Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


Wton Hill.] THE BURGH OF CALTON. 103 r beneath the Caltoun Hill, the .place where those imaginary criminals, witches, and sorcerers in less enlightened times were burned ; and where at festive seasons the gay and gallant held their tilts and tournaments.? On the north-westem shoulder of the hill stands the modern Established Church of Greenside, at the end of the Royal Terrace, a conspicuous and attractive feature among the few architectural decorations of that district. Its tower rises IOO feet above the porch, is twenty feet square, and contains a bell of 10 cwt. The main street of the old barony of the Calton was named, from the ancient chapel which stood there, St. Ninian?s Row, and a place so called still exists; and the date and name ST. NINIAN?S Row, 1752, yet remains on the ancient well. 01 old, the street named the High Calton, was known as the Craig End. In those days?a body existed known as the High Constables of the Calton, but the new Municipality Act having extinguished the ancient boundaries of the city, the constabulary, in 1857, adopted the following resolution, which is written on vellum, to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland :- ? The district of Calton, or Caldton, formed at one time part of the estate.of the Elphinstone family, one of whom-% James, third son of the third Lord Elphinstone-was created Lord &Imerino in 1603-4 In 1631 the then Lord Balmerino granted a charter to the trades of Calton, constituting them a society or corporation ; and in 1669 a royal charter was obtained from Charles II., erecting the district into a burgh of barony. A court was held by a bailie appointed by the lord of the manor, and there was founded in . connectiontherewith, the Societyof Highconstables of Calton, who have been elected by, and have continued to act under, the orders of succeeding Baron Bailies. Although no mention is made 01 our various constabulary bodies in the ? Municipality Extension Act, 1856,? the venerable office of Baron Bailie has thereby become extinct, and the .ancient burghs of Canongate, Calton, Eastern and Western Portsburgh, are now annexed to the city. UnGer these circumstances the constabulary of Calton held an extraordinary meeting on the 17th of March, 1857, at which, infer alia, the following inotion was carried with acclamation, viz. ? That the burgh having ceased to exist, the con stabulary, in order that some of the relics and other insignia belonging to this body should be preserved for the inspection of future generations, unanimously resolve to present as a free gift to the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Scotland the. following, viz :-Constabulary baton, I 747, moderator? s official baton, marble bowl, moderator?? state staff, silver-mounted horn with fourteefi medals, members? small baton; report on the origin and standing of the High Constables OF Calton, 1855, and the laws of the society, 1847.?? These relics of the defunct little burgh are consequently now preserved at the museum in the Royal Institution. A kind of round tower, or the basement thereof, is shown above the south-west angle of the CaltoE cliffs in Gordon?s view in 1647 ; but of any such edifice no record remains ; and in the hollow where Nottingham Place lies now, a group of five isolated houses, called ? Mud Island,? appears in the maps. of 1787 and 1798. In 1796, and at many other times, the magistrates ordained that ? All-hallowfair be held on the lands of Calton Hill,? as an open and uncnclosed place, certainly a perilous one, for tipsy drovers and obstinate cattle. An agriculturist named Smith farmed the hill and lands adjacent, now covered by great masses of building, for several years, till about the close of the 18th century; and his son, Dr. John Smith, who was born in 1798, died only in February, 1879, afterbeing fifty years physician tQ the old charity workhouse in Forrest Road, . In 1798, when the Rev. Rowland Hill (thefamous son of Sir Rowland Hill, of Shropshire). visited Edinburgh for the first time, he preached in some of the churches every other day, but the crowds became so immense, that at last he was induced to hold forth from a platform erected on the Calton Hili, where his audience was reckoned. at not less than 10,000, and the interest excited by his eloquence is said to have been beyond all precedent. On his return from the West, he preached on the hill again to several audiences,. and on the last of these occasions, when a collection, was made for the charity workhouse, fully zo,oom were present. Long years after, when speaking to a. friend of the multitude whom he had addressed, there, he said, pleasantly, ? Well do I remember the spot ; but I understand that it has now been converted into a den of thieves,? referring to the gaol now built on the ground where his platform stood. The first great cba,nge in the aspect of the hill was effected by the formation of the Regent Road, which was cut through the old burying-ground, the soil of which avenue was decently carted away, covered with white palls, and full of remnants of humanity, to the new Calton burying-ground on] the southern slope ; and the second was the open
Volume 3 Page 103
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print