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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Koslin.] THE THREE BATTLES ON ONE DAY. 351 hillside, and not beneath, but is attached to its eastern end, the means of communication between the two being by a steep descent of steps. Its use has sorely puzzled antiquaries, though it forms a handsome little chapel, with ribbed arches and roof of stone. Under its eastern window is an altar, and there is a piscina and anibry for the sacramental plate, together with a comfortable fireplace and a rob+ of closets. ?? Its domestic appurtenances,? says a writer, clearly- show. it. to have been the <house of: the priestvrcustodier of the chapel, and the ecclesiastical?types first named were for his private nieditation ; and thus the puzzle ceases.? Near the,chapel is St, Mathew?s Well. The parish of Roslin possesses many relics and traditions of the famous three battles which were fought there in one day-the 24th of February, 1302 :- ? Three triumphs in a day, Three hosts subdued in one, Beneath one common sun !? Three armies scattered like the spray On the 26th of January, 1302, the cruel and treacherous Edward I. of England concluded a treaty of truce-not peace-with Scotland, while, on the other hand, he prepared to renew the war against her. To this end he marched in an army of 2o,ooo--Some say 30,ooo-men, chiefly cavalry, under Sir John de Segrave, with orders?less to fight than to waste and devastate the already wasted country. To obtain ptovisions with more ease, Segrave marched his force in three columns, each a mile or two apart, and the 24th of February saw them on the north bank of the Esk, at three places, still indicated by crossed swords on the county map ; the first at Roslin ; the second . at Loanhead, on high ground, still named, from the battle, ? Killrig,? north of the village ; and the third at Park Bum, near Gilmerton Grange. Meanwhile, Sir John Comyn, Guardian of the Kingdom, and Sir Simon Fraser of Oliver Castle (the friend and comrade of Wallace), Heritable Sheriff of Tweeddale, after mustering a force of only 8,000 men-but men carefully selected and well armed-marched from Biggar in the night, and in the dull grey light of the February morning, in the wooded glen near Roslin Castle, came suddenly on the first column, under Segrave. Animated by a just thirst for vengeance, the Scots made a furious attack, and Segrave was rapidly routed, wounded, and taken prisoner, together with his brother, his son, sixteen knights, and thirty esquires, called sergeants by the rhyming English chronicler Langtoft. . The contest was barely over when the second column, alarmed by the fugitives, advanced from its camp at Loanhead, ?? and weary though the Scots were with their forced night march, flushed with their first success, and full of the most rancorous hate of their invaders, they rushed to the charge, and though the conflict was fiercer, were victorious. A vast quantity of pillage fell into their hands, together with Sir Ralph the Cofferer, a paymaster of the English army.? The second victory had barely been achieved, when the third division, under Sir Robert Neville, with all its arms and armour glittering in the morning sun, came in sight, advancing from the neighbourhood of Gilmerton, at a time when many of the Scots had laid aside a portion of their arms and helmets, and were preparing some to eat, and others to sleep. Frase; and Comyn at first thought of retiring, but that was impracticable, as Neville was so close upon, them. They flew from rank to rank, says Tytler, ?and having equipped the camp followers in the arms of their slain enemies, they made a furious charge on the English, and routed them with great slaughter.? Before the second and third encounters took place, old historians state that the Scots had recourse to the cruel practice of slaying their prisoners, which was likely enough in keeping with the spirit with which the wanton English war was conducted in those days. Sir Ralph the Cofferer begged Fraser to spare his life, offering a large ransom for it. ? Your coat of mail is no priestly habit,? replied Sir Simon. ? Where is thine alb-where thy hood ? Often have you robbed us all and done us grievous wrong, and now is our time to sum up the account, and exact strict payment.?? With these words he hewed off the gauntleted hands of the degraded priest, and then by one stroke severed his head from his body. Old English writers always attribute the glory of the day to Wallace ; but he was not present. The pursuit lasted sixteen miles, even as far as Biggar, and 12,000 of the enemy perished, says Sir James Balfour. English historians have attempted to conceal the triple defeat of their countrymen on this occasion. They state that Sir Robert Neville?s division stayed behind to hear mass, and repelled the third Scottish attack, adding that none who heard mass that morning were slain. But, unfortunately for this statement, Neville himself was among the dead ; and Langtoft, in his very minute account of the battle, admits that the English were utterly routed. Many places in the vicinity still bear names con- .
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352 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Roslin. ? scratching on a pewter plate two verses, which are ~ preserved among his works, and run thus :- ? My blessings on you, sonsie wife ! . I ne?er was here before ; Nae heart could wish for more. You?ve gien us walth for horn and knife, ? IIeaven keep you free frae care and strife, Till far ayont fourscore?; And while I toddle on through life, I?ll ne?er gang by your door.? Bums and Nasmyth, it would appear, had spent the day in ?a long ramble among the Pentlands, which, having sharpened the poet?s appetite, lent an additional relish to the evening meal.? It is stated in a recent work that the old inn is still kept by the descendants of those who estab lished it at the Restoration. nected with the victory : the ?Shinbones Field,? where bones have been ploughed up ; the ? Hewan,? where the onslaught was most dreadful; the ? Stinking Rig,;? where the slain were not properly interred ; the ?? Kill-burn,? the current of which was reddened with blood j and ? Mount Marl,? a farm so called from a tradition that when the English were on the point of being finally routed, one of them cried to his leader, ? Mount, Marl-and ride ! ? Many coins of Edward I. have also been found hereabout. confirmations of this charter from James VI. and Charles 11. In modern times it has subsided into a retreat of rural quietness, and the abode of workers in the bleaching-fields and powdermills. In the old inn of Roslin, which dates from 1660, Dr. Johnson and Boswell, in 1773, about the close of their Scottish tour, dined and drank tea. There, also, Robert Bums breakfasted in company with Nasniyth the artist, and being well entertained by Mrs. Wilson, the landlady, he rewarded her by ROSLIN CHAPEL:-THE CHANCEL. ( A f t r a Pkologtagh Sy G. w. ki?ilson b CO.) In 1754, near Roslin, a stone coffin nine feet long was uncovered by the plough, It contained a human skeleton, supposed to be that of a chief killed in the battle ; but it was much more probably that of some ancient British wamor. The village of Roslin stands on a bank about a mile east of the road to Peebles. About 1440, this village, or town, was the next place in importance to the east of Edinburgh and Haddington; and fostered by the care of the St. Clairs of Roslin, it became populous by the resort of a great concourse of all ranks of people. In 1456 it received from James 11. a royal charter creating it a burgh of barony, with a market cross, a weekly market, and an annual fair on the Feast of St. Simon and Jude -the anniversary of the battle of Roslin; and respectively in the years 1622 and 1650 it received
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