Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dalmeny Church

The name Dalmeny is of Scottish Gaelic origin, being now Dail Mheinnidh or Dail M'Eithne in the modern language. This may refer to an ancient ecclesiastical settlement, dedicated to an obscure (female) saint Eithne; the local parish church may have been dedicated to her, but is now dedicated to St Cuthbert. It is at least a thousand years old.

The present church building is recognised as the finest Norman/Romanesque parish church still in use in Scotland, and one of the most complete in the United Kingdom, lacking only its original western tower (rebuilt in a sympathetic style in 1937). The aisleless nave, choir and apse survive almost complete from the 12th century.
Outside the elaborate south doorway, including the signs of the zodiac and an "agnus dei", enlivened with blind arcading above, is a rare 12th century sarcophagus carved with 13 doll-like figures (possibly Christ and the 12 apostles) in niches (now very weathered).
Most early Scottish churches were destroyed either wilfully during the Reformation; or by "improvements" made following the Reformation to accommodate the very different physical needs of Presbyterian worship; or by alterations made, or rebuilding undertaken, to increase the size of churches as parish populations grew in later centuries.  The survival of this church is understood to be a result of its proximity to a nearby area of population growth, South Queensbury.  This area became its own parish in 1636 and was appropriated the improvement income from St. Cuthbert's for its own purposes, leaving St. Cuthbert's in relative obscurity.

Dalmeny is a suburban village in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is located on the south side of the Firth of Forth, 1 mile (1.6 km) east-southeast of South Queensferry and 8.3. miles (13.4 km) west-northwest of central Edinburgh; it falls under the local governance of the City of Edinburgh Council.
One cannot visit Dalmeny without seeing the Forth Bridge.  The cantilever railway bridge was built between 1883 and 1890 and was first major structure in Britain to be constructed of steel. Large amounts of steel had become available only after the invention of the Bessemer process in 1855. Until 1877 the British Board of Trade had limited the use of steel in structural engineering because the process produced steel of unpredictable strength. Only the Siemens-Martin open-hearth process developed by 1875 yielded steel of consistent quality. The 64,800 tons of steel needed for the bridge was provided by two steel works in Scotland and one in Wales.  At 1.5 miles long, the Forth Bridge is the second longest cantilever bridge in the world.

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