Walk to West Door

Two wooden doors, open in centre with five stone arches supported by 2m stone pillars.

Fiona: We will walk to the opposite end of the Abbey from where we met, to the grand looking west door, at the far left of the building, I want to take you back a bit.  

Fiona: Clearly we don’t know what Margaret and Malcolm’s marriage was really like but some say they were mad keen about each other and she managed to tame him.  It was really important to Margaret for her husband to be as devoted to God as she was. He probably didn’t sign up to the whole idea – he was known as a warlord, after all – but she did seem to at least partly win him around and there are stories of how Malcolm was so keen to please her, he would have her favourite religious books decorated in gold, silver and precious jewels.  

Fiona: But his biggest gift of all was the power he gave her to make really significant changes in the church.  As far as the new queen was concerned, the church she found when she arrived in Scotland was uncivilised and much less formal than the ones she had grown up in.  So, she set about changing it.

Thomas: (Ironically) Bet she was popular with the local priest, only too delighted to have her coming along and interfering with their traditions.

Fiona: Quite. As a girl, Margaret had followed an austere and rigorous form of worship, led by Benedictine monks who taught that religion itself was a grave and serious business.  Influenced by this, Margaret frowned upon laughter and frivolity and found the local church rules too lax for her taste. Malcolm allowed her to found a priory here, which she did with the help of three monks sent from Canterbury, and she even changed the language that services were held in, putting them into Latin instead of the local Scots Gaelic.  

All this change was radical and probably unwelcome but it did help modernise the church and bring a discipline to Scotland it had never had before.  

Fiona: Her children were especially influenced by all the good works she did through her life.  When her youngest son David later became King, one of the many things he did for the town, and for Scotland more widely, was to build this abbey in his mother’s honour.  It’s a fascinating place and there are supposed to be more than twenty kings, queens, princes and princesses buried in there though it’s not known exactly where. But you can see the grave of Robert the Bruce if you want to come back another day.  We’ll have to check the signs for how to get in.

Fiona: What have you ever built for your Mum?

Thomas: I built a bookcase from Ikea for her last year.  Took me ages. Would you believe I had to go back 3 times to get the right screws? 

Fiona: Hmm.  Not quite on David’s scale.  Next, I want you to look here, at the West door.  I think the swirly hinges on the door are beautiful and look, can you see in the middle of the swirls, there are birds worked into them.  This bird, called a Martlett, is a symbol related to Margaret, but I reckon it looks just like the Twitter logo.  So maybe David was way ahead of his time.  These days he might have just posted a tweet – luv you, Mum, heart emoji. 

Thomas: I posted a picture of me and my screwdriver next to the bookcase, got me some likes.  Just saying.  

So, Malcolm and Margaret were blissfully happy and lovebirds were tweeting all around.  Where did they live? Was it this huge ruined building next to us?

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