The Mystery of the Child’s Bones Hidden in the Walls of Edinburgh Castle – Part 3

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Edinburgh castle
Edinburgh castle

Although he admitted that James VI and the Second Earl of Mar were alike, there was no indication that James VI was anyone other than the son of Henry Darnley and Mary Queen of Scots. In rebuttal, antiquarian K Heanley felt that James VI’s repulsive appearance, shameful conduct, and contemptible cowardice made it impossible for him to be the son of Mary Queen of Scots. He must simply have been a changeling, probably of common origin due to his rude manners; Was it to be born in a den in Cowgate, bought for a pittance, and hoisted to the heights of the castle in a manger?

Finally, in 1944, a mysterious man named Frank Gent wrote a very competent review of the Edinburgh Castle mystery controversy, citing at length all previous authors and uncovering the original reports of the discovery in Edinburgh. Advertiser and the Glasgow Courier. . However, he did not stay any closer to solving the mystery, and as the war was on his contribution was largely overlooked.

Avoiding the flights of fantasy cited above, the solid facts remain that in 1830 a number of bones were found hidden inside a wall in the royal apartments of the castle. It is possible, although not conclusively proven, that these bones were placed in some kind of wooden container, such as a box or chest. One of the bones, which would have looked like a rib, was turned over to the Société des Antiquaires.

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Jan Bondeson

As it is established in forensic medicine that after the elimination of a body or a skeleton, the longest bones are the skull, pelvis and spine, it is very unlikely that the bones found at the castle represented a skeleton, whether human or animal. If a rib had survived intact, so would the skull and pelvis, of which no contemporary mention has been made.

A more difficult problem to solve is what the bones were doing in the castle wall in the first place. Already in 1907, it had been suggested that they represented a construction sacrifice, emanating from a living walled animal during the construction of the royal apartments at the end of the 15th century, in order to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.

This theory would have received support if it had been established that such barbaric and inhuman practices were common among the Scots of the late Middle Ages, when constructing buildings for the tallest in the country. Additionally, animals enclosed in construction sacrifices tend to become mummified rather than just deteriorate into a collection of bones. The walling up of a collection of human or animal bones would have had no folkloric significance as a construction sacrifice.

Then we have Grant R Francis’ suggestion that the bone box was a reliquary; this hypothesis would explain many things that otherwise would have been obscure, if it had been possible to explain why a precious reliquary would be mistakenly hidden in a wall. Francis’ suggestion that it had to do with the Reformation would have received useful support if other relics had been found hidden in this way at the time; for a devout Roman Catholic it would have been a sacrilege to treat a holy object with such disrespect. And a reliquary usually contains only one bone or other relic, and barely a number of them.

There is of course the possibility that, out of fear of John Knox and his fanatic supporters, some desperate Catholics have emptied all the castle reliquaries into a box and walled up the sacred bones inside the royal apartments, but once again , that would have been sacrilegious behavior.

Third and finally, there is of course also the possibility that some frisky young officers would hide the box of bones in the wall beforehand, like a hoax, but that would require a triple alliance of superior historical knowledge, good access to the bones of some ossuary, and a perverted sense of humor in setting up such an unnecessary masquerade.

The mystery of Edinburgh Castle is still a mystery, although it is unlikely that there is any royal involvement. in reality, we don’t even know if they were of human or animal origin, and there is nothing that connects them to Mary Queen of Scots.

Among the amateur historians discussing the mystery, some have embarked on extravagant discussions of the changelings on the throne, but surely Queen Mary was to know if her newborn son was alive or dead, and that is not compatible with this. that we know of her. character that she would gladly have played a role in such a masquerade.

In all likelihood, James VI of Scotland, who would become James I of England, was the son of Henry Darnley and Mary Stuart.This is an edited excerpt from the book by Jan Bondeson Phillimore’s Edinburgh, published by Amberley Publishing

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