Originally an adjunct of Holyrood Abbey, itself founded in 1128 by David I after the king had been saved from a 'muckle hart' by the miraculous appearance of a crucifix, Canongate actually remained for a long time a separate entity from Edinburgh. ...
This is the first book to trace the complete history of the Abbey of Holyrood and its burgh of Canongate from prehistoric times to the present day, and underlines the mixed fortunes that have characterised this part of Edinburgh. Both the abbey and the burgh were built on a narrow strip of land wedged between boggy ground. This geology and geography would impact on the lives of the people from the outset until today. By the early sixteenth century part of the abbey complex had been converted into a royal palace, and by 1600 a court precinct also existed, extending into what is now the site of Scotland's new parliament. However, with the departure of James VI when he inherited the English throne, and the subsequent Union of Parliaments in 1707, the area's fortunes declined, leading Allan Ramsay to write: 'O Canningate! Pooer elritch hole!/What loss, what crosses does thou thole!' This book is the story of the people above, those who lived in elegant mansions, including Queensberry House, now part of the parliament complex. But it is also the story of the people below, who lived in conditions which were the worst in Scotland. By 1900 Canongate was a vast industrial zone, dominated by breweries, glassworks and gas works. Many of its inhabitants would be relocated in the twentieth century, and not always willingly. By the end of the century a decision was made to house Scotland's new parliament in Canongate. A historic site had been chosen. But with the completion of Enric Miralles' award-winning building and the Parliament now in session, Patricia Dennison is led to finish her perceptive and informative study by pondering how all this will impact on the old burgh as it faces the twenty-first century.
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Date of publication: 25/10/2005
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