St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh
St Giles Cathedral is situated in Edinburgh
centre, a short walk down the Royal Mile from Edinburgh
St Giles, now also known as High Kirk of
Edinburgh, was founded in the 1130s, but little
of that early building remains. Most of what
can be seen today is from work carried in the
1400s, 1800s and 1900s.
1100s, King David I began the building of
Edinburgh Castle, and funded the building of
Holyrood Abbey 1 mile north, with the
road connecting the two being known as the
David I also funded the original St Giles
Church built between the Castle and Abbey. This
church was extended into an impressive
Cathedral over the following centuries.
St Giles is now not an actual Cathedral, as
it is no longer the seat of a Bishop. Bishops
only served in Scottish Churches for periods in
the 1600s, as Scots rulers preferred their
Churches run by Elders.
This led to the Bishops Wars, that in turn
led to Civil Wars.
St Giles now serves as the top Church of
Scotland / Protestant.
Cathedral completed in 1814, on York Place
in Edinburgh, serves as the top Catholic Church
The impressive St Mary's Cathedral completed in
1917, on Palmerston Place in Edinburgh, serves
as the top Episcopal Church / Protestant, seat
of the Bishop of Edinburgh.
The image right is of the bell from the
39,000 ton battleship HMS Howe from
the 1940s. This warship saw action in WWII in
Europe, then later in the Far East. HMS Howe
was scrapped at Inverkeithing in 1958, with its
bell being donated to St Giles Cathedral to
serve as a memorial to all who died in the
The image bottom is of a statue of John Knox (1513
– 1572) in St Giles, a Scottish minister and
writer who was the leader of the Reformation in
Scotland, a time when the Catholic religion,
centered on the Pope in Rome, was abolished in
Scotland and England.
St Giles Cathedral History
1100s - King David I begins the Building of
1100s - David I funds the building of
Holyrood Abbey one mile north of Edinburgh
Castle. The road connecting the the Castle and
Palace become known as the Royal Mile.
1100s - David I funds the building St Giles
Church on the Royal Mile between the Castle and
At this time, Christian Catholicism,
centered on the Pope in Rome, is the main
religion in Scotland, England, Wales, and
1385 - English troops of King Richard II
attacked Edinburgh and set fire to St Giles.
The church is repaired and enlarged soon
1466 - St Giles is raised to a Collegiate
1490 - the notable lantern tower is
1500s - many countries throughout Europe
begin pushing to have the Christian Catholic
religion, centered on the Pope in Rome,
replaced by Christian Protestantism, with the
head of these churches being the countries
1534 - King Henry VIII of England becomes
Supreme Head of the Church of England under
1560 - John Knox is credited with being the
founder of the Church of Scotland under
Presbyterian Protestantism, with the head of
these churches being Scottish Elders.
The Catholic Religion becomes illegal in
Scotland and England at this time.
1581 - St Giles interior is divided into
sections as Protestantism begins to split into
1603 - King James VI Stuart of Scotland
becomes king of England as well, uniting the
The Stuart Kings live in England from this
time and want more control over the Scottish
Churches, which in turn gives more control over
the Scottish people.
1634 - King Charles I coronation in Scotland
led to William Forbes being consecrated in St
Giles as the first Bishop of Edinburgh. St
Giles then has the status of a Cathedral.
1638 - Scottish law makers deposed all
Bishops in Scotland, leading to Scots churches
being run as Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
St Giles looses its status of a Cathedral as it
is then run by Elders, upsetting the
1639 - Scotland deposing the Bishops led to
the Bishops Wars,
Covenanters Wars, Wars of the Three Nations,
and English Civil War.
1661 - the end of the English Civil war
leads to Charles II being restored as King. His
strong stance on religion leads to St Giles
again becoming a Cathedral with a Bishop.
1688 - William of Orange overthrows King
James II of England /James VII of Scotland,
leading to the Scots demanding a free Scottish
1689 - The Parliament of Scotland abolishes
Bishops, leading to St Giles once again
becoming a Presbyterian Church of Scotland run
by Elders. St Giles looses its status as a
1707 - the merger of Scotland and England
into Great Britain, led to some Scots building
Episcopal Protestant Churches run by a Bishop.
These churches are run similar to Church of
England Churches and Cathedrals.
1791 - The Roman Catholic Relief Act allows
Roman Catholic Churches and Cathedrals to be
1814 - St Mary's Catholic Cathedral is
completed on York Place in Edinburgh to serve
as the top Catholic Church in Scotland.
1897 - St Mary's Episcopal Protestant
Cathedral is completed on Palmerston Place in
Edinburgh to serve as the top Episcopal Church
1911 - a small ornate Chapel for the Knights
of the Thistle was added to St Giles.
1992 - a large organ with 4,000 pipes is
installed in St Giles.
See also Scotland Cathedrals for more