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Edinburgh was one of the first towns in Europe to set up a civic city police force. The origins of the City Guard are lost in the 17th century civil wars but by the 1700s, they were a central part of life in the Old Town. They were known for their rough behaviour and occasional lapses of judgement, and an easy target for artists and poets alike.

In this talk, Collections Information Officer Nico Tyack looks at the City Guard through objects in the collections at Museums & Galleries Edinburgh. We’ll explore what they were up to, how they were involved in some of the best known events of Edinburgh’s history, and take a close look at the astonishing set of City Guard muskets. We might even decide once and for all if they were the Toun’s Good Company, or just the reviled Town Rats?

Town Rats or Good Toun’s Company: The Edinburgh City Guard