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Edinburgh Past and Present


130 ROSLIN, HAWTHORNDEN, ~. heights on either side, one gazes upon a world of moving tree-tops in the ravine below. ~ A little way back, on the Ieft bank, lies the single-streeted village of Roslin. Between the village and the Esk, on a grassy height called the College Hill, stands the Chapel ; and some hundred yards below, on a rocky promontory, formed by a bend in the river, are the ruins of the Castle, accessible only by a stone bridge of great height which spans a natural ravine between the promontory and the College Hill. From this position the Castle derived its name-XmZianRe, the promontory of the waterfall. The Esk forms a cascade as it bends sharply round the promontory, and it is still at this point called ‘the Lynn.’ The St. Clairs, or Sinclairs, of Roslin, or Rosslyn, trace their descent from a ‘Seemly St. Clair,’ a Norman knight of fair deportment, who ‘ came in’ with the Conqueror, and whom Malcolm Canmore diplomatically allured over the border by big grants of Scottish land. Roslin, amongst other places, was given to the family, and the Castle probably dates from the beginning of the fourteenth century. In 1622, when it had begun to fall away, a newer house was built over its vaults; and this was inhabited about eighty years ago by a good old Scottish Laird, the last heir-male and lineal descendant of the ‘ Seemly St. Clair.’ It is still let in summer to families wanting rustic accommodation ; and for one season at least it was tenanted in this fashion by the late Mr. Robert Chambers of Edinbu?gh. . The ‘ground about the hoary old ruins is now bright with the fruit and flowers of a market-garden. But in the middle of the fifteenth century the Castle was the seat of the good and scholarly William St. Clair, ‘ Prince of the Orkneys and Duke of Oldenburgh,’ the founher of Roslin Chapel. He was a very great personage indeed, with a town mansion at the foot of Blackfriars Wynd in Old Edinburgh, and a great retinue of lords and gentlemen. Sevenv-five gentlewomen attended upon his lady, who, when she rode from Edinburgh to Roslin, was accompanied by a guard of two hundred horse, and also, if it was after nightfall, by eighty bearing torches. On one occasion - part of the Castle was set on fire by the carelessness of one of this lady’s handmaidens. The women fled in fear j and the Prince, who was upon the College Hill at the time, no doubt superintending the building of his pet Chapel, on hearing of the fire, ‘was sorry for nothing but the loss of his charters and other writings.’ These, which were kept in the dungeon-head, his chaplain cleverly saved, throwing them out-four boxfuls of them-and following himself on a bell-rope tied to a beam. The good Prince rewarded From that time it was the chief residence of the St. Clairs.
Volume 11 Page 187
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