The Holyrood or Holy Rood is a Christian relic considered to be part of the True Cross on which Jesus died. The word derives from the Old English rood, meaning a cross, or from the Scots haly ruid ("holy cross"). Several relics venerated as part of the True Cross are known by this name, in England, Ireland and Scotland.
Black Rood of Scotland
Saint Margaret (c.1045–1093), a Saxon Princess of England, was born in Hungary. Following the conquest of England by the Normans in 1066, she fled to Scotland, where she married Malcolm III Canmore, King of Scotland. She is said to have brought the "Holy Rood", a fragment of Christ's cross, from Hungary to Scotland with her. It was known as the Black Rood of Scotland, likely for the black case in which it was kept. This relic was removed from Scotland by Edward I of England in 1296, along with the Stone of Scone and other treasures, but the Black Rood was returned in 1328. It was lost to the English again following the battle of Neville's Cross, after which it was held in Durham Cathedral until the Reformation of 1540, when it was presumably destroyed. Recent evidence points to a relic of a black cross held at Rosslyn Chapel.
Holy Cross Abbey
A fragment of the Holy Rood was brought to a Cistercian Abbey in Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland by Isabella of Angoulême, widow of King John of England, and thenceforth the Abbey was called Holy Cross Abbey. The relic was lost following the Cromwellian war in Ireland.
The term is also applied to the black flint cross formerly held at Waltham Abbey in Essex, England. The Holy Rood or Cross was the subject of veneration and pilgrimage in the middle ages, but disappeared when the Abbey was dissolved in 1540.
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