Thursday, August 04, 2005

Edinburgh

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The baby died at birth. A changeling was substituted. That was the legend.

Many years later, in 1830, the bones of a baby were found. The bones, wrapped in richly embroidered silk, were in a small oak coffin. The coffin had been hidden in the wall of a tiny room. It was the room where Mary Queen of Scots had given birth to a son. Mary's 'son' was the future King James I of England.

Get off the train in Edinburgh and within a few steps you are in Edinburgh Castle where you can visit the room where James I 'was born'.

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Leaving the castle you may stroll along the Royal Mile to the house of John Knox. As you may recall, Knox was 59 when he married a girl aged 17.

It was Knox, the Roman Catholic priest, who protested against the corruption of some of his fellow priests. It was Knox who became a galley slave. It was Knox who became a friend of the cruel and misguided John Calvin. It was Knox who opposed Catholic Mary Queen of Scots and who led the Protestants in the Reformation.

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The Royal Mile has many medieval houses, closes and wynds which helped inspire R L Stevenson, the author of Jekyll and Hyde.

Philip Hensher, in the Spectator, reviewing 'Robert Louis Stevenson' by Claire Harman:

"Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde ... a thousand sinister touches ... Hyde smaller and younger than Jekyll... What is it really about? Homosexuality?

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At the far end of the Royal Mile lies the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Here you may visit the apartment where Mary Queen of Scot's Italian 'lover' was murdered. Riccio was Mary's secretary. While Mary was having dinner with the Italian, Mary's husband, Lord Darnley, arrived and Riccio was stabbed to death.

Have a look at Edinburgh University, on Chambers St, off South Bridge. This is the site of the hous e where Darnley, supposed father of James I of England, was murdered. The house got blown up and Darnley was found strangled. Mary's new friend, Bothwell, was acquitted of the crime! Enough of violence.

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Greyfriar's Kirk, Greyfriars place, has the National Covenant (some Scots didn't want bishops and signed this document) which led to the Killing Times.

Excorcism has apparently failed to remove the ghosts of some of the Covenanters who were imprisoned and died here. There have been a number of recent reports of strange happenings.

In Greyfriars churchyard you can see the grave that was watched over by the Skye terrier, Greyfriars Bobby. The dog supposedly stood by the grave of his master for 14 years. There is a statue to Bobby at the corner of George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row.

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Edinburgh, one of the world's most attractive cities, is the capital of the independent republic of Scotland.

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