Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


78 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Edinburgh Castle. entrance to the apartment in which her daughter was delivered of James VI, It was formerly part of a large room which, before being partitioned, measured 30 by 25 feet. On the I 1 th of February, 1567, after the murder of Darnley, Mary retired to this apartment, where she had the walls hung with black, and remained in strict seclusion until after the funeral. Killigrew, who came from Elizabeth with letters of condolence, on his introduction found (( tbe Queen?s Majesty in a dark chamber, so that he could not see her face, but by her words she seemed very doleful.? In 1849, an antique iron chisel, spear-shaped, was found in the fireplace of this apartment, which was long used as a canteen for the soldiers, but has now been renovated, though in a rude and inelegant form. Below the grand hall are a double tier of strongly-vaulted dungeons, entered by a passage from the west, and secured by an intricate arrangement, of iron gates and massive chains. In one of these Kirkaldy of Grange buried his brother David Melville. The small loophole that admits light into each of these huge vaults, whose origin is lost in the mists of antiquity, is strongly secured by three ranges of iron bars. Within these drear abodes have captives of all kinds pined, and latterly the French prisoners, forty of whom slept in each. In some are still the wooden frames to which their hammocks were slung. Under Queen Mary?s room there is one dungeon excavated out of the solid rock, and having, as we have said, an iron staple in its wall to which the prisoner was chained. The north side of the quadrangle consists now of an uninteresting block of barracks, erected about the middle of the eighteenth century, and altered, but scarcely improved, in 1860-2, by the Royal Engineers and Mr. Charles W. Billings. It occupies the site, and was built from the materials, of what was once a church of vast dimensions and unknown antiquity, but the great western gable of which was long ago a conspicuous feature above the eastern curtain wall. By Maitland it is described as ((a very long and large ancient church, which from its spacious dimensions I imagine that it was not only built for the use of the garrison, but for the service of the neighbouring hinabitants before St. Giles?s church was erected for their accommodation.? Its great font, and many beautifully carved stones were found built into the barrack wall during recent alterations. It is supposed to have been a church erected after the death of the pious Queen Margaret, and dedicated to her, as it is mentioned by David I. in his Holyrood charter as ?the church of the Castle of Edinburgh,? and is again confirmed as such in the charter of Alexander 111. and several Papal bulls, and the ?( paroche kirk within the said Castell,? is distinctly referred to by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in 1595.? In 1753 it was divided into three storeys, and filled with tents, cannon, and other munitions of war. A winding stair descends from the new barracks to the butts, where the rock is defended by the western wall and Bute?s Battery, near which, at an angle, a turret, named the Queen?s Post, occupies the site of St. Margaret?s Tower. Fifty feet below the level of the rock is another guardhouse and one of the draw-wells poisoned by the Englishin 1572. Kear it is the ancient posterngate, where Dundee held his parley with the Duke of Gordon in 1688, and through which, perhaps, St. Margaret?s body was borne in 1093. From thence there is a sudden ascent by steps, behind the banquette of the bastions and near the principal, magazine, to Mylne?s Mount, where there is another grate for a bale-fire to alarm Fife, Stirling, and the north. The fortifications are irregular, furnished throughout with strong stone turrets, and prepared for mounting about sixty pieces of cannon. Two door-lintels covered with curious sculptures are still preserved : one over the entrance to the ordnance office represents Mons Meg and other ancient cannon ; the other a cannoneer of the sixteenth century, in complete armour, in the act of loading a small culverin. The Castle farm is said to have been the ancient village of Broughton, which St. David granted to the monks of Holyrood ; the Castle gardens we have already referred to; and to the barns, stables, and lists attached to it, we shall have occasion to refer elsewhere. The Castle company was a corps of Scottish soldiers raised in January 1661, and formed a permanent part of the garrison till 1818, when, with the ancient band of Mary of Guise, which garrisoned the Castle of Stirling, they were incorporated in cne of the thirteen veteran battalions emjodied in that year. The Castle being within the abrogated parish of Holyrood, has a burial-place for its garrison in the Canongate churchyard ; but dead have been buried within the walls frequently during sieges and blockades, as in 1745, when nineteen soldiers and three women were interred on the summit of the rock. The Castle is capable of containing 3,000 infantry; but the accommodation for troops is greatly ; neglected by Government, and the barracks have Wodmw?s ? I Miscellany.?
Volume 1 Page 78
  Enlarge Enlarge  
THE Castle Hill,? says Dr. Chambers, ? is partly ? an esplanade, serving as a parade ground for the garrison, and partly a street, the upper portion of that vertebral line which, under the names of Lawnbeen characterised as ? hovels that are a disgrace to Europe.? In lists concerning the Castle of Edinburgh, the first governor appears to have been Thomas de Cancia in I 147 ; the first constable, David Kincaid of Coates House, in 1542 ; and the first State prisoner warded therein Thomas of. Colville in 12 10, for conspiring against William the Lion. We may fittingly take leave of the grand old ?( Archzologia Scotica,? which contains an ? Elegie on the great and famous Blew Stone which lay on the Castle Hill, and was interred there.? On this relic, probably a boulder, a string of verses form , Castle in the fine lines of Burns?s ?Address to Edinburgh ? :- ~ ? There, watching high the least alarms, Thy rough, rude fortress gleams afar; Like some bold ver?ran, grey in arms, And marked with many a seamy scar ; The pond?rous wall and massy bar, Grim rising o?er the rugged rock, Have oft withstood assailing war, And oft repelled th? invader?s shock.? market, High Street, and Canongate, extends to I the doggerel elegy :- Holyrood Palace f but it is with the Esplanade and banks we have chiefly to deal at present. Those who now see the Esplanade, a peaceful open space, 5 10 feet in length by 300 in breadth,with the squads of Highland soldiers at drill, or the green bank that slopes away to the north, covered with beautiful timber, swarming in summer with little ones in care of their nurses, can scarcely realise that thereon stood the ancient Spur, before which so many men have perished RUNIC CROSS, CASTLE BANK. sword in hand, and that it was the arena of so many revolting executions by the axe and stake, for treason, hereay, and sorcery. It lay in a rough state till 1753, when the earth taken from the foundations of the Royal Exchange \vas spread over it, and the broad flight of forty steps which gave access to the drawbridge was buried. The present ravelin before the half-moon was built in 1723 ; but alterations in the level must have taken place prior to that, to judge from ?Our old Blew Stone, that?s His marrow may not be; Large, twenty feet in length His bulk none e?er did Doiir and dief, and run with When he preserved men. Behind his back a batterie Contrived with packs of Let?s now think on, since We ?re in the Castle?s dead and gone, he was, ken ; grief, was, woo, he is gone, view.? The woolpacks evidently refer to the siege of 1689. The Esplanade was impraved in 1816 by a parnpet and railing on the north. and a fea years after by a low mall on the south, strengthened by alternate towers and turrets. A bronze statue of the Duke of York and Albany, K.G., holding his marshal?s b%ton, was erected on the north side in 1839, and a little lower down are two Celtic memorial crosses of remarkable beauty. The larger and more ornate of them was erected in 1862, by the officers and soldiers of the 78th Ross-shire Highlanders, to the memory of their comrades who fell during the revolt in India in 1857-8 j and the
Volume 1 Page 79
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures