Edinburgh has had many descriptions applied to it in its long history but surely the strangest is the claim that Scotland's capital and the Biblical Jerusalem are one and the same place!
The claim is made in 'Britain, the Key to World History', written some 50 years ago by Comyns Beaumont, a journalist. Israel's Jerusalem, he says, in no way corresponds to the descriptions of the city which appear in the Bible or in the works of Josephus, the Jewish historian of Roman times.
But, according to Beaumont, the geography of Edinburgh tallies exactly with the old accounts of the Holy City. Edinburgh Castle fits the Biblical description of Zion and the Citadel, and the Castle moat evidently solves a problem which has puzzled scholars for years. According to II Samuel, "David dwelt in the fort, and called it the City of David. And David built round about from Millo onwards." Experts have never conclusively worked out what or where Millo was in Jerusalem. But Beaumont is confident that it's the moat which protected the Castle from attack from the Esplanade.
The Esplanade itself corresponds to Mount Opel and the Upper City of Jerusalem while at the head of the High Street the Lawnmarket marks the site of Upper Market Place. The ravine now partially filled in and spanned by George IV Bridge is the Tyropoean Valley of Biblical times which was dominated by the Tower of Antonia, built by Herod to guard the Temple. Hadrian ordered the tower to be razed and Beaumont claims that the great heaps of debris which formed the foundations for Edinburgh's Mound - linking Princes Street - were the long-forgotten remains of the Antonia.
Next come Bezetha and the Pool of Bethesda. Bethesda was 'a new town' built across the Valley of Jehosophat and the Pool of Bethesda from the Holy City to accommodate the overflow from Jeruslame's expanding population. Beaumont points to the foot of the Calton Hill and the site of Princes Street as Bezetha. Between them abd the Old Town lie the valley now occupied by Waverley Station and Princes Street Gardens - all that remains of the Nor'Loch, drained when Edinburgh's New Town was built.
Not all of the Beaumont 'proofs' are in the city centre. He suggests that Arthur's Seat - the extinct volcano that looms to the south-east of Princes Street - is in the exact position where the Mount of Olives should be. And Holyrood House, which sits at its base, corresponds to King Solomon's cedar palace, the House of the Forest of Lebanon.
The author sees Joppa as easy justification for his theory. Jerusalem's port has that name, and Edinburgh, too, has its Joppa by the sea. Beaumont concluded his case by identifying Constorphine with the Biblical Mount Tophet - the Place of Burning and the Gogar district with Golgotha. The Place of Skulls where Christ was crucified is not in [the State of] Israel, he claims, but four miles from the centre of Edinburgh.
Beaumont claims that there was a vast conspiracy to place the scene of old Israel's history thousands of miles from where they actually happened in Scotland's Capital.