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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


ECCLESIASTICAL ANTIQUITIES. 381 others. The pillars are decorated with foliated capitals, elaborately finished with sculptured shields and angels’ heads ; the shafts are fluted according to a regular and beautiful design, and their bases are enriched with foliated sculpture ; while the other pillars of the choir are plain octagons, with their capitals formed by a few simple mouldings. The arching and groining, moreover, of this extended portion of the aisles entirely differs from the western and earlier part ; for whereas the latter are formed of concentric arches springing from four sides and meeting in one keystone, so that the top of the windows can reach no higher than the spring of the arch, the former is constructed on the more nsual plan of a goined roof, running across the aisle, and admitting of the two eastmost windows on each side rising nearly to the top of the arch. No less obvious proofs are discoverable of the addition of the clerestory at the same period. There are flaws remaining in the lower part of its walk, marking distinctly how far the old work has been taken down. A slight inclination outward, in part of the wall immediately above the pillars, shows that the roof of the choir had corresponded in height with the old nave ; and portions of the original groining springing from the capitals of the pillars still remain, only partially chiselled away. The extreme beauty of the clerestory groining, and its remarkably rich variety of bosses, all furnish abdndant evidence of its being the work of a later age than the other parts of the building. On €he centre boss, at the division of the two eastmost compartments of the ceiling, is the monogram fQ$, boldly cut on a large shield; and on the one next to it westward, the following legend is neatly arranged round a carved centre in bold relief :-%be + gCil .. pbl . bnpl + teCU +-an abbreviation evidently of the salutation of the Virgin,-Ave Maria, gratia p Zena, dominus tecum,-though from ita height, and the contractions necessary to bring it within such circumscribed dimensions, it is not easily deciphered. These, it is probable, stood directly over the site of the high altar, which does not appear to have been removed from its original position at the east end of the old choir upon its enlargement and elongation in the fifteenth century, as we find that Walter Bertrame, burgess of Edinburgh, by a charter dated December 20, 1477, founded a chaplainry at ‘‘ the Altar of St fiancia, situate behind the Great Altar,” and endowed it with various annual rents from property in Edinburgh and Leith.l Another striking feature of the additions made to St Giles’s Church in the fifteenth century, is the numerous heraldic devices introduced among the ornaments, which afford striking confirnation as to the period when they were executed., The north-east, or King’s Pillar, as it is generally called, of which we have already given a view; bears on the east and west sides the royal arms of Scotland ; on the north side those of May of Gueldersthe Queen of James 11. and the founder of the Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinityimpaled with the royal arms ; and on the south side the arms of France. James II. succeeded to the throne, a mere child, in 1438, and was killed by the bursting of a cannon at the siege of Roxburgh Castle in 1460 ; and the remaining armorial bearings afford further proof of the erection of this addition to the church between these two periods. On the opposite pillar there are, on the south side, the arms of the good town ; and on the west those of Bishop Remedy, the cousin of James IL and his able and faithful councillor, who was promoted to the metropolitan see in 1440, and died in 1466. The other arms are those of Nicolson, and Preston of Craigmillar. On the engaged pillar, on the north side of the Maitland, p. 271. Inventar of Pious Donations. MS. Ad. Lib. ’ Ante, p. 24.
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382 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. altar, are the arms of Thomas de Cranston, Seutifer Regis, a man of considerable influence in the reign of James IL, and a frequent ambassador to foreign courts, who died about 1470; and on the engaged pillar to the south, the arms are those of Isabel, Duchess of Albany and Countess of Lennox, who, in 1450-about a year before her death-founded the Collegiate Church of Dumbarton, and largely endowed other religious foundations.’ Maitland remarks-“ In the year 1462, a great work seems to have been in hand at this church ; for it was by the Town Council ordained that all persons presuming to buy corn before it was entered should forfeit one chalder to the church work.” This may be supposed to refer to the same additions to the choir begun in the reign of James 11. and then in progress, though it will be seen that other works were proceeded with about the same time. The work had no doubt been aided by the contributions of that monarch, and may have been further encouraged by the gifts of his widowed queen for masses to his soul. The repetition of the royal arms on the King’s Pillar is probably intended to refer to James III., in whose reign the work was finished. To the south of the choir, a second aisle of three arches, with a richly-groined ceiling, forms the Preston Aisle, erected agreeably to a charter granted to William Prestoune, of Gortoune, by the city of Edinburgh in 1454, setting forth (‘ pat forasmekle as William of Prestoun the fadir, quam God assoillie, made diligent labour and grete menis, be a he and mighty Prince, the Eing of France, and mony uyr Lordis of France, for the gettyn of the arme bane of Saint Gele ;-the quhilk bane he freely left to our moyr kirk of Saint Gele of Edinburgh, withoutyn ony condition makyn;-we considrand ye grete labouris and costis yat he made for the gettyn yrof, we pmit, as said is yat within six or seven zere, in all the possible and gudely haste we may, yat we sal big an ile, furth frae our Lady Ile, quhare ye said William lyes in the said ile, to be begunyin within a zere ; in the quhilk ile yare sall be made a brase for his crest in bosit work ; and abone the brase a plate of brase, with a writ, specifiand, the bringing of yat relik be him in Scotland, with his armis ; and his armis to be put, in hewyn marble, uyr thre parts of the ile.” ’ The charter further binds the Provost and Council to found an altar there, with a chaplain, and secures to the lineal descendants of the donor the priyilege of bearing the precious gift of St Giles’s arm bone in all public processions. The aims of Preston still remain on the roof of the aisle, as engaged to be executed in this charter ; and the same may be seen repeated in different parts of their ancient stronghold of Craipillar Castle ; where also occurs their Rebus, sculptured on a stone panel of the outer wall : a press, and tun or barrel.’ They continued annually to exercise their chartered right of bearing the arm bone of the Patron Saint till the memorable year 1558, when the College of St Giles walked for the last time in procession, on the 1st of September, the festival of St Giles, bearing in procession a statue hired for the occasion, from the Grey Friars, to personate the Great Image of the Saint, as large M life, because ‘( the auld Saint Geile” had been fist drowned in the North Loch as an adulterer, or encourager of idolatry, and thereafter 1 A letter on the subject of these armorial bearings, signed A D. [the late Alexander Deuchar, we presume, a firatrate authority on all matters of heraldry], appeared in the Scota Nagaaine, June 1818. The writer promises to send the result of further observations, but he does not appear to have followed out his intentions. ’ Maitland, p. 271. a Archmlogia Scotica, vol. i. p. 575. ’ The Rebus of Prior Bolton, in Westminster Abbey, is very similar ta this : a tun, or barrel, with a bolt thrust - through it.
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