbey, established in 1128 by king David I, who reigned from 1124 to 1153. It takes its name from the Augustinian canons who lived in the Abbey. The word ‘gate’, originally spelt ‘gait’, is not derived from the English word but comes instead from the Norse word for ‘street’, so Canongate can be translated ‘Walk of the Monks’. The monks were the first known brewers of beer for sale in Edinburgh. In the sixteenth century beer was generally been made by women at home for the needs of the household. In 1520 228 homes in Edinburgh brewed beer, representing one brewery for every 40 inhabitants. The monks, by contrast, produced more beer than they could drink themselves, so on market days they used to bring it up the Canongate to the city’s market to trade with the people of the town. Canongate retained its connection with brewing in later centuries and at one time 20 breweries were to be found on this street or nearby. The popularity of this neighbourhood for brewing was a consequence of the good underground water supply in the area known to the brewers as the ‘Charmed Circle’.

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