The Mystery of Gilmerton Cove
Experts have long been baffled by the origins of the underground passageways and chambers at Gilmerton Cove. They include stone benches, tables and even a small chapel hand-carved out of the sandstone.
The origins of the hand carved tunnels, which are at least 300 years old, remain a mystery, with rumours of them being used as a drinking den for 18th Century gentry, a lair inhabited by Knights Templar or a refuge for Covenanters fleeing persecution – the network has even been linked to Mary Queen of Scots. Gilmerton Cove consists of a 45ft corridor with rooms off either side – the 45-minute tour starts at a small mining cottage in Gilmerton, where visitors descend 16 steps to reach the chambers below.
Scientists from the universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh have used ground-penetrating radar equipment to map out what else may lie beneath.
The waves bounce off cavities or tunnels carved into the rock below. The team has discovered that the subterranean network is at least double the size originally thought. Simon Shackley, from Edinburgh University’s School of Geosciences, said: “On the other side of Gilmerton Road there is a rather large chamber that is probably about 4m [13ft] deep. There also appear to be cavities in front of the cove and behind it – both about 2m deep”. Dr Richard Bates, of St Andrews University, told BBC Scotland the tunnels were “strange places” with very little detail about who used them or why they were built in the first place.