Day 6, Above Left: We're inside St Gile's church in Edinburgh on the golden mile. This is the church that was attended by the nobel families, over a long period of time (centuries). We're looking at the Pipe Organ.
Above Right: We are used to seeing stained glass windows that depict religious scenes, and this church has many, but in this case this stained glass window depicts the many coat of arms of the regular attendees.
Right: First of all, this is a composite photograph that was re-created because there is no way to enter the little Royal Chapel Room and have enough space to capture all of the grandeur in a single photo. What we are trying to demonstrate here is that the private pew seats of these knights, marques, earls, dukes, and kings are rather throne looking. The seats are made of exquisite materials and craftsmanship and they extend above the head of a seated person for at least another eight feet. Each seat has special custom made representation figure at the very top. Also the seats bear various family crests on the seat backs.
Below Center: By law, only things of a royal nature or ownership may have an architectural crown built onto the roof. This is the crown over the church of St Gile's and think that this may be the only architectural roofed crown in Edinburgh. We will see later that the home of the Stuart's (Castle Stuart) has a royal crown also.
Above Left: The Southsider Tavern. We picked it for it convenience and dropped in for Dinner and a Drink
Above Right: We're trying new foods (to us) at the Southsider Tavern along with a local dark ale. Yum!
Day 7: Today's agenda is to see Rosslyn Chapel and the Edinburgh botanical Garden.
Above Left: We did not know or realize that the Rosslyn Chapel was in Scotland, just outside of Edinburgh. We just happened to see it on a sign post map while we were biking and filled in our open day. Rosslyn Chapel is inside the town of Roslin which is also in the vicinity of Rosewell. The name Rose comes up a lot in this area. Roslin and Rosslyn are word variants of "Rose-Line." Pictured is the signage just before the Chapel's entry drive.
Dennis is here because Dan Brown's best selling book called the DaVinci Code sparked an interest. Dennis rode a double decker bus in and will ride one out. Its Dennis's first Double Decker bus ride ever. There just happens to be a guided tour so Dennis jumped in with the others.
Above Right: The rest of this is as I understand the tour guide, who is a church volunteer (and not a church historian or official). There used to be about 6,000 visitors a year. Now there are 30,000 visitors a month. Its all run by donation, and donations are up so much that a major and long need overhaul has been started. The entire church is underneath a large metal construction roof with scaffolding all around the church. Only the western end of the church is unencumbered, view wise. Pictured is the West Entrance (looking eastward, scaffolding or construction cover can be seen in both of the upper corners of the photo).
Above Left: Extremely ornate stone carving. The church started as a Catholic Church on the estate of the Earl of St Clair [because everyone pretty much had to be Roman Catholic then]. Then when the kingdom changed to the Church of England, the church was sacked and pretty much all of its contents were gutted. Meaning everything in there now is a replacement. The original church was left in ruins for centuries and it has only been relatively recently refurbished.
Me: OK, what about the Meridian Line thing or the Rose Line?
A: There is no physical indication of a line of any kind in the church, with the exception of the carved "line-of-life" line which [is about five inches wide and] winds its way around the church walls. Yes, a Prime Meridian was actually discussed at one time but never formalized. [BTW: The line of life, like a grape vine, is more of a pagan vine of life that starts on the West end of the North wall and winds its way to the East alter wall and symmetrically ends on the South wall. There are many pagan symbols in the church, the least of which is Green Man. Green man, as I understand, was the Gaelic creator of life, Green as in agricultural growing, Green Thumb, Green Man, creator of life. Green Man is a well documented figure - see the next slide]
Me: What about the Star of David?
A: I am told by church officials that there are some around, but I have never seen one and I don't know where any are located.
Me: What about sacred or secret texts being buried underneath here?
A: Well, most of the church records have been destroyed over time but we do have documentation that some Knights are buried beneath the church. There is a basement and possibly a subbasement. We can access the basement and there is nothing there in the sense of Dan Brown's description. HOWEVER, there is a suspected subbasement, where the Knights are thought to be physically buried or entombed, but we have no idea where the entrance is, if it does exist.
Me: So Dan Brown may have taken some liberties.
A: It appears that way.
Me: What about doing further investigation into what is or maybe buried underneath the church.
