Anna’s Entry into Edinburgh – 1590

This is one of the first DH projects that I’ve worked on.  It shows Anna of Denmark’s official entry into Edinburgh.


I found a near contemporary map of Edinburgh and using a narrative account of her entry, plotted each point on the map and have included what pageants happened at each site as well as historical engravings or photos of the landmarks of Edinburgh.

Firstly, I found the 1582 map of Edinburgh on the National Library of Scotland’s webpage. It said that the map itself was free to use for academic purposes, but it was provided in a much smaller format.  Geoff was able to find a high quality version of the same map and piece it together to be used in a “zoomify” project, where it can, well, be “zoomed” into to see smaller details in great clarity. Once it was zipped together like a digital jigsaw puzzle, I worked to figure out where each of the places mentioned in the Danish account of the Entry were located.  To do that, I consulted Google Maps for some, my own knowledge for others, as well as a fantastic historic map collection (of JUST Edinburgh!) put together by Christopher Fleet and Daniel MacCannell and published in association with the National Library of Scotland.  The narrative account is contained in David Stevenson’s Scotland’s Last Royal Wedding, with an English translation by Peter Graves. All quotes, unless otherwise noted, as from Scotland’s Last Royal Wedding.

After reading through the narrative account and finding any specific places mentioned by name, and plotting those on the map, I had to figure out a logical path to find all of the other places that were not mentioned by name. I think I have done so accurately, but the stylized nature of the map makes pinpoint accuracy difficult. I’m sure there were many more “side streets” in the Edinburgh of 1590 than pictured in the map, just as there are many little alleyways today.

Once I established a credible path for Anna’s entry to follow, I set about finding images to go along with each place.  I tried to include both contemporary or near-contemporary images of how the building or feature would have looked in Anna’s time as well as modern photographs (especially the gorgeous view from the inside of St. Giles!). After that, I tried to re-write some of the pageants and to describe them simply so that one could follow along easily and enjoy imagining some of the splendor of Anna’s entry. Sometimes, I found that I could not do the original text justice and left the quotes, but others I found I could put my own rhetorical spin on and re-wrote. This is, of course, not complete as the narrative account does contain the text of the speeches and pageants, but instead of including the lengthy prose I wanted to impart more of the visual aspects of Anna’s journey, rather than the textual.

The reason that I chose this particular project to craft is two-fold.  One, is honestly I’ve just been wanting to do this for a long time and finally found the software that I could do it with. I’ve worked with Anna for years now and have been itching to do more work with her in the last year.  Secondly is more of a scholarly reason: Entries seem to be rather understudied.  I am building for myself a scholarly toolkit of historian’s tools but also literary analysis and theatrical analysis and Entries are perfect blends of all three.  Entries are important introductions into not only how royals wanted to represent themselves to their people (self-fashioning), but also the expectations that the people had for their new king or queen.  It was their first chance to see their new king or queen, resplendent in their finery. It was meant as a way to both flatter and educate the king or queen, and so can give a little insight into who that king or queen was as a person and how they were perceived by others.  For Anna, much was made of her royal lineage and how powerful and noble Denmark was. The people of Edinburgh, in their speeches, asked Anna to be good, kind, virtuous, and to bear James many children. They also asked her to love Edinburgh and Scotland, even though it was not as rich or powerful as Copenhagen or Denmark. They also wanted her to love James, because he was also just and wise. This shows not only the love that they hoped that Anna would bestow upon them, but the love they had of their own city and kingdom.  They felt Scotland a worthy match for Anna, just one that is a little rough around the edges.


Without further ado, Anna’s Entry into Edinburgh, 1590:

StoryMapJS of Anna’s Entry


MOOCs for the Independent Scholar

MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses, are classes available online for anyone to take. They cover a wide variety of topics, and depending on from where they come, varying levels of difficulty and specialization. A major host of MOOCs is, of course, Coursera. Partnered with academic institutions, Coursera will host their content and provide a digital framework for the course. Either currently available or in their archives, Coursera boasts an impressive number of different courses. These range anywhere from, “Dinosaurs 101” through the University of Alberta, to “Heterogeneous Parallel Programming” from the University of Illinois-Champaign, to “Statistical Molecular Thermodynamics” from the University of Minnesota, and more.

Each of these, for the most part, will follow a similar structure/grading methods:

  • Lectures are delivered via pre-recorded videos.
  • Multiple Choice Quizzes
  • Forum Discussion
  • Class Project (complete with peer evaluations)

The participant will also be graded, sometimes, on how many peers’ projects they themselves have evaluated. In the end, if the grade is satisfactory, the participant will be awarded a certificate of accomplishment, or, as a push from Coursera to pay for the free courses, a Verified Certificate.

Personally, to challenge myself during my gap year, I am currently enrolled in 4 MOOCs. They are the above named Dinosaurs 101, Magna Carta and its Legacy, Data Scientist’s Toolkit, and Digging Deeper: Making Manuscripts. Only three of these, though, are through Coursera, the fourth, is created and hosted by the good people at Stanford. So far, my experience with Digging Deeper is very different from the Coursera courses. I am not sure if it is because the topic is more directly relevant to my research or because how it is structured differently, but my enjoyment and learning levels seem to be different.

Stanford’s, or at least the professors’ approach, is somewhat similar to Coursera’s, where the lectures are presented by video. There is a transcript that runs alongside the video, as well as captions on the screen itself. There are mini-quizzes after each short video, to test recall and understanding. There are also, and this is the difference for me, practical exercises. I am also graded on how well I transcript an actual medieval manuscript. Already, after only having done the first week’s worth of material, I feel more confident in approaching a manuscript and attempting to understand it.

If you can, I would suggest signing up for Digging Deeper – it looks to be a promising course!