We drew nearer with every step and my astonishment only grew. Great carvings adorned the building. Life sized faces and bodies lined the edges and caught the light enough to show the very expression on each hand carved face. I could barely speak.
Inside were signs saying that photography was allowed, but donations were appreciated. We took note of that as we wandered past snapping pictures everywhere we went. There were ancient flags hanging from the walls and stunning stained glass windows on nearly every surface. The walls and ceilings were painted and hand carved to be even more stunning than the outside. I knew as I took the photos that no picture could ever do justice to the incredible surroundings I was faced with. Nothing I had ever seen could compare to the grandeur of this phenominal place.
A few smaller rooms branched off of the main chamber, and ever eager to explore, both of us wandered from one to the next. We had seen almost every corner and every wall when we saw some people coming out of a closed door. It had previously looked as though that area was off limits to tourists, but surprisingly it was wide open. The door was just kept shut for reasons unknown to us. Curious about the last room in St. Giles Cathedral, we wandered over. Robert held the door open for me and I drew in a sharp breath. The hand carved wood stood three times the height of a man and covered every edge on every wall. I walked in, Camera at the ready.
Robert followed me into small room and instantly slowed, as I had when I saw the nose on the wall. He looked nearly straight up, marveling at the intricate wood work. Hand carved seats that almost looked like a row of thrones lined three of the four walls in the room, each with its own coat of arms where a person's back would line up. Each had its own sword replica; it's own intricate character at the top of the carving. All of the characters and coat of arms were hand painted, the swords guilded in gold. My camera couldn't capture the room from floor to ceiling, no matter where I stood or how I tried.
"This is an important place," Robert said to me, as he stood looking at the largest chair in the room. A reverse version of the Royal Coat of Arms was positioned in front of the largest chair. The hair on his arms stood up for the second time that day. "This is an important place," he repeated. "There's something special about this place but I don't know what it is."
There was so much to see and take photos of in the room that we were left pretty much alone for a long time. Finally a few other people came in, followed by an older woman. She turned out to be a tour guide for St. Giles Cathedral and she did much more than confirm Robert's suspicions. It truly was an important room.
St. Giles Cathedral, it turned out, was the High Church of Edinburgh, the Mother Church of Presbyterianism, and most importantly, contains the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle. Twice a year the Knights of Scotland, headed by the Queen, would meet at this special Chapel of the Order of the Thistle - and we were standing in that private chapel at that exact moment. We were standing where the Queen herself came twice a year to meet with the Knights of Scotland. Each coat of arms stood for the family heratige of each Knight. The reverse Royal Coat of Arms was to honor the Queen of Scotland, who also hapened to be the Queen of England. On the Scotish version of the Royal Coat of Arms, things are reversed because the Unicorn that stood for Scotland was on the left and the lion of the English was on the right in order to put Scotland first. It was a huge sign of respect from what we could understand and we both stood in amazement. We studdied the room for nearly an hour.
Overwhelmed with the knowledge that had suddenly been dumped into our heads, we decided to move on finally. Next stop: another drink.
To read more about St. Giles Cathedral, click here.
TO BE CONTINUED...