Where Romance and History Meet - www.heartsthroughhistory.com/

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tips and Tricks


of a moderately prolific writer.

Social Networks


by Ann Lethbridge

We are always hearing that a new social network is the place to be. How can a writer who want to produce lots of books keep up with all that? And do you need to?

But can you afford not to?

It is a conundrum. An author wants to do her bit to promote her books.

And it is not just the social sites like facebook, myspace, goodreads, etc., there are your publisher sites, like E-harlequin, Mills and Boon Community, Casablanca Authors, and oh my goodness they have social sites on facebook etc too. And if you are like me and you write under more than one name, you can times all of them by two.

After scrambling madly for a while to be in all places at once, I decided that it is readers who I want to contact, and my websites are the key. I know they find me there, because those websites appear on every site and they send me letters through the site email.

But how to cover off everything else. Will I be missing people if I don't facebook etc? An important part of my website is the link to my blog, http://www.regencyramble.blogspot.com. This is where my alta egos come together as one. This is where I update information weekly, where as the websites are say once a month. And bliss.... I can link my blog (via an RSS feed) to most social sites including twitter. It may seem like cheating, but anything anyone wants to know about me as a writer goes on my blog. If readers find me in both places, they are quickly going to decide where they prefer to meet me. "Do it once" is my new motto. Since the social sites connect to my email, if anyone comments, I can quickly go and respond right away. And if I want to see what other people are doing, then I can visit those sites at my leisure.

I do visit the forums on my publishers' website too, once a week, or more, if something special is going on, but I have time, because I have all the other sites pretty well covered.

Do those sites bring in new readers? I have no idea. The jury is still out. But this is one way you can keep your toe in the water without drowning and keep the words flowing onto the page.

I hope you find something here that helps you and feel feel to friend me at your favourite social site.

Oh, and the picture above? My next book coming out with Harlequin on May 1. Wicked Rake, Defiant Mistress by Ann Lethbridge.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The truth, the whole truth, or ???

Historical romance authors need to decide how much true history to incorporate into their novels. Balancing interesting, realistic plots and settings while not overpowering the romance can be a challenge. We are writing fiction, yet the addition of the word "historical" on the spine implies the inclusion of some actual history. As a reader, I’m not all that fond of novels where, for example, the historical element goes no further than having the hero/heroine romp about in a castle and do castle-y things. Yet often real history conflicts with the story you want to write. How much can you stray from what really happened without being inaccurate and/or alienating readers?

For example, is it ok to compress distance/time if your hero/heroine need to get between two places faster than actual travel time permits? Put the king somewhere he might not have been so your h/h can interact with him? Imply details about a real place you’re having trouble tracking down information about?  Alter the role a real historical figure played? 

The farther back you go, the fewer original documents such as letters and contracts that exist. The more researchers have to speculate. The harder it is to translate from original languages.  I’m often surprised how seemingly reliable sources can disagree on what actually happened and/or when/where.  It’s like striking gold when I come across more than one source that says something like, “No one knows exactly when X took place or how Y happened,”  or when accounts differ, for example, as to the weather on a given day or the specific location of a battle.  I’m free to fill in the blanks as I see fit.

And which sources should an author rely on? Many agree that Wikipedia, for example, is a starting off point but not a final authority. If one research book written by a professor says Y and another says Z, which do you trust? What if you don’t have access to primary sources?

Some authors insert a note to explain how they have stretched, ignored or adapted the truth to suit the purposes of their stories. I prefer this to reading and wondering what did or didn’t actually happen. But there’s a “going too far” line authors can cross that I’ll only know when I see it.

What do you think?

A few articles on this topic:

Medieval Sourcebook: Why Study History Through Primary Sources

Purdue Online Writing Lab

Yale College

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gathering Food the Nimiipuu Way


I think we've all heard Native Americans (Indians) thought highly of the earth and believed all its creatures were gifts. The Nez Perce were especially grateful to the bountiful fish and wildlife in their territories as well as the plants which they harvested to round out their diets.

The men of the Nez Perce built weirs and fished, but the women maintain the weirs and processed the fish. Drying the salmon and trout over fires on racks made of limbs or on sticks stuck in the ground and bent over the fire. In the heat of the summer the fish would also be dried on racks in the hot summer sun and soup was made from the heads.

