St Giles Cathedral
St Giles was an Archbishop canonised in the 7th century. He is said to have died when a huntsman's stray arrow hit him instead of a hind, whilst he was walking in woodland in what is now Edinburgh's Old Town. The name 'Holyrood' used for Edinburgh's Royal Palace, is thought to have arisen from the term 'Holy Wood' being used to describe where the saint died.
A small Norman church dedicated to St Giles, was located on the site of the Cathedral in the 1120s. The wall of the Eloi's Aisle has fragments of this church built into it. Visitors can see a scalloped capital there, and a carved face is located near the shop doorway.
At some point a larger and more elaborate replacement was built, and by 1385 additional chapels and altars were being added.
The present day Cathedral has incorporated some of the features of this early church. There are parts of tombs, heraldic carvings, and religious carvings. Some of the 15th century carvings can be seen in the Albany Aisle.
In 1635, having survived the Scottish Reformation St Giles' was made a Cathedral, and it contained over fifty altars and boasted a crown-shaped spire.
A recent addition to the Cathedral is the Thistle Chapel, completed in 1911. It was built to be used by the Knights of the Thistle, and is colourfully decorated in a Gothic style.
The famed Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones designed a window for the Cathedral. The upper section depicts the crossing of Jordan, with figures from the Old Testament below. The window was produced in the workshops of Victorian designer William Morris.
The Cathedral has a cafe below ground level and a gift shop. Free guided tours are available, but book in advance as they are not scheduled.
Situated on the pedestrianised Royal Mile in Edinburgh, parking is often difficult. It is recommended that visitors use the local train links (Waverley Station is close by) and the numerous bus services. Contact the Cathedral for up to date travel information.
St Giles' Cathedral