The Royal Mile including St’ Giles Cathedral

St. Giles’ Cathedral

Between Edinburgh Castle and The Palace of Holyrood House on the Royal Mile stand the Cathedral of St. Giles’, this Cathedral is also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, the Chapel within St. Giles’ is The order of the Thistle and is the Presbyterian Mother Church.

The Origins of St. Giles’

This Cathedral was founded by one of two people in 1124, it was either King Alexander I or his brother King David I, both sons of King Malcolm Canmore, St. Giles’ was built from the existing parish at the point which was St. Cuthbert’s Church.

St. Giles himself was Greek and was a hermit that lived in the forests in France near Nimes, his only companion was a tame deer, the King of the Visigoths shot at the deer one day while out hunting and Giles stopped the arrow with his own hand, the King was impressed by this and returned to talk to the Holy man many times before asking him to be the Abbot of a monastery, St. Giles is the Patron Saint of Lepers, nursing mothers and the lame.


The four central pillars are the oldest part of the building said to date back to 1124, there was a fire that a building suffered in 1385 and was rebuilt over the next few years from then, a lot of the interior of the chapel is dated to this period, in the following years they started to add aisles to churches and St. Giles’ also added them making it a very large Church and very irregular looking.

In 1466 St. Giles church was established by Pope Paul II, there was statues added to St. Giles’ and in 1490 lantern towers where added to the chapel, the ceiling was also raised at the same time, vaults and clerestory had also been installed, in the middle of the 16th Century there was about 50 side alters in the Chapel dedicated to their many Patron Saints.


Reverend Calum MacLeod was given Minister of St. Giles’ in 2014 and was elected by congregation, Reverend Calum was formally inducted into St. Giles’ by the Presbytery in October 2014, Reverend Dr Gilleasbuig MacMillan was the previous Minister of St. Giles’ who was inducted in 1973 and retired in 2013.

Notable People

There has been many notable Scottish people that have had weddings and funerals in St. Giles’:

  • Pioneering scientist Bella MacCallum.
  • Sports scientist Paul Mackenzie.
  • Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy.

All the above got married in the Cathedral, the notable funerals where:

  • Pioneering physician and suffragist Elsie Inglis.
  • Politician Robin Cook.
  • Politician Douglas Henderson.
  • Writer and literary agent Giles Gordon.

If you would like to know more about St. Giles’ try the Wiki’_Cathedral or if you would like to try one of our tours that will take you to St. Giles’ and other sites in Edinburgh come to our tours page

To find out more about the attractions and places to see we have created a list to help you decide on some the best that Edinburgh has to offer Edinburgh Tourist Attractions.

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