The men hunted large game animals and could be gone for up to a year or more when they traveled into the plains for buffalo, returning with huge amounts of dried buffalo and hides. The women traveled with them on theses hunts to prepared the meat for transporting back to their villages.

Nothing was wasted of an animal, the meat was cooked, smoked, and dried. The tongue and liver were eaten raw and ears were used as seasoning in soups. The fat was used to cook fry bread and bear meat was barbecued. Pemmican was made from the dried meat. It was broke into pieces that would fit in a mortar and pounded adding intestines and meat fat. This was a staple when traveling. They also made a pemmican of dried salmon and berries which the Nez Perce men carried wrapped in leaves in the bottom of their quivers. This was a nutritious easy-to-carry food when they were hunting.

The women were in charge of gathering roots, herbs, berries, and killing small game. They used sticks called tu`k`es or digging sticks to extract the roots from the earth. In some instances they would span out across valleys teeming with the camas, bitterroot, and kous.

Camas roots were dug from June to September depending on the elevation where they grew. They were gathered in wet upland meadows. Weippe Meadows, Camas Prairie, Palouse Prairie and Grande Ronde Valley. They were baked and steamed. Cooking pits or large holes were dug before the harvest. After the roots were dug they would lay out hot red rocks in the hole, sprinkle with water, put dirt over the rocks, then fresh alder leaves, and a layer of meadow grass. Then the camas. The roots were covered with alder leaves, meadow grass, sprinkled with water and dirt, then a fire built on top and they cooked for three days. The roots were then eaten whole, pounded into flour, or tossed in soup.

Kous was dug from April to July. It was found in dry rocky soil and is similar in shape to a carrot. It was eaten either fresh or dry. Thy peeled off the skin and sun dried it. Then they would pound it into a oatmeal or cornmeal and serve as a cooked mush or make a ball and sun dry it or make a long bread called o`ppah that was smoked.

Bitterroot was dug in Nespelem area in August. It resembles a crocus with pink flowers. The yellow root looks like spaghetti and must be peeled. This root wasn't ground up, it was served like a vegetable. They mostly traded for it with the Plateau Indians. Women ate bitterroot or made tea to increase their milk flow after childbirth.

Wild onions were the first root of spring, dug in April. They have a fern-like top and the bulb is the size of a walnut. They also dug wild carrot in May. It grows in clusters in damp or wet areas. The blossom is two feet high and smells like the food. It is a finger sized food with a brown jacket and white meat. Sweet and rich flavor and may be eaten raw. They also dried and ground it for porridge and boiled it fresh like a potato.Or preserved the root by drying and grinding it into flour for loaves that were smoked and stored.

They stone boiled soup in willow baskets. Putting a rock that has been heating in a fire into the basket. They stored food in baskets and hide bags as well as caches or pits dug in the ground where large amounts of food would be stored for the whole band. These could be any where along their well traveled routes or hidden.

That is some more of the information I've gleaned while working on my paranormal trilogy set among the Nez Perce.

www.patyjager.net
www.patyjager.blogspot.com

Sources: Nez Perce Women in Transition, 1877-1990, Caroline James
Nee Me Poo- Allen p> Slickpoo Sr. and Deward E. Walker, Jr.

Photos: http://www.firstpeople.us

Friday, February 19, 2010

Shay's Rebellion - Part 1

I was going through some old files and found a paper I did for honor's credit for my government class.  I decided if it was good enough to earn me honor's credit, it was good enough to share.  First, a little background.  When I decided to take up romance writing again in 2002, I started writing the story that had rattled around in my brain for 15 years.  A story that took place in Massachusetts in the 1780's.  I then did a little research and discovered information about "Shay's Rebellion."  I don't think I used it in my story, but the rebellion stayed in my head and when I revisited it again in government 101 in college.  We I needed a subject for my honor's paper, I picked it.  Quite frankly, the United States wouldn't have the U.S. Constitution it does today if not for Shay's Rebellion happening when it did -- between the Annapolis Convention 1786 and the The Constitution Convention a year later.

