Edinburgh Bookshelf

Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time

Search

EARLIEST TRA DITZONS. 3 sess himself of Edgar, the youthful heir to the crown, then lodged within its walls. In that year, also, Queen Margaret (the widow of Malcolm Canmore, and the mother of Edgar), to whose wisdom and sagacity he entrusted implicitly the internal polity of his kingdom, died in the Castle, of grief, on learning of his death, with that of Edward, their eldest son, both slain at the siege of Alnwick castle ; and while the usurper, relying on the general steepness of the rocky cliff, was urgent only to secure the regular accesses, the body of the Queen was conveyed through a postern gate, and down the steep declivity on the western side, to the Abbey Church of Dunfermline, where it lies interred; while the young Prince, escaping by the same egress, found protection in England, at the hand of his uncle, Edgar Atheling. In commemoration of the death of Queen Margaret, a church was afterwards erected, and endowed with revenues, by successive monarchs ; all trace of which has long since disappeared, the site of it being now occupied by the barracks forming the north side of the great square. In the reign of Alexander I., at the beginning of the twelfth century, the first distinct notices of the town as 8 royal residence are found ; while in that of his successor David, we discover the origin of many of the most important features still surviving. He founded the Abbey of Holyrood, styled by Fordun “ Monasterium Sanctae Crucis de Crag,” which was begun to be built in its present situation in the year 1128. The convent, the precursor of St David‘s Abbey, is said to have been placed at first within the Castle ; and some of the earliest gifts of its saintly founder to his new monastery, were the churches of the Castle and of St Cuthbert’s, immediately adjacent, with all their dependencies ; among which, one plot of land belonging to the latter is meted by ‘‘ the fountain which rises near the corner of the King’s garden, on the road leading to St Cuthbert’s church.” e According to Father Hay, the Nuns, from whom the Castle derived the name of Castrum Puellarum, were thrust out by St David, and in their place the Canons introduced by the Pope’s dispense, as fitter to live among souldiers. They continued in the Castle dureing Malcolm the Fourth his reign ; upon which account we have several1 charters of that king granted, apud Monasterium Sanctae Crucis de Castello Puellarum. Under Icing William [the Lion], who was a great benefactor to Holyrood-house, I fancie the Canons retired to the place which is now called the Abbay.” ’ King David built also for them, and for the use of the inhabitants, a mill, the nucleus of the village of Canonmills, which still retains many tokens of its early origin, though now rapidly being surrounded by the extending modern improvements. The charter of foundation of the Abbey of the HoIyrood, besides conferring valuable revenues, derivable from the general resources of the royal burgh of Edinburgh, gives them €1 107.1 [ll?S.] Lord Hailes recorda a monkish tradition, which may be received a~ a proof of the popular belief, in the strong attachment of the Queen to her husband. “ The hody of Margaret, Queen of Scotland, waa removed from its place of sepulture at Dunfermline, and deposited in L costly shrine. While the monks were employed in this service, they approached the tomb of her husband Malcolm. Still, as more hands were employed in raising it, the body became heavier. The spectators stood amazed ; and the humble monka imputed this phenomenon to their own unworthiness ; when a bystander cried out, ‘The Queen will not stir till equal honours are performed to her husband’ This having been done, the body of the Queen wa8 removed with ease,’’ -Annals, vol. i. p. 303. ’ Liber Cartarum Sancta Crucis, p. xi. * Father Hay, Ibid. xxii. Richard Augustin Hay, canon of St Genevieve, at PSrig and prospcclivc Abbot of Holpod at the Revolution, though an iudustrioue antiquary, aeemn to have had no better authority for this nunnery than the disputed name C&mm Puellarclm The body became on a sudden so heavy, that they were obliged to set it down.
Volume 10 Page 4
  Enlarge Enlarge  
4 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. a right to dues to nearly the same amount from the royal revenues at the port of Perth, the more ancient capital of Scotland; justifying the quaint eulogy of his royal descendant, that “he was an soir sanct for the crown.’” By another important grant of this charter, liberty is given to the Canons to erect a burgh between the Abbey and the town of Edinburgh, over which they are vested with supreme rule, with right of trial by duel, and by fire and water ordeal. Hence the origin of the burgh of Canongate, afterwards the seat of royalty, and the residence of the Scottish nobility, as long as Scotland retained either to herself. In the same charter also, the first authentic notice of the parish church of St Cuthbert’s, and the chapelries of Corstorphine and Libberton are found, by which we learn that that of St Cuthbert’s had already, at this early date, been endowed with very valuable revenues ; while it confirms to its dependency at Libberton, certain donations which had been made to it by ‘( Macbeth of Libberton,” in the [email protected] of David I., erroneously stated by Arnot a as Macbeth the Usurper. The well-known legend of the White Hart most probably had its origin in some real occurrence, magnified by the superstition of a rude and illiterate age. More recent observations at least suffice to show that it existed at a much earlier date than Lord Hailes referred it to.’ According to the relation of an ancient service-book of the monastery, in which it is preserved, King David, in the fourth year of his reign, was residing at the Castle of Edinburgh, then surrounded with ‘( ane gret forest, full of hartis, hyndis, toddis, and sic like manner of beistis ; ” and on the Rood Day, after the celebration of mass, he yielded to the solicitations of the young nobles in his train, and set forth to hunt, notwithstanding the earnest dissuasions of a holy canon, named Alkwine. “ At last, quhen he we; cumyn throw the vail that lyis to the eist fra the said Castell, quhare now lyis the Cannongait, the staill past throw the wod with sic noyis and dyn of bugillis, that all the bestis wer raisit fra thair dennis.” The King, separated from his train, was thrown from his horse, and about to be gored by a hart with auful and braid tyndis,” when a cross slipt into his hands, at sight of which the hart fled away. And the King was thereafter admonished, in a vision, to build the Abbey on the spot.’ The account is curious, as affording a glimpse of the city at that early period, contracted within its narrow limits, and encircled by a wild forest, the abode alone of the fox and the hind, where now for centuries the busy scenes of a royal burgh have been enacted. David I. seems to have been the earliest monarch who permanently occupied the Castle as a royal residence-an example which was followed by his successors, down to the disastrous period when it was surrendered into the hands of Edward I. ; so that with the reigu of this monarch, in reality begins the history of Edinburgh, as still indicated to the historian in the vestiges that survive at the present day. After the death of David I., we find the Castle successively the royal residence of his immediate successor, Malcolm IT., of Alexander II., and of William, surnamed the Lion, until after his defeat and capture by Henry IL of England, when it was surrendered with other principal fortresses of the kingdom, in ransom for the King’s liberty. Fortunately, however, that which was thus lost with the fortunes of war, was speedily restored by more peaceful means ; for an alliance Sir D. Lindsay’s Satyre of the Estaitis. Vide Liber Cart. Sancts Crucis, pp, 8 and 9. Ed. 1806, vol. ii. p. 67. Macbeth the Usurper waa slain 1056. ’ Amot, p. 5. Macbeth of Libberton’s name occurs aa a witness to several royal charters of David I. [1124-53.1 * Annals, David I. Liber Cart. Sancta, Crucis, p. xii.
Volume 10 Page 5
  Enlarge Enlarge