The History of Leith

November 25, 2011

THE FOUNDATION OF THE ABBEY

In the fourt yeir of his [David’s] regne this nobill Prince com to visit the Madin Castell of Edinburgh. At this time all the boundis of Scotland were ful of woddis, lesouris, and medois; for the countre wes more gevin to store of bestiall than ony productioun of cornis; and about this Castell was ane gret forest, full of haris, hindis, toddis,1 and sic-like maner of beistis. Now wes the Rude day cumyn callit the Exaltation of the Croce: and, because the samen was ane hie solemne day, the Kyng past to his contemplation. Eftir that the messes were done, wi’ maist solempnitie and reverence, compeirit afore him many young and insolen baronis of Scotland richt desirous to haif sum plesur and solace be chase of hundis in the said forest. At this time wes wi’ the Kyng ane man of singular and devoit life, namyt Alkwine Chonnon eftir the ordour of Sanct Augustine, quhilk wes lang time Confessour afore to King David in Ingland, the time thet he wes Erie of Huntingtoun
and Northumberland. This religious man dissaudit the Kyng, be mony reasonis, to pas to this huntis; and allegit the day was so solempne, be reverence of the haly croce, that he suld gif him evar for that day to contemplation than ony other exersition. Nochteles his dissuasion was lityll avalit for the King wes finallie so provokit be inoportune solicitatioun of his baronis, that he past, notwithstanding the solempnite of this day, to this huntis. At last, quhen he wes cumin throw the vaile that lyis to the gret cist fra the said Castell, quhare now lyis the
Canongait, the staill2 past throw the wod with sic noyis and dyn of raches and bugillis, that all the bestis wer rasit fra tnair dennis. Now wes the Kyng cumyn to the fute of the crag, and all his noblis severit heir and thair fra him at thair game and solace; quhen suddenlie apperit to his sicht the farest hart that ever wes sene afore with levand creatour. The noyis and dyn of this hart rynnand (as apperit) with auful and br.aid tindis,5 maid the Kingis horse so effrayit, that na renyeis mycht hald him; but ran perforce ouir myre and mossis away with the King. Nochtheles the hart followit so fast, that he dang baith the King and his hors to the grund. Then the King kest abak his handis betwix the tindis of this hart, to haif sauit him fra the straik thairof. And the haly croce slaid incontinent in his handis. The hart fled away with gret violence and evanist6 in the same place quhare now springis the Rude well. The pepil richt affrayitly returnit to him out of all partis of the wod to comfort him eftir his trubill, and fell on kneis devotly adoring the haly croce. For it was not cumin but some hevinly providence, as weill appeiris; for thair is no man can schaw of quhat mater it is of, metal or tre. Sone eftir, the King returnit to his Gastell, and in the nicht following, he was admonist be ane vision in his sleip, to big ane abbay of Channonis regular in the same place quhare he gat the croce. Als sone as he was awalkinnit he schew his visione to Alkwine his Confessour. And he na thing suspendit his gud mind, but evar inflammit him with maist fervent devotion thairto. The King incontinent, sent his traist servandis in France and Flanderis, and brocht richt crafty masonis to big this Abbay. Syne dedicat it in the honour o%this haly croce. This croce remanit continewally in the said Abbay to the time of King David Bruce, quhilk wes unhappily tane with it at Durame, quhare it is halden yit in great veneration.
From Hector Boece’s account in Bellenden’s Cronikles of
Scotland, the twelf Buke, p. 297

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