This paper is nine pages long, too long to post here at one time.  So, what I'm going to do, is split it up and post the beginning here and the second part today on my own blog, Chatting With Anna Kathryn.  I still won't post the whole thing today, but will finish it up over the next few days on my own blog.  So please stop by and read about the 'little rebellion' that shaped the U. S. Constitution.




Shays’ Rebellion: Shaping the Constitution, Part One

“Since it is no secret that wars and revolutions seldom settle anything, the founding fathers of the republic should have been less startled than they were when...in Massachusetts the Minutemen marched again,” (3). Thus states Marion L. Starkey in the prologue for A Little Rebellion. They were not only shocked to find fellow Americans taking up arms in objection of many of the same injustices they themselves had protested just a few short years before, but they were startled by the lack of Federal aid available through the Articles of Confederation to help squash the rebellion.

The rebellion in Massachusetts was more than disagreements between disgruntle, indebted landowners and the merchant class who had the ear of the state legislature. It was an opening for those who wished to change the Federal Government from one with very few powers to one with backbone and more control over the individual states.

When the Articles of Confederation were written and voted on in 1777 the delegates wanted a weak national government. At the heart of this document was the principle that “each state should retain its sovereignty, freedom and independence and every power, jurisdiction and right not expressly delegated to the Union government,” explains the forward of The Constitution Convention, (14). Having just declared war on a government that suppressed them, taxed them and did not allow proper representation, “The States did not want to make the same mistake by creating an American National legislature that they could not control,” (15).

Irving Brant in Establishing a Government states, “These articles were drafted in a period of national strength and unity, but they did not reflect that spirit...They were weakened by sectional jealousies, by errors due to inexperience, and by the all-pervading dislike of taxation, (95).”

The Articles of Confederation gave the National Government the authority to provide for a national defense, but it did not give it the power to raise the taxes necessary to pay for an army. Instead, the government relied on the individual states to raise the money for them. States complained that the other states were not paying their fair share and would then pay less in retaliation. This lack of  taxing power would prove to be a fatal flaw in the Articles.

From the start critics expressed concern that the Articles were too weak for the National government to address such  important security matters. “[V]aliant efforts were made to amend the Articles of Confederation. Twelve states voted to give Congress power to tax imports...but Rhode Island blocked the plan,” explains Brant (96). Finally, a convention was called and held in Annapolis, Maryland in 1786 to look into strengthening the Articles. However, only five of the thirteen states bothered to send delegates.

The Annapolis Convention was an abysmal failure, but Alexander Hamilton took advantage of the instructions New Jersey sent along with its delegates. They were “to consider ways to strengthen the national government in more than simply commercial issues.” This wording resulted in a resolution by Hamilton calling for a convention in Philadelphia in 1787 to “devise further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union,” The Constitution Convention (21).

Read Part Two, posted on my blog at Chatting with Anna Kathryn Lanier.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats
http://www.aklanier.com/
http://annakathrynlanier.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Today is MARDI GRAS

So of course, I have to blog about the history of the food of Mardi Gras, most specifically the "King Cake" of Louisiana. Before I give the history of the cake, I want to correct a bit of tradition. Most people believe that Mardi Gras parades began here in the United States in New Orleans. WRONG!

The first Mardi Gras parades were held in Mobile, AL. They predated the New Orleans parades by several years. To this day, in Mobile and all the surrounding areas we still have hundreds of parades.

Now about the King Cake. What you might ask is a King Cake? It's a brioche type of pastry baked only at this time of year. It is traditional and has been for hundreds of years. There's a bit of controversy over the origins, but I'll start in the 12th century. The Church at the time celebrated the Epiphany on the 6th of January, the twelfth night feast. The cake, a pastry, had a bean or coin buried inside the cake. The person who got the piece with the bean or coin was declared the King of the night.

The tradition continued from that time and was brought to the colonies by the
French. Again the cake was baked as part of the 12th night celebration. And only then. The bean was replaced with a porcelain figure of baby Jesus in Cajun country of Louisiana in the 19th century along with a filling of sugar, spices and the nuts of the south, pecans. Still the person who got the piece with the doll was declared the King of the feast.

As the season expanded from January 6th to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday every year, the King Cake became a way to determine the King of the Mardi Gras parade.
Today, King Cakes are available all over the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida.
Tradition dictates now, if you are the recipient of the doll, a small plastic baby figure, you must provide the next King Cake for the next Mardi Gras party. (And we do have a lot of parties!)

