The Tron Kirk
designed by John Mylne
Completed in 1647
This old church has been many things, after it was no longer a church, including a concert/theater venue for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival but now it's full of artists and artisans, selling their goods, and arts and crafts.
I had found out about it on Instagram with photos from one of its vendors, The Edinburgh Natural Skincare Co. In fact, I didn't even bring lotion with me, determined that I would find them when I arrived in Edinburgh! (link at bottom of post)
Along with being natural products, made with yummy ingredients including essential oils, they have beautiful little hand lotion bars that come in cute little tins! I admit I'm a sucker for lovely packaging anyway, but in this case I'll be using my cute tin to make myself a little paint palette later. (When I do I'll post it!)
I also got a wonderful Geranium and Sweet Orange Lip balm (and one for my sister too!), a shampoo bar (which I'm loving and contributed to the my fun fluffy hair I had whilst in in Scotland) and my mom and I also shared a big jar of body butter that smelled like sunshine! (No one is paying me, I'm just a fan.)
The girl, above, was adorable and helped us out with the slew of products. We left with a load of yummy goodies and headed to Starbucks for an Iced Green Tea. (My addiction!) What I didn't know was that would be my last (purchased) iced tea until I was in the Glasgow airport, heading for Italy, two weeks later. Apparently, it's only Americans and Canadians that ask for iced drinks, at least according to one server.
My mom and I ended up making ice in our AirBnbs and that is how the whole iced tea craving situation was dealt with. There is almost always a solution. Of course, you can always just order Scotch.
St. Giles' Cathedral
St. Giles' Cathedral as it stands today, is very different than the 12th century version, which would have been a small rectangular building. As the story goes, the church was burned down in 1322 by the English army. It was rebuilt obviously in a much larger and more ornate Gothic style architecture ... which I always love. (I mean really, how can you not appreciated a good arch ... or fifty?)
Over the course of the following 150 years, side chapels were added by local big shots and people with the cash to pay for them. By the mid 1500s there were around 50 side altars.
"According to legend, St Giles himself had been a seventh-century Greek hermit who lived in the forests near Nîmes, in the south of France, with a tame deer as his only companion. One day the King of the Visigoths, out hunting, shot at the deer, only to find it held protectively in the arms of Giles, who had been wounded in the hand by the arrow. The King was impressed by the holy man, returned many times to speak to him, and finally persuaded him to become the abbot of a monastery which he founded for him. Giles was subsequently canonised, becoming the patron saint of lepers, nursing mothers and the lame."
Until the Reformation, it was a Catholic Church but in 1560, Scotland became officially Protestant. (It's now The Church of Scotland.) It's way more complicated than I want to go into here but I'm going to add a documentary links, if you are into it. I love that stuff, so I went nuts watching all the YouTube documentaries I could find on Scotland. Of course, depending on who makes the documentary or even biopic, you will see very different versions of John Knox, who preached at St. Giles and helped along the Reformation in Scotland.
The unicorn! Love that the Unicorn is National Animal of Scotland!
Here he is, below, John Knox. John Knox was born near Edinburgh in 1514 or 15. Like Martin Luther he started as priest before converting to Protestantism. He got famous preaching in England but had to bail for mainland Europe when Edward VI died and Mary Tudor (aka Bloody Mary) took over the crown. Otherwise, like many others he might have been burned at the stake.
When (Bloody) Mary Tudor died, Queen Elizabeth I took over. He had already made sweeping comments about how women should not be in charge, so when he came back to Isle, he headed to Scotland with the pleading of protestant nobles. Mary of Guise was in charge in Scotland while her daughter Mary Queen of Scots was living in France with her (also a king) husband. Mary of Guise was catholic and everything was in chaos with a struggle between the two versions of Christendom.
Long story short, Mary of Guise died and there was a treaty with the French who'd been allied and fighting along side the Catholics, and Protestantism won out. Thus ... The Church of Scotland.
Of course, Mary Queen of Scots came back (a Catholic) but she had to try to let everyone know that she was going to live and let live on the whole religion thing. That, my friends, is a story for another day. Suffice it to say, Knox didn't buy it and he and Mary did not become best friends. He was totally freaked out that she'd be like Bloody Mary, and that the whole Protestantism thing would backslide.
On a lighter note ... cool pipes!
The Thistle Chapel
Completed in 1911
designed by Robert Lorimer
The craftspeople who did the work on this ornate chapel, with its beautiful detailed carvings, were incredible!
Back in the main church, a rehearsal was going one. As you can imagine, with the acoustics, it was magical to hear beautiful classical music while looking up at all of the gorgeous stained glass windows.
Holy Socks for "wee bairns."
St. Margaret, St. Giles and St. David
My mom snapped this of me near the entrance where are these lovely "gates." (I''m wearing my Clan Cameron tartan scarf. I do love to theme dress!)
Here's a great BBC Documentary on John Knox. It took some time to find an even handed doc. Much out there either is made by Protestant Knox Super Fans or at the other end of the spectrum, those that put him forward as a nightmare, chauvinistic zealot, or the jerk who was a thorn in the side of Mary Queen of Scots. Thankfully there's the BBC doc, which feels a little more scholarly and shows him with some complexity. Plus, I love a good reenactment that's done on location!
After that we were off to one of the most visited destinations for visitors ...
How beautiful is this light filled gallery?!
I could have spent so much more time in this museum. There is so much fascinating Scottish history! Then, there are all of the things the Scots invented, which makes sense when you realized they had one of the highest literacy rates before most countries attempted to educate their working class. Anyway, there are all sorts of reasons for that, but this post is getting very long! A fantastic book that covers this is How the Scots Invented the Modern World, by Arthur Herman. (link below)
Anyway, I was excited for their big special exhibition Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites! 350 objects, and non of which I could take photos of! Most pieces were brought in and many are owned by the Queen Elizabeth!
Here's the curator explaining the exhibition. I'm not sure if the person who filmed it drank too many cappuccinos, (very shaky!) but he shows my favorite painting at the beginning!
Since the painting is owned by the Queen and they don't have the rights, I guess that meant no postcards or prints. It was so beautifully painted. Ugh. All I could do was photograph the catalog in the gift shop. I didn't want to carry the heavy book around for the next few weeks!
One of the pieces in the exhibition, was an amazing tartan suit owned by one of the Jacobites. This short video shows this incredible piece and tells the story of tartan and the man who wore the suit. By the way, I would totally wear it. Maybe not together though. ;)
This next one is kind of fun. The actor who played Bonne Prince Charlie in Outlander was at the exhibition and interviewed about the various exhibits, which they show in the exhibition. Kind of nice because I couldn't take photos for you!
The museum is full of art, artifacts as well as serving as a natural history museum and science center! The next photo is a bit blurry but you can maybe make it out and get a sense of the scope.
Since the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was going on, there was a free concert in the big open gallery of the museum!
They were playing music that went along with the Bonnie Prince Charlie exhibition but my video was short and pretty bad, so I played detective and found a YouTube video of this pair of musicians playing another venue!
One thing I'd seen online was the "Mary Harp." Having my own past experience as a harpist, I had to see it! Isn't it beautiful!? Love the carving on the neck!
It's said to have been a gift to Mary Queen of Scots and I loved trying to imagine her playing it!
My travel journal sketch ...
Saint Andrew - Patron Saint of Scotland
This beautifully ornate and delicate necklace was worn by Mary Queen of Scots. For some reason this one got to me, imagining this actually hanging around her neck.
The Royal Arms of James V
Carved Oak Panel
Sort of Gruesome ... The Maiden, used from 1564-1710, for beheading criminals. Given by the Lord Provost and Magistrates of Edinburgh, to the museum in 1797.
This is a replica of the tomb of the Mary, Queen of Scots' at Westminster Abbey.
Gold Enamelled, Onyx,
Gold Enamelled, Onyx,
Cameo Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots
locket, late 16th Century
Cameo and mount, French
Penicuik Jewels (numbers 2 and 3)
Said to have belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots
Penicuik jewels, said to have been given to one of Mary's supporters during her imprisonment.
Remember Dolly? Well, I guess she was a Scot.
Dolly the Sheep
Roslin Institue, Midlothian, Scotland
Ovis aries Linnaeus, 1758 - Sheep
Born to a surrogate, she's known for being the first cloned mammal.
Scottish entrepreneur, James Douglas Fletcher (1857-1927) Acquired this sculpture in 1902, for his home Rosehaugh, on the Black Isle.
I ended up getting so hungry I couldn't stay any longer. My parents left to pick up our rental car, and I headed to George Square where there was a whole big food and drink area set up for the Festival.
Edinburgh Food Fest
University of Edinburgh
So many yummy food trucks and vendors! Above creme brûlée, and below ... Covfefe coffee. Funny Scots. ;)
There were so many people! They laid astroturf so everyone could just sit anywhere and when it started drizzling people didn't even move! So funny, in most places people would run for shelter.
I'm not really sure why this looked so good, or why I thought an Espresso martini would be good on an empty stomach.
But it looked so fabulous, I had to have one! About 2/3 the way through though, I realized I needed to go find food!
my travel journal
And then I got smoked salmon, which was delicious!!! I should have gotten 2 of those. Anyway, I highly recommend getting that if you see their truck.
I love this video. So cute. Probably because on the whole, I love the Scots. I first found it on the National Museum of Scotland website. Definitely, worth a watch. All different kinds of Scots! ;)
If the video looks green, click on the bottom right hand word that says "VIMEO" and you can watch it on that site.
Well, after filling my belly with espresso martini and seafood, I headed back to the Royal Mile and walked all the way to Holyrood Palace. On the walk there I just kept looking around at this beautiful city and thinking, I could totally live here!
Edinburgh Food Fest-George Square
Next up, Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace, and more Edinburgh!
Blessings and light!