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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


THE CA S TL E. I33 David I. to Holyrood Abbey, in the description of the lands lying under the Castle. the old song, entitled added some verses, the laird addresses his mistress?- In The Young Laird and Edinburgh Katy,” to which Allan Ramsay My dear, quoth J, thanks to the Night That never wisht a Lover ill; Since ye ’re out of your Nither’s sight, Let ’8 take a walk up to the Hill. In a footnote the poet adds--“ The Castle Hill, where young people frequently take the air on an evening,” but the local allusions of the earlier stanza are not carried out in his additions,’ This favourite walk of the citizens has been greatly improved since then, by levelling and the construction of parapet walls. In an act passed in the reign of Queen Anne, for the better keeping of the Lord’s Day, it is specially mentioned, along with the King’s Park ahd the Pier of Leith, as the most frequent scene of the Sunday promenadings that then excited the stern rebukes of the clergy ; and, notwithstanding the great changes that have occurred since that period, the same description might still be given, with the single addition of the Calton Hill to the list. 1 The Castle Hill was very often made the scene of public executions, and waa particularly famous for the burning of witches, and those convicted of unnatural crimes. In the reign of James IT., in 1538, John Lord Forbes was beheaded here, and a few daya afterwards, the Lady Glamis, sister of the Earl of Angus, was burnt alive, on a charge of high treason. Here also, during the following reign? Foret, the Vicar of Dollar, and several others of the earliest reformers, perished at the stake, The Diurnal of Occurrents records many other executions, such as-“September Ist, 1570, thair wer tua personis brint in the Castell Hill of Edinburgh, for the committing of ane horrible sinne.” Bhel again mentions, e.g., July 1605, “Henry Lourie brunt on the Castell Hill for witchcraft, committed and done by him in Kyle; ” and in Nicol’s Diary, from 1650 to 1667, including the period of the Commonwealth, executions on this spot occur with painful frequency, as on the 15th of October 1656, when seven culprits, including three women, were executed for different crimes, two of whom were burut. Again, “ 9th March 1659, thair wer fyve wemen, witches, brint on the Castell Hill for witchcraft, all of them confeasand thair covenanting with Satan, sum of thame renunceand thair baptisme, all of thame oft tymes dancing with the DevilL” In the reign of Charles I. a novel character was assigned to it. The Earl of Stirling, having obtained leave to colonise Nova Scotia, and sell the honour of the baronetage to two hundred imaginary colonists, the difficulty of infeoffing the knights in their remote possessions was overcome by a royal mandate converting the soil of the Castle Hill of Edinburgh, for the time being, into that of Nova Scotia, and the new baroneta were accordingly inrested with their honours on this spot.
Volume 10 Page 144
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CHAPTER 11. KINGS STABLES, CASTLE BARNS, AND CASTLE HILL. REVIOUS to the discovery of gunpowder, and while its destructive powers remained only very partially understood, the vicinity of the Castle seems to have been eagerly selected as a desirable locality for the erection of dwellings, that might thus in some. degree share in the protection which its fortifications secured to those within the walls; and we find, accordingly, in its immediate neighbourhood, considerable remains of ancient grandeur. Before examining these, however, we may remark, that a general and progressive character prevails throughout the features of our domestic architecture, many of which are peculiar to Scotland, and some of them only to be found in Edinburgh. Various specimens of the rude dwellings of an early date remain in the Grassmarket, the Pleasance, and elsewhere, which, though more or less modified to adapt them to modern habits and manners, still retain the main primitive features of a substantial stone groundflat, surmounted with a second story of wood, generally approached by an outside stair, and exhibiting irregular and picturesque additions, stuck on, like the clusters of swallows’ nests that gather round the parent dwelling, as the offshoots of the family increase and demand accommodation. In buildings of more pretension, the character of the mouldings and general form of the doorway, the ornaments of the gables, the shape of the windows, even the pitch of the roof, and, what is more interesting than any of these, the style and character of the inscriptions VIONElTE-LiIItel from the auise Palace, Blyth’s aoae.
Volume 10 Page 145
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