A: The Church elders/estate do not want to go digging around and they do not want to know what is down there. [The guide is implying more of a sense of fear about literal skeletons in the closet rather than a fear of anything else.]
Me: What about the Knights Templar?
A: The widow, Madame St Clair, did marry one of the founders of the Knights Templar.
Above Right:Green Man, classically with the vines of life coming out of his mouth.
Art and Murder!
When Sir William St Clair (third and last St Clair Prince of Orkney) commissioned the original church, the Stone Carving Master stated that he felt that he did not have adequate experience to carve the important Altar Columns. So the Duke sent the carver to Italy for further training and education. No one had heard from the Master Mason for years so he was presumed dead or no longer interested in the church project.
The Stone Mason's Apprentice came to work one day stating that he had a dream for how to carve the columns. He was granted permission to start with one column. Then the Master Mason returned. The time line is a little fuzzy. The Master Mason discovered what the Apprentice did and got so upset that he killed the Apprentice. The Master Mason carved what he was inspired to do after years of Italian training.
There are a few variations of the story but a murder by the Master Mason of an Apprentice is still the main theme.
By The Way: the life line can be seen just a little lower
than even with the lamp in both of the above images.
Above Left: The Apprentice Mason's Column (left as you face the altar).
Above Right: The Master Mason's Column (right as you face the altar).
Above Left: Custom made for foreigners like us (who look to the left first before crossing a street).
Above Right: The cleverly flowered stainless steel entrance gate for the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh, AKA The National Botanical Gardens of Scotland.
Above Left: St Andrew's cross in flowers.
Above Right: St Andrew's cross in pine cones. This is the interior roof of a gazebo.
Above Left: Yours truly, Dennis & Terry.
Above Right: Swan in Botanic Garden's pond.
Above Left: Skink, Yum! Dennis & Terry at Edinburgh New Bell
Above Right: Edinburgh's New Bell Restaurant front and Entrance. We stumbled in, through the Old Bell Tavern.
The BIG ERROR:
After having been in the Botanic Garden ALL Afternoon, Dennis, who takes Allergy Medication twice daily in the late summer, will forget to take his meds before turning in for the night. The cost will be that it will take all of the day light hours in Day 8 to get a handle on the breathing and facial swelling issues.
Day 8: The Big Event for the Day is to attend the Conference
Dinner at the Roayal Museum of Scotland.
Above Left: At the door entrance is a Scottish Piper in formal dinner attire. We have learned, in Scotland, when something is announced to be at a certain time, it does not matter if you are one hour early or one minute early, the doors will open on the second's tic for the announced or published start/opening time.
Above Right: A view of the dinner tables and some museum displays.
Above Left: Our Dinner Table, Appetizer, and Early Guests. It was kind of cool, everyone was from different countries.
Above Right: Celtic Song and Music.
Above Left: Dinner. Also notice the "Wee Dram of Whisky" (in Scotland, the Scots don't call it Scotch, they call it "Whisky," also without the letter "e"). In the interest of keeping friendly international relations, Dennis drank Terry's whisky too! It was a Body Warming experience! Dennis notes that a Dram is more than a Shot!
Above Right: Dance. The Master of Ceremonies, center, was very good at teaching some rather complex steps. The steps, however, were similar to square dancing and singing (step calling). We did dance and we had a good time (hard to dance and take pictures).
Day 9: Today, we ready for tomorrow's travels, eat dinner at the Witchery Restaurant and then attend a late night Edinburgh Pubs Tour.
Above Left: The Witchery Restaurant (almost the first right after departing Edinburgh Castle on the Golden Mile).
Above Right: Dennis and Terry in front of a beautiful pastoral tapestry in the main dining area of the Witchery.
Above Left: Desert at the Witchery. Yet more sacrifices in the name of good international relations. We leave clean plates too.
Above Right: The Beehive Inn on Grass Market. Our meeting place for the Pubs tour.
Above Left: Our Pubs Tour Gang.
Above Right: The two Pub Tour Leaders on the right (both actors by trade). Short guy presents information about famous authors and politics from the layman's perspective and is deliberately crude at times but expressing honest feelings for the relative era. Tall guy is the point counterpoint guy, who recites Shakespeare, Stevenson, Burns, an MacDiarmid and takes a more scholarly and longer term view of life and its positive changes.
