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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Volume 5 Page 117
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I18 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Corstorphine. of the House of Orkney. He is represented in armour of the fifteenth century (but the head has been struck OK); she, in a dress of the same period, with a breviary clasped in her hands. The other monument is said to represent the son of the founder and his wife, whose hands are represented meekly crossed upon her bosom. Apart lies the tomb of a supposed crusader, in the south transept, with a dog at his feet. Traditionally this is said to be the resting-place of Bernard Stuart, Lord Aubigny, who came from France as Ambassador to the Court of James IV., and died in the adjacent Castle of Corstorphine in 1508. But the altar tomb is of a much older date, and the shield has the three heraldic horns of the Forresters duly stringed. One shield impaled with Forrester, bears the fesse cheque of Stuart, perhaps for Marian Stewart, Lady Dalswinton. It. has been said there are few things more impressive than such prostrate effigies as these-so few in Sdotland now-on the tombs of those who were restless, warlike, and daring in their times; and the piety of their attitudes contrasts sadly with the mockery of the sculptured sword, shield, and mail, and with the tenor of their characters in life. The cutting of the figures is sharp, and the draperies are well preserved and curious. There are to be traced the remains of a piscina and of a niche, canopied and divided into three compartments. The temporalities of the church were dispersed at the Reformation, a portion fell into the hands. of lay impropriators, and other parts to educational and other ecclesiastical institutions. In 1644 the old parish church was demolished, ? and the collegiate establishment, in which the , minister had for some time previously been accustomed to officiate, became from thenceforward the only church of the parish. In ancient times the greater part of this now fertile district was 8 Swamp, the road through which was both difficult and dangerous; thus a lamp was placed at the east end of the church, for the double purpose of illuminating the shrine of the Baptist, and guiding the belated traveller through the perilous morass. The expenses of this lamp were defrayed by the produce of an acre of land situate near Coltbndge, called the Lamp Acre to this day, though it became afterwards an endowment of the schoolmaster, At what time the kindly lamp of St. John ceased to guide the wayfarer by its glimmer is unknown ; doubtless it would be at the time of the Reformation; but a writer in 1795 relates ? that it is not long since the pulley for supporting it was taken down.? Of the Forrester family, Wilson says in his ? Reminiscences,? published in 1878, ? certainly their earthly tenure, outside? of their old collegiate foundation, has long been at an end. Of their castle under Corstorphine Hill, and their town mansion in the High Street of Edinburgh, not one stone remains upon another. The very wynd that so long preserved their name, where once they flourished among the civic magnates, has vanished. ?Of what remained of their castle we measured the fragments of the foundations in 1848, and found them to consist of a curtain wall, facing the west, one hundred feet in length, flanked by two round towers, each twentyone feet in diameter externally. The ruins were then about seven feet high, except a fragment on the south, about twelve feet in height, with the remains of an arrow hole.? Southward and eastward of this castle there lay for ages a great sheet of water known as Corstorphine Loch, and so deep was the Leith in those days, that provisions, etc., for the household were brought by boat from the neighbourhood of Coltbridge. Lightfoot mentions that the Loch of Corstorphine was celebrated for the production of the water-hemlock, a plant much more deadly than the common hemlock, The earliest proprietors of. Corstorphine traceable are Thomas de Marshal and William de la Roche, whose names are in the Ragman Roll under date 1296. In the Rolls of David 11. there was a charter to Hew Danyelstoun, ? of the forfaultrie of David Marshal, Knight, except Danyelstoun, which Thomas Carno got by gift, and Llit lands of Cortorphing whilk Malcolm Ramsay got? (Robertson?s ? Index.?) They were afterwards possessed by the Mores of Abercurn, from whom, in the time of Sir William More, under King Robert II., they were obtained by charter by Sir Adam Forrester, whose name was of great antiquity, being deduced from the office of Keeper of the King?s Forests, his armorial bearings being three hunting horns. In that charter he is simply styled ?Adam Forrester, Burgess of Edinburgh.? This was in 1377, and from thenceforward Corstorphine became the chief title of his family, though he was also Laird of Nether Liberton. Previous to this his name appears in the Burgh Records as chief magistrate of Edinburgh, 24th April, 1373 ; and in 1379 Robert 11. granted him ?twenty merks of sterlings from the custom of the said burgh, granted to him in heritage by our other letters . . . , until we, or our heirs, infeft the said Adam, or his heirs, in twenty merks
Volume 5 Page 118
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