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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


E CCL ESIA S TICA L A NTIQ UITIES. 379 Edinburgh, in the reign of David I. and long afterwards, was, as we have already shown, no more than an assemblage of rude huts, constructed in full anticipation of their falling a prey to the torch of the southern invaders. Froissart represents the Scots exclaiming more than two centuries later, “ thoughe the Englishe brinne our houses, we care lytell therefore; we shall make them agayne chepe ynongh! ” Nevertheless, it is to David I. that Edinburgh owes its earliest improvement and much of its future prosperity. He was the first monarch who made the Castle of Edinburgh his chief residence; and by his munificent monastic foundation in its neighbourhood, he made it the centre towards which the wealth of the adjacent country flowed, and thereby erected it into the capital of the Lothians centuries before it assumed its position as the capital of the kingdom. It cannot, therefore, surprise us to discover evidence of the rebuilding of the Parish Church of Edinburgh about the period of his accession to the throne ; and we accordingly find that some beautiful remains of the original edifice, somewhat -earlier in style than the oldest portions of the Abbey Church of Holyrood, were only destroyed about the middle of last century. The annexed vignette, copied from a very rare print, represents a beautiful Norman doorway which formed the entrance to the nave of St Giles’s Church on the north side, and was only demolished about the year 1760. It stood immediately below the third window from the west, within the line of the external wall. access to it was obliterated in the alterations of 1829. This fragment sufliciently enables us to picture the little Parish Church of St Giles in the reign of David I. Built in the massive style of the early N0rma.n period, it would consist simply .of a nave and chancel united by a rich Norman chancel arch; altogether occupying only a portion of the centre aisle of the present nave. Small circular-headed windows, decorated with zig-zag mouldings, would admit the light to its sombre interior; while its west front was in all probability surmounted by a simple belfry, from whence the bell would daily summon the natives of the hamlet to matins and vespers, and with slow measured sounds toll their knell as they were lain in the neighbouring churchyard. A plain round archway that had given This ancient church was never entirely demolished. Its solid masonry was probably very partially affected by the ravages of the invading forces of Edward IL, in 1322, when Holyrood was spoiled; or by those of his son in 1335, when the whole country was wasted with fire and sword. The town was again subjected to the like violence, probably with results little more lasting, by the conflagration in 1385, when the English army under Richard IL occupied the town for five days, and then laid it and the Abbey of Holyrood in ashes. The Norman architecture disappeared piece-meal, as chapels and aisles were added to the original fabric by the piety of private donors, or by the zeal of its own
Volume 10 Page 416
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