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No other Scottish monarch has left such a mark on Edinburgh as James IV.  It was during his reign that work started on Holyrood Palace, the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle and the crown spire of St Giles. In 1503 Edinburgh celebrated the Marriage of the Thistle and the Rose in Holyrood Abbey when James wed the 13 years’ old Margaret, daughter of Henry VII. His court attracted writers and poets such as William Dunbar and Gavin Douglas. He was a champion of education and in  1505, the Edinburgh Guild of Barbers and Surgeons was formally incorporated as a craft guild of the city. James also encouraged the opening of Scotland’s first printing press in the Cowgate in 1507.

His good works were brought to a shuddering halt by his impetuous decision to invade England in 1513.  James died fighting in the front rank of his army with perhaps as many as 10000 Scots killed. The Flodden Wall, built after the disaster, is a grim legacy of Scotland’s Renaissance king.

Eric Melvin is our speaker. Eric graduated with First Class Honours in History and Political Thought from Edinburgh University in 1967. He qualified as a secondary teacher of History and Modern Studies at the then Moray House College of Education gaining a Dip. Ed. in the process and the Staff Prize. Eric later gained an M.Ed. from the University of Edinburgh. He retired from teaching in 2005, working latterly for the City of Edinburgh Council as Headteacher at Currie Community High School. Eric has had several books published on various aspects of Edinburgh’s rich history including books for young readers.


Edinburgh is 900 Years Old!

In 1124 King David I introduced a new system of local government into Scotland by creating royal burghs as part of his efforts to reform the nation’s economic and political structures.

Edinburgh was one of his first royal burghs, along with Berwick, Dunfermline, Roxburgh and Stirling.

While there is no surviving founding Edinburgh charter, an 1127 Dunfermline Abbey royal charter refers to ‘my burgh of Edinburgh’. In 1128, Canongate Burgh was created for Holyrood Abbey.

After the Reformation, Edinburgh spent considerable effort acquiring the former abbey’s lands over the following 200 years. It acquired Canongate then created a new burgh for South Leith in 1636. The burghs of Broughton, Calton and Portsburgh were also acquired and run by Edinburgh. This complex system of governance was abolished in 1856 when all burghs under the management of Edinburgh were merged into a single burgh.

In 1833, Portobello and Leith were made independent parliamentary burghs under the Burgh Reform Act. They ran their own affairs until amalgamated into an expanded Edinburgh in 1896 and 1920, respectively. 1975 saw the last expansion of the city’s boundaries, including Queensferry, which had been made a royal burgh in 1636.

Edinburgh has selected 2024 to mark the start of the 900th anniversary of our city, and to tell the story of Edinburgh’s journey through the centuries from the 12th century City of David right up to the 21st century, the City of Diversity. Our talks at the City Art Centre will celebrate the 10 themes and will span a period of summer 2024 until August 2025.


The Edinburgh of James IV