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The Castle of Edinburgh

The following is from The Castle of Edinburgh by G. F. Maine:

The Ancient Postern

TO the west of the Armoury and the Governor's House, an interesting building which probably dates from the period of Queen Anne, is the ancient postern through which the children of Queen Margaret are said to have escaped when Donald Bane, "the fair-headed," the younger brother of Malcolm III, and his band of wild western Highlanders were battering at the gates on the east side in the hope of capturing young Edgar, the second son of Malcolm, and the other children. He had proclaimed himself king, and was apparently resolved to clear a path to the throne. Believing that egress from the fortress could only be had by the gates facing the city, he guarded them alone. The children thus escaped by the western postern, and tied to England, where they found refuge with their uncle, Edgar Atheling. Edgar subsequently proved himself a valorous prince, recovered the throne, and took up his residence in the Castle of Edinburgh, where he died on 8th January 1107. His demise is recorded in the register of the Priory of St. Andrews "Mortims in Dun-Edin, est sepulctus in Dunfermling."

Through the same postern, a few days later, the body of the saintly queen was smuggled and taken to Dunfermline Abbey. There is a legend that a miraculous mist arose from the sea and veiled the cortege from view of the insurgents, nor did it pass away until they had crossed in safety the Passagium Reginae or Queen's Ferry, nine miles distant, where Margaret had granted land for the maintenance of a passage boat a grant still in force. Such mists are familiar to the people of Edinburgh to this day, but they have become too prosaic to call them miraculous. A memorial tablet over the postern records that here also "Bonnie Dundee" held his conference with the Duke of Gordon when on his way to raise the Highland clans for King James, while the convention assembled in the Parliament Hall was arranging to settle the crown on William and Mary. From the postern gate are steps, behind the banquette of the bastions, to Mylnes Mount, where is a cradle for a bale-fire which could be seen from Fife and Stirling.

The Recapture of the Castle, 1341


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