(July 2020 – Mark Vawser)
Harry Potter, while not conceived in Edinburgh, was the site of his formative years. J.K Rowling arrived in Edinburgh with the first three chapters of The Philosophers Stone, a vision of seven books, and some spare time. What resulted was the best selling series ever. I arrived in Edinburgh looking to walk in J.K’s footsteps and see what inspired The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I didn’t want to take a tour, I was on a strict budget, and the articles I found were lacking a map. So here is my attempt to fill that void. Lets take a Portkey to Edinburgh.
- J.K Rowling Handprints
- Victoria Street
- Greyfriars Graveyard
- The Elephant House Café
Start – High Street
The best starting point is on High Street at the statue of Adam Smith (Pictured).
Smith’s statue is halfway between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace it is very easy to spot and acts as a meeting place for tour groups around Edinburgh.
*Avengers Infinity War was also filmed oh High St in the courtyard and St Giles Cathedral.
J.K Rowling Hand Prints
Rowling’s handprints are located near the Adam Smith Statue.
If you are facing the back of the statue, to your left there is a courtyard beyond a series of arches leading to the City Chambers. You’ll see a statue of Alexzander and Bucephalus (a large horse), the handprints are against the left wall of the courtyard.
*Due to the recent controversy surrounding JK some may want to skip this one. It is the least impressive of the sites but still worth seeing for completionists.
Victoria Street is one of the best looking streets in Edinburgh and (reportedly) the inspiration for Diagon Alley.
No less than three shops on Victoria Street cater to the HP fandom and they are the best HP stores in Edinburgh.
Victoria street is the connection point between the upper level (High St) and the lower level (Grassmarket).
Now for the main event, Greyfriars’s Graveyard. No less than six graves were used as inspiration for HP characters. The most famous is the Riddell gravestone.
I found it difficult to follow online direction to the gravestone so I’ve attached two maps, one showing the greater graveyard with the Potters, and the other shows the Flodden Wall graveyard containing Moodie, Black, Scrymgeour, McGonagall and of course Riddell.
*The spelling is slightly changed for the books.
The Flodden Wall cuts across the main graveyard and many gravestones have been bolted to it’s surface.
Walk passed the main church building towards it’s rear, there you will find the Flodden wall and its only opening.
On the other side are five HP gravestones. Separated into two lanes, the right hand lane leads to four HP gravestones. Three attached to the Flodden Wall itself.
The Potter Gravestone is a little harder to find. The Potters are only two names of many located on the Giles family gravestone.
The Giles Gravestone is located to the right hand side of the Church building (see map).
This gravestone like the Riddell gravestone is a must see if visiting Greyfriars.
*also leave a stick for Bobby the dog at the entrance. He’s an Edinburgh icon.
The Elephant House
The Elephant House is where J.K sat to write the pages of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone.
The bathroom inside the café has become a shrine to the HP fandom and is covered in graffiti honoring Harry.
Unfortunately, The Elephant House was closed when I visited due to the pandemic. However, at the time of writing this I believe they have re-opened.
This is the final stop on my Harry Potter Tour in Edinburgh. If there are any spots I’ve missed please comment.
Good luck Witches and Wizards!
*All Photos are mine unless otherwise stated