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St Cuthbert's History
For much of its existence St Cuthberts was a country kirk, outwith
the city wall and in the county of Lothian and Tweeddale. In the reign of King
David I of Scotland (1124 - 1153), Edinburgh was clustered on the ridge which
runs eastwards from the Castle. All along the foot of the northern slope of the
Castle rock was a morass or marsh and from there northwards it was all
countryside until one came to Newhaven and Leith on the coast.
The Kirk below the Castle of Edinburgh has a claim to great, but imprecise,
antiquity. One theory about its origins is that St Cuthbert journeyed from
Melrose and stayed awhile in the sheltered hollow below the Castle rock.
Another view is that the Church came into being only fifty years before the
1127 Charter. Simeon of Durham, in 1130, wrote of a church in Edwins
Burgh in 854 but whilst some believe it was St Cuthberts others think St
King David I granted a Charter giving all the land below the Castle
to St Cuthberts. This is the oldest document in the Scottish Records
Office, Register House, Edinburgh.
Foundations laid for the Abbey of Holyrood. A few years later,
King David gave the Church and Parish of St Cuthbert to the new Abbey. St
Cuthberts parish was very extensive in the 12th century with considerable
revenues but the transfer to the Abbey meant a material lessening of status.
The new Augustinian Abbey employed vicars to care for the souls of the parish
but it also pocketed the surplus revenue!
Very little is known of the life of the Church during the Roman Catholic period
- the 12th to the mid-16th century - but an occasional reference to St
Cuthberts appears in Vatican documents.
16th March, St Cuthberts-under-the-Castle rededicated by
the Bishop of St Andrews.
An English Knight, St Giles de Argentine, fought and died at
Bannockburn. Sir Walter Scott would later describe in his "Tales of a
Grandfather" and "Lord of the Isles", how the Knights body
was brought to a quiet resting place "in Sanct Cuthbertis Kirk beside
Scottish Independence was restored after Robert the Bruce's defeat of the
Richard II led an army north and burned Holyrood and Edinburgh.
It is possible St Cuthberts was damaged or even destroyed at that time.
Large marshy area beside the Church used to form the Nor
If you are researching your family
history, or are interested in finding out more about the history
of St Cuthbert's Church or Parish, you can find information on available
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St Cuthbert's Parish Church. 5 Lothian Road.
Edinburgh. UK. EH1 2EP