At the point where Canongate becomes High Street there once stood the Netherbow Port, a fortified gateway between Edinburgh and the Canongate, which was removed in 1764 to improve traffic flow – I was amazed when I read this as the reason as I tend to associate improving traffic flow with the late 20th Century. Following the English victory over the Scots at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, a city wall was built around Edinburgh known as the Flodden Wall, some parts of which survive. The Netherbow Port was a gateway in this wall and brass studs in the road mark its former position.
On the High Street stands the John Knox House reputed to have been owned and lived in by the Protestant reformer John Knox during the 16th century. Although the house bears his name, Knox almost certainly lived in Warriston Close where a plaque indicates the approximate site of his actual residence. The John Knox house dates from around 1490 and is the oldest tenement house surviving in Edinburgh. The interior has painted ceilings and an exhibition about Knox’s life and work as the leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland.