Holyrood (Holy Cross) Palace was today’s main daytime attraction. It’s one of the three official royal residences (Windsor and Buckingham being the other two.) The Queen’s here every July before she goes upcountry to Balmoral. Now that we’re caught up on that, we can mention that the place was a castle as far back as the 12th C. It’s not built on a military height like Edinburgh Castle, which stands on the other end of the “Royal Mile,” but it’s history is just as grisly. After revisions over the centuries, it assumed its final shape in the French Versailles fashion in the 17th under Charles II, though he never lived here. No photos permitted inside, but picture ornate ceilings, lots of tapestry of scenes from Greek and Roman mythology, views of splendid gardens. All that in the finest fashion.
Under the beauty of it all, there were all the murders connected with among others, Mary, Queen of Scots (not, probably, by her.) that took place in the quarters we saw. In case you’re not familiar, things got so hot for her in Scotland after they stole her baby to “protect” him (the future James VI/Scotland, James I/England of Bible fame) that she ran to England to ask her cousin Elizabeth I for asylum. She got asylum all right–in a cell– then eventual decapitation. After a fair trial, of course. All in the family.
Outside Holyrood, the remains of an Augustinian Abbey, where a lot of the same kind of grim activity took place. Thus, this image from one of the Abbey walls serves as an appropriate comment on the Palace tour itself and a transition to the Ghost Walk we took in the evening.
In between times, however, we must recount the great adventure of Eleanore in the Tea Shoppe.
There was an expression of affection (her), a move toward a hug (both), then a cascade of hot water from an upset teacup (who knows by whom?), much of which landed on the 5-year-old’s arm. In her words, it “really, really, really, really, really hurt.” The shop staff was on the job in an instant. E. was sat down beside a sink with cool water running on the arm. A first aid kit emerged, and a gauze soaked with Aloe Vera applied. Soon, the hurt subsided, and brave Eleanore was smiling once more.
But. . . did you know that underneath South Bridge are catacombs and haunted rooms? Oh, yes, there are. Intended as a shopping mall, no one came, so the homeless and the criminals took them over for many years. Finally, they were bricked up to stop the horrors inside. They were rediscovered a hundred years later, but the spirit of the uglies that occurred in these dank and dripping chambers remain. See the ghost in the photo? Nearly got us, it did.
But back into the light now. You may have heard of the Firth of Forth. The picture here looks across said Firth to the Kingdom of Fife, and on to the Norf–er, North–Sea on the right. All going to prove you don’t have to go to the highlands to see high land because Edinburgh has managed to keep its highest ground from being developed. We spent a good deal of today tromping around Holyrood Park, which is composed of the hard-rock Salisbury Crags, topped by a formation called “Arthur’s Seat.” I’m going to assume you know which Arthur. We didn’t make it to the highest point, but did manage to garner some views.
We couldn’t doctor the pictures sufficiently to show the splendor of it all, but straight behind us is Edinburgh Castle, way below and to both sides is the greensward which is mown and which Edingurghians enjoy in great numbers; the left and below is Holyrood Palace, above and to the right is Arthur’s Seat, which is on a crag even higher even than we are. Not Everest, but not bad for a couple of 70-something’s out for a stroll.