The earliest traces of settlement in Edinburgh can be traced back to around 5000 BC when stone age hunters occupied the area. 2000 years later Beaker people arrived from central Europe, so named as they buried their dead with pottery items. Little is known of them but they had the ability to work with gold bronze and copper. During the bronze age the population of the area increased and forts were established on Arthur's Seat, Craiglockhart hill and Blackford hill. There was presumably also a fort on Castle hill but no evidence remains of this.
Roman Statue Found At Cramond
In 78 AD the Romans arrived. A fort at Cramond, remains of which can still be seen today, was built around 142AD to serve the Antonine Wall but was rebuilt in 209AD as a port during Emperor Severus' campaign against the tribes of the north. A tribe of Britons called Gododdin (known to the Romans as Votadini) who lived in the area became allies of the Romans in what seems to be a mutually beneficial partnership.The Romans didn't stay long and had left by mid second century.
The land of Gododdin stretched from the Stirling area down to the Tyne. The people were Britons and the language they used was a Brythonic language, an early form of Welsh. The Gododdin had a main fort on Castle rock and called the settlement Din Eidyn (Fort of Eidyn) but they also had another main fort on Trappain Law in East Lothian. In the early 600's AD King Mynyddog of Din Eidyn (details of him are sketchy - it is possible he was a myth) lead a large party of men down to what seems to be Catterick in Yorkshire to fight the Angles, invaders from what is now Schleswig-Holstein in North Germany. The army of Gododdin was as large as 24000 and consisted of men from Ayrshire, Elmet in Yorkshire, Gwynedd in North Wales and also Picts. But despite massive preparations, feasting and drinking Mead in the halls of Din Eidyn, they were defeated almost to a man.
The Angle Stone
In 638AD the Angles of Northumbria lead by King Oswald invaded the Din Eidyn area and it became the northernmost part of the Kingdom of Northumbria. The defeat of King Mynyddog Mwynfawr - Mynyddog the wealthy- was recorded in a poem called Y Gododdin and is the earliest Welsh poem in existence. The Angles brought their Germanic language to the area which mixed with the Brythonic language and eventually (by 1200s AD) became Scots. The name Edinburgh appears to come from the Brythonic Eidyn and the Anglian Burh combining Celtic and German roots. The Angles remained until around 954AD when they abandoned Edinburgh due to the advancing Scots lead by King Indulf. It was lost again to the Northumbrians/English around 990AD but was recaptured by King Malcolm II in 1018 and so Lothian became part of the new Scottish kingdom.
King Malcolm II (1005 - 1034) was the first king of Scotland to reign over an area roughly the same as Scotland today but Edinburgh was not the Capital City until 1437. Dunfermline had its time as capital and the early kings were crowned at Scone Palace near Perth.
The first documented evidence of a town outside the Castle is contained in a charter granted by King David I to the abbey of Holyrood dated around 1145. Several references are made to the Burgh of Edinburgh which indicates that it was a royal burgh and had been for some time. King David I was the son of King Malcolm III and Queen Margaret for whom the chapel at Edinburgh Castle was built and is Edinburgh's oldest building. At this time there were not many buildings, just some on the site of the present Castlehill. They would have been made out of wood as indeed they were in the following centuries.
St Margaret's Chapel
In 1296 King Edward I of England invaded Scotland. He seized Edinburgh Castle and so began more than two centuries of conflict. In 1314 the castle was won back for King Robert I( the Bruce) and he ordered the Castle to be dismantled to avoid any repeat but the English recaptured it in 1335 and rebuilt it. The Scots won it back again a few years later but in 1342 the town was described as totally wasted. However, life in Edinburgh continued to progress throughout all these difficulties and also to expand. A new street -The Cowgate - was developed and became Edinburgh's first suburb and a place for the rich and well to do.
With the threat of invasion never far away King James II ordered a town wall to be built in 1450. It took many years to complete and was the first of 3 to be built before 1636. But as the 1400s entered it's final years Scotland basked in peace and prosperity under King James IV. These peaceful times reached a peak in 1503 when the King married Margaret Tudor, daughter of England's King Henry VII. It was during these optomistic times that King James decided to build a palace at Holyrood next to the Abbey as the Castle was "richt unpleasand". There were several other improvements to the city as the King was interested in the arts and education. The peaceful times came to an end when in support of France, King James led an army to defeat at the battle of Flodden in 1513 - The King was dead.
Renewed fear prompted the city to build another wall around the city, this time taking in a much larger area including the Cowgate and Grassmarket. The Flodden wall was begun in 1514 but once the initial threat of English invasion came to nothing, the wall was still incomplete by 1560. The wall later proved to be ineffective but it had one consequence to the city - with an expanding population and nowhere to expand, the city could only build in one direction - upwards. Edinburgh can be credited as having the world's first skyscrapers, some buildings reached 13 storeys, with the poor living in the top and bottom and the rich in the middle. In 1542 Scotland had an infant queen on the throne - Mary Queen of Scots. A treaty was entered into with the English that at the end of her tenth year she would marry the Prince of Wales. When the Scots revoked this treaty and entered into another alliance with the French, King Henry VIII was furious and sent and army to sack Edinburgh. Although the castle was defended, the rest of the city lay in ruins. The French sent an army to Edinburgh after the English withdrew but they were told to leave and shortly afterwards Scotland became a Protestant country. Mary Queen of Scots, a devout Catholic, returned to the city after her marriage there came to an end. But after a series of disasterous marriages in Scotland that outraged public opinion, Mary fled to England where her cousin Queen Elizabeth I, a protestant, was on the throne. She was imprisoned there for 19 years and executed in 1587.
In 1603 with the death of Queen Elizabeth I of England, Mary Queen of Scots' son James VI inherited the English throne and became James I of Great Britain. He would have liked to join the two countries completely but Scotland retained its own Parliament, church, legal and education systems. Edinburgh was without its King but it was believed that peace would now reign with the union of the crowns.
King Charles I visited Edinburgh in 1637 and caused uproar when he imposed the Anglican prayer book at St Giles. The following year the national Covenant which called on its supporters to renounce popery and resist all religious innovation was signed in Greyfriars Churchyard. This document can still be seen today at the Edinburgh Museum. In 1642 civil war in England between the forces of the King and Oliver Cromwell also affected Scotland. The Scots joined the English parliamentarians against the King as the Covenanters opposed his religious policies but they were horrified at his execution. Oliver Cromwell and his troops invaded Edinburgh in 1650, the town's wall being no match for him and the city surrendered without a fight. His troops treated the citizens badly and did a lot of damage to Holyrood Palace but eventually a relationship was forged. There was rejoicing among the population when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660. Religious tensions rose however and culminated in over 100 Covenanters being held outdoors in an area of Greyfriars Churchyard for 5 months. This area now known as the Covenanter's Prison is said to be haunted.
The population of the city continued to increase and by 1694 there were around 21000 inhabitants living in extremely crowded conditions. Sanitation was almost non existant and at 10pm every night the citizens threw their waste out into the street with a cry of Gardy Loo from the French Gardez L'eau. Men were employed to clear up the waste but in some of the narrow closes it lay for days and stank. This didn't help the inhabitants avoid various fevers sickness and plaugues which were all too common. Another major concern at the time was that of fire. The council forbade the use of thatch and ordered that all new buildings have stone roofs. The baking of bread and drying of skins was forbidden on all but the ground floors but even so fires broke out at regular intervals. In 1681 water was brought to the city from Comiston some distance away through wooden pipes. As it was on higher ground gravity brought the water to wells placed around the High street - some of which can still be seen today.
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