About the colors of the cake! The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold. There's also a reason for the colors. Remember this is related to the celebration surrounding the arrival of the Magi on January 6th after the first Christmas. Purple means justice, and the green stands for faith. Gold stands for power and any traditional King Cake has purple, green and gold icing or sugar sprinkles on it. I've included a picture of the traditional Cake.

Today the cake can be filled with fruit, spices and nuts, cream cheese filling or a cream filling. It's a rich bread-like pastry that is loaded with Calories. However, since pastries are not supposed to be available during the season of Lent, the Calories don't count. Ha!

Of course, being interested in the history of food, I have to give you the recipe for the traditional New Orleans King Cake. I must also warn you. The King Cake must only be baked between January 6th until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

This recipe which comes from a recipe in the Times Picayune Newspaper of 2003.

King Cake
makes 1 large coffeecake-sized ring

1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees F)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs

Cinnamon Filling
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 small plastic baby figurine
(I know people who also use 1/2 cup chopped pecans in the filling)

Frosting
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Purple, green, and yellow paste food coloring

For the dough: Pour the warm water into a large warmed bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast and stir until it dissolves. Stir in the warm milk, butter, sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Add 1 cup of the flour and blend well. Stir in the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Lightly flour a flat work surface, and turn out the dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding more flour if the dough sticks. Put in a large greased bowl, and turn to grease the top of the dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

For the filling: Punch the dough down. Transfer to the lightly floured work surface and use a rolling pin to roll into a 30-by-9-inch rectangle. Brush with the melted butter. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Beginning at the long end, roll up tightly, as for a jelly roll. Pinch the seam to seal. (The baby charm will go in after baking.) Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 20 to 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the cake from the baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack. Push the plastic baby figurine into the underside of the cake. (You can substitute a coin or a bean which you can place in the filling before you bake the cake.)

For the frosting: In a small bowl mix together the sugar, almond extract, and milk until smooth. Divide among three smaller bowls. Tint one mixture purple, the second one green, and the third one gold, mixing each one well. Frost as shown, alternating the colors.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name


A Rose By Any Other Name

When starting a story, one of the things I really put thought into is the names of my characters. And when writing a historical, you want to get names that fit your characters as well as give some authenticity to the time period you’re writing.

Always consider the impact of your characters names. Not just any name will do. Why do you thing Marion Morrison changed his name when he became an actor? For example, a friend of mine was writing a contemporary with a heroine who was supposed to be somewhat of a free spirit, unorganized and dressed in lots of bead and flowing skirts. Now there is nothing wrong with this, but she was having trouble making the character work. She had named the character Taylor. As I pointed out to her, the name and its conations did not match the heroine she was trying to create. So once she changed the characters name to something for in line with the actual character she was creating, the story went much better.

(By the way, the name Marion Morrison used when he started acting in cowboy movies was John Wayne.)

In one of my favorite author’s one book has a heroine named Niema. Now, how do I pronounce that (even if it’s only in my head)? Neigh-ma? Knee-I-ma? Nay-ma? And by the time the author gave me the information on how to pronounce it, I’d been doing it wrong, so every time thereafter, I stumbled over this name, having to think if I was reading/pronouncing it correctly.

So if you character has an unusual name, or one where the spelling doesn’t match the pronunciation, be sure to give the reader a clue as to how they pronounce their name as soon a possible. For example, if your medieval heroine’s name is spelled Brighid (after St. Brighid) you have to let your reader know that it’s most to be pronounced as ‘Bride’. This traditional spelling of Brighid has morphed into the modern Brigitte.

If you’re writing historicals you probably won’t want to call your heroine Tiffany. And while the name Mildred is a nice historical name you might not want to use that either as it will not strike the modern reader’s ear with any harmony. So you have to find that nice middle ground where the name is historical, but easy on the modern ear.

Another thing to remember that many names that are given to females today were traditionally and historically male names. Today a person with the name Ashley is most likely female, but just over a hundred years ago it was a man’s name (remember who Scarlett was in love with at the beginning of Gone With the Wind?). The same goes for the names Stacy, Tracy, Courtney, Terry, Leslie, Shirley. Even in England today you can find men named Beverly and Evelyn.

