Sciennes Jewish Burial Ground – Edinburgh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Sciennes Jewish Burial Ground

This tiny weathered plot is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Scotland. 


Tucked away on a quiet street in the southern quarter of Edinburgh lies a quaint and small Jewish graveyard. The resting place was established in 1816 and the final burial took place here in 1867. There are some 29 graves representing four generations within this diminutive plot of land.

Time and weather have not been generous to many of the headstones, some of which have all but disintegrated. Still, several grave markers contain visible Hebrew lettering. This small number of burials represent four Jewish families who resettled in Edinburgh from Germany and the Low Countries.

It’s been reported that this is the oldest, and at one time, the only, Jewish burial site in Scotland. For a time, members of Glasgow’s Jewish community brought their recently departed to be laid to rest here until they acquired their own graveyard. Within a span of just 50 or so years, this small plot of land reached full capacity and closed down for good.

One will also note that there are small stones or pebbles placed atop of the headstones. This is an old Jewish tradition, it symbolizes an act of remembrance. Unlike flowers that wilt and decay, a stone will signify an act of long lasting reminiscence.

The burial ground is located at Sciennes House Place, behind the historic site of the only meeting between two of the nation’s greatest writers, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns. A nearby plaque marks the house where these two influential scribes met.

Know Before You Go

Public access is unavailable at this site but the headstones can be viewed between the gate railings. 

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September 10, 2019

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