Cowgate – 1544

The Cowgate probably developed as a street in the early fourteenth century. By the sixteenth century it was considered one of the more prosperous parts of Edinburgh. The writer and theologian Alexander Alesius (who was born in Edinburgh in 1500) claimed that Cowgate was where ‘the nobility and chief men of the burgh reside’. In the early sixteenth century the archbishop of St Andrews had a residence there, which survived until Victorian times. In 1537 money was left for the establishment of a hospital and chapel dedicated to Mary Magdalen at the western end of the Cowgate. The Magdalen Chapel still exists today, although the building has been substantially altered.