Monday, November 30, 2009

Scotland: The Castle and St. Margaret's Chapel . .

Today I took the City Sightseeing Tour Bus and visited the Holyroodhouse and Edinburgh Castle (which was free due to St. Andrews Day Homecoming Celebration). Yay!

The Holyroodhouse sits at the end of the Royal Mile and is the official residence in Scotland of the British Royal family. There is an impressive collection of furnishings, plasterwork ceilings and tapestries in the State Apartments. The remains of Holyrood Abbey, located within the grounds, date back to the 12th and 13th centuries. The entrance fee is 10 pounds and it includes an audio guide. I thought it was very interesting to visit and learn about so much history, especially the brutal killing of Queen Mary’s confidante, David Riccio, by her second husband. There was some real drama back then.

I didn’t intend to visit the Edinburgh Castle until Monday, however, learning that it is still free to enter today and with fewer crowds from the day before because of the freezing cold weather, I hopped off the bus to visit the castle. The Castle is perched high on an extinct volcano. With its position, it would’ve been difficult for enemies to attack it successfully. There are several items and displays of interest, Mons Meg, a six ton canon gun, the Scottish National War Memorial (which was built to honour the 500,000 Scotsmen killed in the Great War), the 1 O’clock Gun that is fired everyday, the Crown Jewels, the Scottish National War Memorial, etc. I even got to see a cool performance by a bag pipe band as I exited the Castle. They were performing for some dignitary visiting the castle. Lucky me! But the most interesting thing that fascinated me the most on the entire grounds is the smallest and oldest building, St. Margaret’s Chapel.

St. Margaret’s Chapel is a very small chapel but it is a very special place. You can literally feel its special meaning when entering. I have read of Macbeth, King of Socts. Well, Macbeth was succeeded by King Malcoml III, who married Princess Margaret after she found refuge in Scotland when her family was excluded from the English throne by William the Conqueror. Queen Margaret was one of the most lovely Queens there has ever been and she was loved because she herself loved so much and did all she could for her subjects. Above all she loved God; and, loving her people, she wanted them to love God, too. This little chapel, built on the rock of Edinburgh Castle, is called by her name; and to this day, St. Margaret’s Chapel seems still to weave the spell of her love and prayers.

The chapel stands on the very spot were it has always stood, a place set apart. In days of siege and war, as well in days of plenty and of peace, people have come here to give God their workship. Those who were great in power, Kings and Queens, lords and ladies, knights and lairds, soldiers of the sword and of the cross, those who were great in humility, or everyday people like me have come to this chapel. I have read that she had a tremendous heart. It is said that during lent she “went into the hall of the palace, she found it full of poor people, she washed their feet and served them herself.” Margaret was greater than her greatest work. Her achievements were great, but the selfless spirit in which she achieved them was greater still. As Cassian said, the height of perfection and blessedness lies in the purity of Love. For all things shall pass away and be destroyed but Love is to abide for ever.

So although St. Margaret’s Chapel is the smallest and oldest in the Castle Grounds I find it to be my favorite!

At the end of the tour, I arrived in St. Andrews Square just in time for the Nativity Scene Blessings and Choir Performance. People in the audience were all singing along and well so did I! It was fun!

Some of the Day's images . .

The Abbey at Holyroodhouse . . .

The Castle from within the grounds . . .

St. Margaret's Chapel . . .

Bagpipes performance . . .

Nativity Choir Performance . . .


  1. Sounds like a fabulous day exploring the Edinburgh Castle and its grounds. Loved reading about St. Margaret’s Chapel. I think I would have also been enchanted by the small stone chapel. Did you take any photos of the interior?

    How cool to see a bag pipe performance and the blessing of the Nativity scene. It all sounds wonderful.

  2. I'm so happy to hear that you loved St. Margaret's Chapel, too!
    Did you get to visit the Greyfrier's church yard?

  3. St. Margaret's Chapel sounds very special, and the Abbey looks both beautiful and a bit sinister (a perfect setting for a murder mystery!)

    Edinburgh Castle must have been extremely interesting -- if only to imagine all of the people, the great and the good, that have passed through there!

  4. I would love to see this place. I think St Margaret's chapel would be my favorite too. Love your photos!

  5. St. Margaret's Chapel looks so simple--it is the kind of Chapel I like. How wonderful that you got to see not only a Bagpipe performance, but a Nativity Choir Performance as well. It sounds like you had a full day!!!

  6. Beautiful! I love the story of the little chapel!

  7. I got goosebumps reading "St. Margaret’s Chapel seems still to weave the spell of her love and prayers", how beautiful.

    You lucked out finding the castle free and with fewer crowds, what a perfect combination! I love your photo of the Abbey, even in its state of semi-ruin it looks brooding and holy and amazing!

    My dad recently mentioned to my sister that we should all come over for Christmas next year, and maybe spend a week in Scotland as an extended family...that is sounding more and more appealing every post I read!

  8. Maria, Deborah, Sandra, Annie, Candi, Anne...

    Thanks so much for your comments. St. Margaret's chapel is very special. And it was nice to witness the blessing of the Nativity Scene, espcially since I was away for thanksgiving it was nice to be a part of a Holiday event while on the road.

    Maria, I couldn't take a photo of the inside of the chapel but it is just as simple on the inside as the out. Very small for just a handfull of people. there is a very pretty romanesque altar and her prayer book. I read that they still hold some ceremonies like weddings there. Can you imagine getting married in a little chapel like that on castle grounds. Wow!

    Anne, I hope that you do get to visit Scotland with your family. You all would really love it hear.

    Deborah I didn't get to the churchyard. But I did find the little statue.

  9. Sounds like you had another great day. I have really enjoyed learning more about Scotland through your trip. How cool to see the bagpipe performers. Was that the first group that you saw on your trip? I love the blue kilts!


It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.