St Triduana's Chapel

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St Triduana's Chapel


St. Triduana's Well, Restalrig.jpg
St Triduana's Chapel, Restalrig
Type: Chapel
Grid reference: NT28337448
Location: 55°57’29"N, 3°8’58"W
Built 1477
For: King James III
Owned by: Historic Scotland
Website: St Triduana's Chapel – HES

St Triduana's Chapel (also known as 'St Triduana's Aisle') is a mediæval chapel standing apart in the churchyard of St Margaret's Church in Restalrig, once a village and now an inner suburb of Edinburgh, within Midlothian.

In the Middle Ages, this was a popular destination for pilgrimages. Now only the lower storey of the chapel remains, but it is still an impressive and unusual piece of architecture.

The chapel is hexagonal in plan and is said to have been one of the most remarkable buildings in Scotland during the fifteenth century. It is named after a Pictish saint, Triduana, who is said to have been blinded and martyred in the AD 500s, hence the association of the well here with the cure of eye ailments.

The wellhouse has since the Reformation been moved and now stands in Holyrood Park, where it is known as known as St Margaret's Well.


There has been a church at Restalrig as far back as 1178 and originally its parish incorporated South Leith. In 1296, Adam of St Edmunds, the pastor of 'Restalric', swore fealty to English king, Edward I.[1]

The mediæval church was a rectangular building, and housed the relics of St Triduana, and her cult prospered under the patronage of King James III. He built a the hexagonal chapel as a chapel royal adjacent to the kirk, and endowed it a chaplaincy in 1477.[2] It became known as the King's Chapel. At the same time, King James made the kirk a collegiate establishment called the Deanery of Restalrig, and initiated a programme of extension.

Originally the chapel was built on two levels: the surviving lower level of the hexagon was an undercroft for the chapel above. Sometimes referred to as a "well-house", this is probably a misnomer, the flooding being accidental. The lower aisle was used as a burial chamber for the Logan family.[3]

King James IV added six prebendaries to the kirk's Deanery and James V a choir of boys.[2]

The sudden Reformation of 1560 brought an immediate end to the pilgrimages and the dissolution of its college of clergy. The chapel's high status and its superstitious cult of a relics made it an early victim of the reformers. On 21 December 1560, the General Assembly ordered the destruction and quarrying of the church buildings. Only the lower level of the chapel, as a burial vault, survived, and parts of choir walls. (These walls were demolished when William Burn built a new church here in 1836; the current parish church, known as St Margaret's, Restalrig Road.)[3]

St Triduana's Aisle is protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.[4]

Outside links


  1. Marshall (1986) page 149
  2. 2.0 2.1 Marshall (1986) page 150
  3. 3.0 3.1 MacIvor, Iain. "The King's Chapel At Restalrig and St Triduana's Aisle" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  4. St Triduana's Aisle, chapel and wellhouse: Scheduled Monument designation (HES)