Greyfriars Bobby is a statue commemorating arguably the most famous dog in Scottish history, who defended his owner's grave for 14 years. As the story goes, the Skye terrier lost his owner, John Gray, and sat guarding his grave until the day the dog died. Today, the statue at the corner of Candlemaker Row and George IV Bridge stands to commemorate this shining example of the loyalty a dog bears for its owner.

The statue was commissioned by a British philanthropist who was touched by the dog's story. Over the years, several books, movies and other tributes have centered around the story of Greyfriars Bobby, a story of canine loyalty that has become something of a local legend. 

Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh - one of the highlights of 10 Mistakes People Make When Visiting Edinburgh and 6 Creepy Stories from Edinburgh to Freak You Out (Read all about Edinburgh here)

Highlights and features of Greyfriars Bobby

The statue of Greyfriars Bobby forms a part of a drinking fountain beside the National Museum of Scotland. As the story goes, 1 year after the dog's death, the fountain was commissioned by Lady Burdett-Coutts, a famed philanthropist and the president of the Ladies Committee of the RSPCA. The statue was created in bronze by artist William Brodie and is mounted on a column of polished granite above a polished granite basin.

The original fountain was furnished with 2 bronze drinking cups attached to the structure. It suffered from neglect for decades but was fully restored in 1985 and today is among the smallest Grade A listed historical buildings in Scotland and all of the UK. The fountain is situated in proximity to several popular points of interest in Edinburgh, including Candlemaker Row, the George IV Bridge, the Greyfriars Kirkyard and Chambers Street. 

The story of Greyfriars Bobby

John Gray was a gardener who moved to Edinburgh with his wife and son in 1850 and, unable to find gardening work, joined the Edinburgh police force. His partner and company on long nights was his dog Bobby, a Skye terrier. The pair were faithful friends for many years until John died of tuberculosis in 1858. He was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard. Shortly after, Bobby settled on the grave and refused to leave even in the worst conditions.

Bobby stayed for 14 years until he, too, died of cancer in 1872, at which point a statue was commissioned to memorialize this most faithful of furry friends. Though the story has been challenged throughout the years, most people choose to believe that it was true. Indeed, it parallels hundreds of stories about dogs from all over the world with unshakeable loyalty to their owners. 

Good to know about Greyfriars Bobby

Many movies, videos and productions have been created about Greyfriars Bobby over the years. Today, several companies offer tours with knowledgeable guides who will illustrate the tale. Just steps away from the fountain is a pub called 'Bobby's Bar', another local staple for locals and guests. At the Museum of Edinburgh, you can see actual artifacts from Bobby, including his bowl, collar and drinking cup.

Over the years, people have taken to rubbing the statue's nose for luck. This practice is discouraged, however, as this rubs the finish off of the bronze, and the statue has needed to be restored twice as a result. You also can no longer drink from the fountain, as the cups have been removed and no water feed has run to it since 1957.

Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh

Location: Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QE, UK