St Margaret

Queen of Scotland
Other names: 
Queen Margaret of Scotland, Margaret of Wessex
born c. 1046, died 16 November 1093

Margaret was the daughter of Agatha of West Friesland, and Edward, son of the English king, Edmund ‘Ironside’. Margaret married King Malcolm III of Scotland in 1070/1 and the couple had at least six sons and two daughters. Three of their sons became kings of Scots, and one of their daughters, Matilda, married the English King Henry I.

Margaret is known for being a pious and spiritual woman, who devoted her life to good works, and she was eventually canonised. She died in Edinburgh Castle and was buried alongside her husband in Dunfermline Abbey. In 1250 her remains were moved from the Abbey tomb to a shrine in the Lady Chapel there. Her Gospel Book survives in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and a bone is held in the Ursuline convent of St Margaret in Edinburgh.

Margaret reformed the personnel and ‘increased the splendour of the royal palace’. She introduced up-to-date dress and lavish adornment and set up a workshop in her own quarters where needlewomen produced liturgical vestments and fine garments. She established a free ferry (the Queen’s Ferry) across the Firth of Forth for pilgrims travelling north to St Andrews, and strongly influenced the Scottish religious and cultural scene. For example, she introduced reformed ideas of cult and worship, especially at the dynastic centre of Dunfermline, where she founded Holy Trinity with Benedictine monks from Christ Church, Canterbury.

The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women
Entry on St Margaret by Barbara Crawford