Lesser Known Edinburgh [Montrose Aisle, St Giles Cathedral]

The Montrose Aisle contains a monument erected by the Clan Graham to the memory of the great Marquis of Montrose. The design is seventeenth century Renaissance style, and shows a sarcophagus with black marble bier, having on it the recumbent figure of the great Marquis in white Carrara marble. On the night before his execution he scratched on the glass window of his prison with his diamond ring these words:

“Scatter my ashes, strew them in the air.
Lord since Thou knowest where all these atoms are,
I’m hopeful Thou’lt recover once my dust.
And confident Thou’lt raise me with the just.”

He was executed at Edinburgh in 1650. His head was stuck on the spike on the top of the Tolbooth (which stood just outside the Cathedral door), and his limbs were sen–one each to Glasgow, Perth, St. Andrews, and Aberdeen–and were exposed for eleven years, till in 1661 they were collected and buried here.

“For truth and right, ‘g-ainst treason’s might, this hand hath always striven, And ye raise it up for a witness still, in the eye of earth and heaven. Then nail my head on yonder tower—give every town a limb. And God, who made, shall gather them: I go from you to Him!”
“Execution of Montrose.”—Aytoiin.

In this aisle is a tablet to Walter Chepman, the Scottish Caxton, who introduced printing into Scotland in 1507.

Picturesque Edinburgh; Katherine F. Locke; pg. 43

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