St Giles’ in the Middle Ages
St Giles’ was founded about 1124 when the Scottish royal family, the sons of Queen (Saint) Margaret and King Malcolm Canmore, especially David I (reigned 1124-1153) made strenuous efforts to spread Catholic Christian worship throughout Scotland.
This church was probably quite small, Norman (i.e. Romanesque, with rounded arches and elaborate carving) in style, like others built at the same time. Few traces of it survive in the present building. According to tradition, it was burned by the English in 1322 and rebuilt in a much grander Gothic style, with pointed arches and simple octagonal pillars. Burned again in 1385 by another invading English army, it was quickly repaired.
Over the next 150 years many chapels were added. These included chapels set up by prominent nobles, merchants, and craft guilds and a chapel for a relic of St Giles. By the middle of the 16th century, there were around fifty side altars in the church, as well as the high altar at the east end, dedicated to St Giles himself.