Holyrood Abbey and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh

As promised, I’m sharing more information on Holyrood Abbey and Holyroodhouse Palace in Edinburgh , which I visited during my brother Kevin’s visit to the UK.

The Holyrood Abbey, which was built in 1128, was the first building on the grounds that today house the ruined Abbey and the beautiful Holyroodhouse Palace. The foundation of this Abbey for the Augustinian Canons lies in a medieval legend in Edinburgh. While hunting in the Drumselch forest in the area in 1128, King David I of Scotland was thrown from his horse and almost mortally wounded by a stag; his life was spared as he had a vision of a cross that formed between the stag’s antlers. King David believed God had saved him, and in homage, he ordered the construction of the abbey on the location on which he had seen the stag. King David named the abbey and the palace Holy Rood, which means “Holy Cross”. A relic of the cross on which Jesus was crucified–which King David’s mother, Queen Margaret of Scotland (and St. Margaret of Scotland), had brought to Scotland–was stored in Holyrood Abbey until the 14th century.

(An interpretation of King David I’s spotting of the stag with a cross between its antlers near Arthur’s Seat.)

(Burgh Arms of the Canongate, symbolizing King David’s spotting of the stag with the cross between its antlers.)

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is on the same site as the Holyrood Abbey, is the official residence of the Monarch of the United Kingdom in Scotland. This site is a one mile walk or ride on the appropriately-named “Royal Mile” from the Edinburgh Castle. Many Scottish monarchs have resigned in the palace, but one of the most notable habitants was Mary Queen of Scots in the sixteenth century. During the tour of the palace with Kevin, I saw the apartments of Mary Queen of Scots, which was location of the murder on March 6, 156 of Mary’s private secretary, the Italian David Rizzio, by Mary’s husband, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley; David Rizzio was brutally stabbed fifty-six times to his death in Mary’s outchambers. This key event lead to Mary Queen of Scots’ forced abdication of the throne in 1567, which made her son the King of Scotland at the age of eleven years old. King James VI ruled as the King of Scotland until March 24, 1603, when he became King James I of England and Scotland through the union of the English and Scottish crowns.

(The forecourt of Holyrood Palace.)

(The oldest part of the building today, the north-west tower of Holyrood Palace, built between 1528 and 1532 for King James V.)


(The Royal Arms of Scotland.)

(Inner Courtyard of Holyroood Palace.)

(Scotland’s national symbol, the thistle.)


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