Saturday, 6 September 2014

St Anthony's

Setting out for a walk around Holyrood Park and Arthur's Seat, we took a short detour to have a closer look at a ruinous building which we have hitherto only seen from a  distance.
Holyrood Park is a royal park which contains crags, lochs grassy slopes and some stunning views across the city. St Anthony's Chapel has an uncertain origin. It is thought that the land on which the chapel stands was once owned by Kelso Abbey, but exactly when it was built is not known. Despite the ownership of Kelso Abbey, it must have had close links to the nearby Holyrood Abbey just a few hundred yards away.
St Anthony's must have been built no later than the early 15th century as it is recorded that repairs to the chapel were paid for by the Pope in 1426.  We have some idea of what the chapel must have looked like when in decent repair from a description in Hugo Arnot's 'History of Edinburgh' of 1799 where he describes it as "A beautiful Gothic building, well suited to the rugged sublimity of the rock... At it's west end, there was a tower...about 40ft high. On the info board which accompanies the ruin, there is a handy, artist's impression...
Inside, the chapel would have been divided into three parts and there was probably a spiral stair in the tower.
Traces of a vaulted ceiling are still visible, as are the remains of what was thought to be a hermit's cell built into the rocks to the west of the chapel. It is now thought more likely that this 'cell' was a storehouse for the chapel. Whatever the history, one thing is clear, from such a vantage point, the attendees of this little chapel on the hill, would have had some wonderful views of the surrounding area. Here, looking towards Calton Hill and Holyrood Palace in the foreground...
... and here, looking over what is now St Margaret's Loch - although this was only constructed in 1856 by Prince Albert as part of his improvements to the park.
A beautiful place for a walk!
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