Saturday 11th December

Douglas Strachan, Scotland’s leading stained glass revivalist in the early-to-mid 20th century, is responsible for one of our best loved windows: Christ stilling the storm and walking on water. But Strachan has several other small pieces high up in the Clerestory – you can see them if you head to the east end of the cathedral and crane your neck. It is well worth it!

  1. Here we have children under the protection of the Archangels Michael and Raphael. This window is typical of Strachan’s blue/green colour palette and features several saltire crosses. Above Raphael’s head is the Paschal lamb, associated with Christ’s sacrifice for mankind. In Judaism and Christianity, the ‘lamb and the lion’ image is usually symbolic of peace.

2. There are (unsurprisingly) many depictions of St Giles’ in the cathedral. One that is often overlooked is this gorgeous stained-glass window.

St Giles is holding a model of this building – you can recognise the distinctive West end and crown spire. Interestingly, he is not pictured with the arrow through his arm or hand as is usual. He is placed alongside King Edwin, who once ruled what is now Northumbria and was converted and baptised in 627. He was killed during the Battle of Hatfield Chase against the combined pagan forces of Merica and Gwynedd, and venerated as a saint. There is some suggestion that Edinburgh takes its name from ‘Edwin’s Burgh’ (fort) but this is difficult to square chronologically. Probably the name is much older and comes from the Votadini tribe who inhabited the Lothians in Roman times and called Castle Rock ‘Din Eidyn’. That might well be Edinburgh castle above his head, as it is very similar to early Edinburgh coats of arms.

(All photos by Peter Backhouse)