When I start a story, I look at the character’s background and see if there is a clue there for the name. While writing KENTUCKY GREEN, I knew my hero grew up on the Kentucky frontier. I wanted him to have all the skills of a frontiersman (which would be used in the story), and knew that his father was a half-breed. When you think of the Kentucky frontier the name Daniel Boone always comes to mind. And Boone was known for not being prejudiced against Indians. So I made my hero’s father a hunting companion of Daniel Boone, and so, following the fashion of that time, the hero was named after his father’s friend, and became Dan.

I did push my luck with the heroine in KENTUCKY GREEN, as her name is April (the month she was born). But in the story April functions as spring/light that helps rescue Dan from his dark/winter personality.

If you are lucky, your characters will tell you what their name is. When doing brainstorming on the plot and characters, one of the things you can do is a first person biography or interview of your character. I used this technique when working on COLORADO SILVER, COLORADO GOLD for the hero. The hero ‘told’ me “My name is Samuel Jacob Westmoreland. My mother died when I was born and my father never forgave me for it.” So since his father’s name was Sam also, my hero became known a Wes. The origins of his name are vital to the story and how he relates to the heroine.

For my heroine, I wanted to name her Julie, which wasn’t too likely, so I made her father a fan of Shakespeare, and her name is really Juliette, and her sister Cordelia after Shakespeare characters.

In my WIP (work in progress), the hero’s goal is to reclaim the ranch that his family lost when rustlers killed his father. So for his name, I chose Clay which relates to the earth, which is his goal.

Who are some of your favorite characters? Do you like to read stories where the character have your name? Or the hero your brother’s name?

Terry
(and yes, this is my real first name, my dad wouldn’t even spring for Teresa)

Friday, February 12, 2010

History as World Building

One of the things I enjoy most about writing historical romances is intertwining real history with the story I’m creating between the two protagonists. I am often inspired by true happenings of the past—some well-known and some not so well-known. I believe this lends authenticity to the setting and it also adds depth to the plot.


My debut novel, The Angel and the Outlaw, took place in 1873 in what is now San Diego. In it, I had references to Marston’s Store, Old Town (the city’s humble beginnings,) the whaling station at Ballast Point, and the lighthouse. My current story is set in the San Diego of 1888. The influx of emigrants and land speculators changed the town from a sleepy border town with a distinctly Mexican flavor to more of a “wild west” town.

During the 1880’s, the town’s real estate boom and the plans for the Santa Fe Railroad attracted many colorful characters. Wyatt Earp was one such character, arriving with his third wife, Josie, five years after his famous gunfight with the Clanton gang at the OK Corral in Tucson. Thirty-seven year old Wyatt ran and/or leased four gambling halls in the city, speculated on land, and officiated at boxing matches. When he won a trotter in a card game, he took an interest in horse racing at the nearby track just north of town.


At his saloons, men played faro, blackjack, poker and keno. It is said, Wyatt could count on profits of as much as $1,000 per night during the years just before San Diego’s real estate bust. A few of his saloons were located in the red light district known to locals as the Stingaree. Here bars, bordellos and opium dens saturated the landscape. It was said that a man could get stung as badly in the Stingaree as he could in the waters of the nearby bay (by the stingray fish.)

It is details such as these that I enjoy including as I write my romances. Rather than have what has been called a “wall-paper” historical romance, I prefer to have a story where real history dictated some of the plot. I feel it adds that “something extra” that “something authentic” to the story. How much history an author chooses to include is determined by the line she is writing for, the type of story she is writing (for example a "disaster plot" like the Titanic) and also her own writer’s voice.
Any thoughts?

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Castle By Any Other Name ...

“They” say that everything happens for a reason. “They” say that there are no coincidences in life. I don’t know if I really believe that, but certainly I’ve begun to believe in destiny over the past year or so.
Some time ago, I began an e-mail friendship with an Irish actor whom I’d written to on a previous occasion. Over the course of our e-mails, I asked him many questions pertaining to the theatre and acting, since the hero of my current work-in-progress is also an actor. He was unfailingly generous in sharing his theatrical insights and experiences with me.

