The History of Leith

October 17, 2012

The little parish edifice

DOWN the southern slope of the hill on which St.
Giles’s church stands, its burying-ground—covered
with trees, perchance anterior to the little parish
edifice as existing in the time of
David I.—sloped to the line of the Cowgate, where
it was terminated by a wall and chapel dedicated
to the holy rood, built, says Arnot, “in memory of
Christ crucified, and not demolished till the end of
the sixteenth century.” In July, 1800, a relic ol
this chapel was found near the head of Forrester’s
Wynd, in former days the western boundary of the
churchyard. This relic—a curiously sculptured
group—like a design from Holbein’s ” Dance of
Death,” was defaced and broken by the workmen.
Amid the musicians, who brought up the rear,
was an angel, playing on the national bagpipe a
conceit which appears among the sculpture at
Roslin chapel. So late as 1620 “James Lennox
is elected chaplain of the chapelry of the holy rood,
in the burgh kirk-yard of St. Giles.” Hence it is
supposed that the nether kirk-yard remained in use
long after the upper had been abandoned as a
place of sepulture.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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