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Dunnett Related Places to Visit
Edinburgh and the Surrounding Area
Perched high on its rock overlooking the city, the castle must be
one of the most photographed buildings in the world. There has been
a fortification on the site certainly as far back as Roman times and
probably earlier. The oldest part of the castle still in evidence
is the beautifully simple St. Margaret's Chapel which dates from the
The Honours consist of the Sceptre, which was sent to James IV by Pope Alexander VI in the 1490s, the Sword, given to James IV by Pope Julius II in 1507 and the Crown. The Crown was remade from the earlier one in 1540.
Mons Meg is a muzzle-loaded bombard which weighs over 6 tons and fired stones weighing over 150kg a distance of nearly 3km, but could only be fired about 8 times a day because of the enormous amount of heat generated.
Princes Street Gardens
Ok, so you're wondering what this has to do with Dunnett - well these beautiful gardens are the site of the Nor Loch, where the attempt on Gelis' life is made while it is frozen over, and which Lymond swims across at the beginning of Game of Kings on his way to meet Mungo's Pig!
The Nor Loch was actually man made - which would probably surprise
many Edinburgh folk, who, if they haven't read the history, probably
assume it was natural and was later drained. It was created as an
extra defence by James II using a natural spring situated at the base
of the Castle Rock. Considering that the hollow where it was formed
was carved out by glacial action it's perhaps surprising that it hadn't
formed naturally, especially as the spring proved to be very plentiful
and allowed the planners to change their ideas from a simple moat
to a fully fledged loch, controlled by a dam and a sluicegate. The
well and the tower which surrounded it are still there today.
For a while the loch was an attractive feature which was much admired
but it inevitably became overgrown and filled up with rubbish (and
worse) from the city, until it eventually became a health hazard.
It was reduced in size by drainage for the construction of the North
Bridge and then divided in two by the Mound which was constructed
(to connect the Old Town with the New Town which was built in 1767)
from earth and rubbish produced when new streets were excavated in
the town. Eventually it was drained completely and the gardens were
gradually developed. They have survived several ludicrous proposals
for car parks and buildings, although they did succumb to the mania
for railways when the original Edinburgh and Glasgow railway was pushed
through close to the castle rock to terminate at Waverley Station.
Thankfully a local law was passed which prevents any building construction
on the south side of Princes Street which would of course destroy
the finest city centre view in Europe.
Scene of the dramatic confrontation and swordfight between Lymond
and Graham Reid Mallett at the end of Disorderly Knights. There
has been a church on the site since 854, the four central pillars
dating from around 1120. The massive crown steeple dates from 1495,
though the present form of the building is much more recent at 1829.
Having been changed so much over the years the layout is not the same
as it was in Lymond's time, so you cannot exactly match the scenes
described to the current floor plan. The Lauder Aisle (where Lymond
takes his vow) is to the right as you enter the kirk, but the area
is now panelled off, while straight ahead is the main altar. St Giles
was a Greek hermit who was the patron saint of beggars and criminals!!
These old passageways and wynds are fascinating and contain a great
deal of history. Unfortunately, of the closes mentioned in the Chronicles,
Gosford Close no longer exists and Bruce's Close was
absorbed into Warriston Close.
Gladstone's Land in the Lawnmarket is well worth a visit to get a feel for life in Lymond's time as it has been restored as closely as possible to its original condition and is run as a museum by the National Trust for Scotland. A narrow six storey building, it was built in 1550 and extended in 1620 and contains original painted ceilings and walls and is furnished in contemporary style.
There are many more interesting nooks and crannies to be found for those interested in more general history, and plenty of guides - both human and printed - to their stories.
Not really mentioned much in the books but a major attraction and
so closely connected to the Scottish crown and Mary that it's not
to be missed. Situated at the bottom of the Royal Mile at the edge
of Holyrood Park, it was started by James IV in 1501 and is today
the official residence of the Queen.
Outskirts and Environs
Situated at the eastern edge of the city, Craigmillar is featured on the cover of Gemini and was the scene of the divining commanded by James III. For anyone who has seen the promotional pictures for Dorothy's 1997 US tour, this was where the photographs were taken. John of Mar was imprisoned there in 1480 and Mary Queen of Scots stayed there for a time after the murder of Rizzio in 1566 and it is believed that the conspiracy to murder Darnley was formulated at that time.
the village of Roslin on the southern side of Edinburgh hides an amazing
piece of church architecture and stone decoration. The chapel is closely
connected with both the Knights Templar and the Knights of St. John
and is the centre of much speculation as to what may be hidden in
its vaults. Some of the more outlandish say that the Holy Grail was
concealed there while other stories include a "lost Gospel" rescued
from Jerusalem, and various suggestions have been made to open the
sealed sections to search for them. Other even wilder suggestions
put it at the centre of powerful spiritual forces indicating a gateway
to another world.
Just down the hill from the Chapel sits Rosslyn Castle which was the home of Nowie Sinclair in Gemini. It is situated over the lip of Rosslyn Glen and the bridge which leads down to it takes you to the top of it rather than the bottom as would be the case in most castles - an arrangement which makes it difficult to photograph effectively. It was partly destroyed in 1544 by the English army and was largely derelict until 1982 when parts of the mostly 16th-17th century East range were conserved, along with some 17th century paneling, and this section is now once again being lived in. There are a number of paths and walks through the pretty glen which holds the base of the castle.
This site is designed, written, and maintained by Bill Marshall.
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