The tour guides conducted a verbal test and review at the end of the tour. Terry and I did quite well, but mostly because we had been immersed into all things Scotland for at least a week.
Day 10, Agenda: Pickup the "Hire Car" in town, check out of our B&B, then visit the Linlithgow Palace, the Trossachs & the Rob Roy Museum in the Highlands, the Scottish Wool Centre and the following coastal towns of Culross, Pittenweem, and Anstruther.
Above Left: We made arrangements, months ago, to rent a VW Pasat, but the Hire Car Company was out of VWs so they stuck us with this car. Bummer huh?
Above Right: Linlithgow Palace in Linlithgow, Scotland, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots.
Above Left: At Linlithgow Palace castle, we found these kids of a school class both playing a game like Mother-May-I and learning about courtly life. The boy in costume is teaching the game. The Boy in the Hood is playing a royal persona. The boy bowing has to approach the royal persona and retreat while keeping his eyes on the only on the royal persona.
In this case, the bowing boy looked down while backing up and had to go to the dungeon (the room next door). Meanwhile, Terry and I walked all the way around the castle and came back to discover about six more kids in the Dungeon Room. Just as we came in, the kids in the dungeon were asked to scream like they were being tortured. We walked back into the Great Hall and the game surviving kids in the Great Hall were wondering what happened in the Dungeon.
It was nice to see kids having fun and learning at the same time.
Above Right: This bird looks like a version of our American Golden Eagle. In any case, we are in the process of walking up to the Scottish Wool Centre at Aberfoyle entrance and a Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Center had some birds on display just outside of the entrance and was soliciting donations for the Rehab Center.
Above Left: Lots of wool products and Scottish products like Short Bread and Buscuites. Behind me is the really good wool clothing from Cardigan or Cashmere Sweaters to Wool Suits (Men and Women's).
Above Right: The picture almost looks like a mannequin at a wool spinner, but this is a real person who is demonstrating the yarn making process. She is a member of the "Aberfoyle Spinners" and described how hard it is to search for Spinners on the Internet and find wool spinning rather than an exercise bike spinning.
Above Left: Sheep Dog Show - The dog trainer told us, that since the movie about "Babe" the pig, there are about five pig entries per year for Sheep Dog Contests across Scotland.
Above Right: A farmer had killed a fox that had been terrorizing his animals and later discovered that the fox had a pup. Caring but not knowing what to do with the pup, the farmer offered the pup to another man who trained sheep dogs. The fox grew up with sheep dogs and was a constant companion of the dogs. Pictured, is a picture of a picture taken of the now grown fox, playing with one of the sheep dogs.
Above Left: In the time of Rob Roy MacGregor (of the Gregor Clan), the cattlemen were often either rustling cattle on the side or working for a cattle owner. The Rob Roy movie did have the major events correct, but glossed over the fact that Rob Roy probably rustled cattle on a few occasions.
Its noteworthy that Mac (or Mc) is Gaelic for "child of," so MacGregor, McGregor, and Gregor are forms of the same Clan Name.
Above Right: The Culross Tron. The Tron was weighing system that used a horizontal wood post and two basket like pans. The Tron's purpose was both to determine the weight of merchandise or goods for fair trade and for taxation. Pictured behind the Tron is the Town House which was built in 1625 with an architecture of strong Flemish influence. If we understand correctly, the Town House was originally the merchant quarters of Sir George Bruce who also was the owner (or major stake holder) of the open pit ocean coal mine operation.
Culross was a Royal Burgh in the 16th and 17th centuries. Being a Royal Burgh, the town had representation in the Scottish Parliament and could appoint its own Magistrates for self governing and policing. Culross was a wealthy community that had a port, shipping trade, coal mining, and salt panning. In fact, they had the worlds first open pit ocean mining operation for coal [about 600 yard seaward into the Firth of Forth]. The wealth of the area started to end in 1625 when a great storm flooded the open mine pit and destroyed the banks of the artificial island used to support mine draining system.
Above Left: The view south across the Firth of Forth to what is probably Edinburgh or near.
Above Right: Ships Inn, where we had dinner and a drink!
Above Left: Smugglers Inn of Anstruther, Scotland. Our home for the night.