April 29, 2017
From Gretna Green we rode on to Edinburgh for two nights. (If you don't know that it sounds like '-boro' at the end, look it ups for yourself. While you are at it, look up Norwich and note that it can be pronounced a couple of ways, neither of which is like "nor-witch'.) Our hotel was on Princes Street, the main drag on the New Town side.
On Saturday morning we walked down the street by the Sir Walter Scott Monument, the largest monument to a writer in the world, I guess if you don't count the Walt Whitman Bridge. The style seems to be a Victorian idea of Gothic. His dog Maida is shown by his side in the sculpture. Somebody said one can climb the tower. I don't recall anybody in the group mentioning that they did. It stands in a park near the Waverly Railroad Station, named for a series of Scott's novels. I had arrived at that station with my friends Doris and Ed Simpson on a train from London many years ago. Some day I might find slides from that visit and scan them in to be posted.
We crossed the bridge over to the Old Town to explore the sights on the Royal Mile.
We headed first to St. Giles’ Cathedral, where we had an early tour scheduled. Unfortunately, the guide wasn't there, so we saw some of it on our own as Conor worked with their staff to reschedule our tour. The church is about halfway down the Royal Mile, which has the Edinburgh Castle on one end and Holyrood Palace on the other end. We headed down the street to the latter first. I'll go ahead and put all my pictures of St. Giles’ together here, for simplicity's sake.
St. Giles was a Greek hermit living in France. When a deer, who was his only companion, was shot by a Visigoth, he was shot in the hand, protecting the deer. From that, he became an abbot of a monastery the king founded for him, and subsequently, the patron saint of lepers, and the patron saint of Edinburgh.
Strangely enough, the church became a collegiate church during its Roman Catholic times, but never a cathedral. King Charles I made it one when he appointed a bishop there. When the Church of Scotland got rid of bishops, the "cathedral" name stuck, as it did in other Scottish former cathedrals. Anyhow, I will ignore lots of history and move on with the pictures. St. Giles’ is the mother church of Presbyterians. John Knox’s statue has now been moved inside, and he isn't around to complain about it. The main distinction of the building is the graceful crown atop the tower.
The stained glass wouldn't have been approved of by the early Presbyterians, either. The oldest in the church is from the nineteenth century. I have tried using HDR techniques to depict the stain glass as it sort of looks in person. Two or more exposures were made of the scenes to capture the colors and patterns in the glass while showing the details in the shadows. I don't think these are that realistic in effect, but it beats having overexposed windows or underexposed interiors. Maybe I'll get better at doing this some day, or maybe the software will get better, or I'll learn how to utilize its features better. Anyway, this sort of gives you a clue as to what it was like being there, which is what I try to do when I edit the pictures.
The Thistle Chapel is especially lovely. The Order of the Thistle is the top order of Scottish chivalry. The chapel contains stalls for the sixteen knights and royalty. You see the top of the center stalls further down this page.
In the early morning visit we got to hear someone practice a bit on the magnificent tracker organ, built in 1992.
The back of the organ case is covered in glass, so you can see the mechanism.
“They've slain the Earl of Murray, and Lady Mondegreen."
The Earl of Murray ruled Scotland as regent after his sister Mary Queen of Scots abdicated. The monument to him shown above replaced an earlier one that had been destroyed. The nearby stained-glass windows shown below depict his assassination in 1570 and his funeral. His good friend John Knox is shown preaching.
“José, can you see?” The earl's death interests me in large part because hundreds of years later it gave the English language a new and useful term, “mondegreen.” As a girl, writer Sylvia Wright had misheard the words in a ballad “They’ve slain the Earl of Murray and laid him on the green,” as “They've slain the Earl of Murray and Lady Mondegreen.” After she knew better, she still preferred her version with its romantic vision of the loving couple dying together. She later coined the term to describe the common phenomenon of misheard lyrics and the like.