THE HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN
The old tollbooth and prison in
, built in 1466 and demolished in
1817, was the infamous place where public executions took place and is the site
of the Porteus Riots of 1736. John
Porteus was the captain of the city guard who ordered his troops to open fire
on an unruly mob protesting at the execution of a popular smuggler. Six people were killed and Porteus was
subsequently condemned to death for their murders. When a stay of execution was granted, the
mob broke into the prison and lynched Porteus.
Sir Walter Scott acquired the old door to the toolbooth and had it built into his home at Abbotsford. His novel The Heart of Midlothian, relates to these events.
Granite blocks now form a curious heart shape in the roadway in
marking the site of the old tollbooth.