Eventually I sent him a copy of my first novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, and I asked him if he thought the cover was as evocative of Ireland as I’d hoped. In reply, he informed me that my cover looked like Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara, Galway. The castle holds medieval banquets during the summer season, and has a show, a literary history of Ireland, that is performed after the meal.

Well, naturally, as soon as I heard that, I had to find out more. So I Googled Dunguaire Castle, and much to my amazement, Dunguaire Castle looked identical to Ballycashel House, as depicted on the cover of In Sunshine or in Shadow.
Here’s what I found out about Dunguaire Castle: Built in 1520 by the O’Hynes clan on the shores of Galway Bay, the castle is believed to have been the royal palace of Guaire Aidhne, the legendary King of Connacht and progenitor of the clan.

This is the backstory I created for Ballycashel House (yes, I do write backstory for my settings): a medieval castle in Galway, by the sea. The name Ballycashel means “town of the castle,” and Ballycashel House sits on the ruins of the castle of the ancient chieftain, Sean Donnelly. It’s said the ghost of the chieftain appears to forewarn of a death in the family.

Fate? Destiny? Coincidence? I don’t know for sure, But I was able to visit Dunguaire last July, and I’m convinced that Dunguaire and Ballycashel are one and the same.
Here’s a lovely bit of a verse taken from the entertainment at Dunguaire Castle, written by Carolyn Swift:

For Guaire, King of Connacht, was famed throughout the land


For unrivalled hospitality and a generous giving hand;


And since the seventh century his right arm legend told,


Was longer than his left from giving gold.



He had a royal palace on a river isle near Gort,


But on this very ground there stood Rath Durlois, his fort,

Which often-we are told-was called “the fort of lasting fame,”

And “white-sheeted fort of soft stones”' was another of its names.


Alas King Guaire feared the saintly bishop of Kilmore,


Though he renounced the crown that should be rightfully his by law,

And determined to settle it without a shade of doubt,

Guaire had the Bishop murdered-but was all too soon found out.

So then, in guilty sorrow at the wrong which he had done,


He traveled to the monks of whom his victim had been one,


And there-in Clonmacnoise,-he died ,within the monastery,

Respected once again by all-the year; six, sixty three.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oldest Building in Edinburgh: St. Margaret’s Chapel

By Nicole North

When I visited Edinburgh Castle, my favorite among all the wonderful old buildings was St. Margaret’s Chapel. It is the oldest building in Edinburgh, built in 1124 by King David in honor of his mother, Queen Margaret. The chapel is located within the Edinburgh Castle fortress on Castle Rock, an extinct volcano which hasn't been active in millions of years.

The castle was damaged or destroyed in sieges many times over the centuries. In 1314, Randolph, Earl of Moray captured the castle and destroyed all the buildings except the chapel. We can assume the chapel was damaged however, because on his deathbed a few years later, Robert the Bruce ordered the chapel be repaired.

Because of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, the chapel wasn’t used for many years, except as a storage building for gunpowder. Canons are located just outside and were fired at certain times. If you stand in this area, you look out over the whole city of Edinburgh.

(To the left is a drawing of St. Margaret.) In 1853, the chapel was again restored by Queen Victoria and the five small windows adorned with stained glass. The beautiful stained glass windows we see today were installed in 1922, and further restorations were carried out over the years since. At 10 feet by 16 feet the chapel is only large enough to hold about 20 people comfortably, but it is still used for baptisms and weddings on occasion.

Above is the alter. The architecture of the building is Romanesque and resembles earlier Scottish and Irish Celtic chapels. The stained glass windows feature the following saints and people important in Scottish history:


St. Andrew


St. Columba


St. Margaret


St. Ninian and


William Wallace




According to legend, St. Margaret's Gospel Book, richly adorned with jewels, was one day dropped into a river. The book was recovered later and miraculously without any stain or damage. This medieval manuscript, purchased for just six pounds at auction in 1887, is now held in the Bodleian library at Oxford and the above picture is a copy displayed in St. Margaret’s Chapel.

This chapel is tiny and ancient, yet incredibly beautiful. The walls are thick and it is cool inside. It has a quiet peaceful feel. To stand inside the building is to stand in the midst of medieval history, or at least as close as we can to it.
http://www.nicolenorth.com/