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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


268 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Street. and retaining traces of the heraldic blazonry with which it was originally adorned. Two large and handsome windows, above the archway leading to Toddrick?s Wynd, give light to this once magnificent hall, which is said to have formed the council-room where the officers of the Mint assembled to assay the metal, and to discuss the general affairs of the establishment.? It may surprise readers now to hear that much of the gold coined in this establishment, and its predecessors, was native produce. The first historical notice we have of gold in Scotland is the grant by David I. to the Abbey of Dunfermline, in 1153, of all the gold accruing to the crown from Fife and Fotherif. About a century later Gilbert, Bishop of Caithness (afterwards canon- THE OLD SCOTTISH MINT. (Affwa Drawingby James Drurnnaond, RSA ) Wilson wrote this in 1847, thirty years before the old Scottish Mint was doomed to total destruction. In the reign of Charles 11. other buildings were added to the edifice of 1574, forming a stately quadrangle, and there the national coin was produced till the Union, when a separate coinage was abandoned in both countries; but to gratify prejudice, and the hope that many clung to, of having the Union repealed, the offices were maintained even though they were sinecures. This court, with its buildings, was, like the royal mews at the end of the Grassmarket-a sanctuary for persons prosecuted for debt ; and a small den near the top of the building OX 1574, lighted by a little window looking westward up the Cowgate, was used as a gaol for debtors and other delinquents, condemned by the officers of the Mint. ised as St. Gilbert), is credited with the discovery of gold in Sutherlandshire; but it was not until the 15th century that gold-mining in Scotland became of sufficient importance to warrant its regulation by the Legislature. Thus, in 1424, Parliament granted to the Crown all the gold mines in the realm, and also all the silver mines, that yielded three halfpennies of silver to the pound of lead. The disaster at Flodden prevented immediate advantage being taken of the gold mines discovered on Crawford Muir in the reign of James IV. ; but in 1524 the famous Albany medal was made from gold obtained there j and it is apparent that much of the coin of James V. was minted of native metal. Miners were brought from Germany, Holland, and Lorraine, and they worked under the care of John Mossman, goldsmith, who made a
Volume 2 Page 268
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