Edinburgh Bookshelf

Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


THE CA S TL E. 125 the initials H. and M. inwrought, for HENRaYid MARY,a nd the date 1566,' commemorates the birth of James VI., on the 19th June of that year. The small room, which was the scene of this important event, forms the south-east angle of the building. It is singularly irregular in form and circumscribed in its dimensions, its greatest length being little more than eigh't feet. The room was formerly neatly panelled with wainscot, but, after being abandoned for years aiit a drinking-room to the -canteen, much of this has been renewed in a very rude and inelegant fashion. The original ceiling, however, is preserved, wrought in ornamental wooden panels, with the initials I. R. and M. R surmounted with the royd crown, in alternate compartments ; and, on the wall, the commemorative inscription, in black letter, mentioned by Maitland, still remains, with the Scottish arms over it :- Z o t t ~fn edu &brg& tbat crounit mad mitb 6IOornde, pree'elzle tbe girth, qubais Dabgie heir i$'b orne, Xnb $en& @ip aonee Bucrelilione, to meignr $tin, Xaug in tbig Iliealme, if tbat it be mbg miH Et$ Grant, 0 Porb, qubat eber of @It profleeb %e to @Ibp @oner Rnb VraiB, pobieb. 19th IFNII, 1566. At the back of the fireplace was formerly shown a hole, said to have served as the communication'fhrough which a wire was conveyed to a house in the Grassmarket, and there attached to a bell, to advise the Queen's Catholic friends of the birth of her son. The use of bells, however, except in church steeples, is of a much more modern date; and '-equally apocryphal is another story of the infant Prince having been secretly let down over the rock in a basket, into the hands of these same'adherents of the Queen, to be educated in the Catholic religion. A considerable part of the east and north fronts of the ancient Royal Palace seem, from the dates on them, as well as from the general style of the building, to have been erected in the year 1616. The appearance, however, of many portions of the interior leave no room to doubt that tlie works of that date were only a partial remodelling of a more ancient fabric. Some of the stone panels on the east front are wrought in remarkably beautiful Eliaabethan.ornaments, and on one of them the regalia have been sculptured in high relief, though some chance shot, in one of the later sieges of the Castle, has broken away the larger portion of the figures. The turrets at the angles of the building, as well as the clock tower in the quadrangle, were originally covered with ogee lead roofs, similar ta that still remaining on the turret staircase at the north end. Immediately below the grand hall, are two tiers of large and strongly-vaulted bombproof vaults, extending below the paved court of the quadrangle, communicating with a wide arched passage, entered from the west side. The small loop-hole that admits light into each of these huge vaults is strongly secured by three ranges of iron bars, and a massive iron gate closes the entrance to the steep flight of steps that give admission to the dreary dungeons. Within these gloomy abodes the French prisoners were confined during the late war, above forty of them sleeping in a single vault. We furnish a view Ante. p. 77. From the style of ornament, it appears to have been put up at 8 later period, probably by James VI. on his visit to Scotlaud in 1617.
Volume 10 Page 136
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Volume 10 Page 137
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