Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


312 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Arthur?s Seat. to the cone from the base by the way of St. Anthony?s Well, for a wager, in fifteen minutes, on a hot summer?s day-a feat in which he was timed by the eminent naturalist William Smellie. In 1828 the operations connected with the railway tunnel, under the brow of the columnar mass of basalt known as Samson?s Ribs, commenced, and near to the springs so well known in tradition as the Wells of Wearie. Close by these wells, and near a field named Murder Acre, in May the work- In 1843 the sum 0Cit;40,000 was paid to Thomas Earl of Haddington, for the surrender of his office of Hereditary Keeper of the Royal Park, and thereafter extensive improvements were carried out under the supervision of the Commissioners for Woods and Forests. Among these not the least was the Queen?s Drive, which winds round the park, passes over a great diversity of ground from high to low, slope to precipice, terrace to plateau, and commands a panorama second to none in DUDDINGSTON CHURCH (EXTERIOR). men came upon three human skeletons, only three and a half feet below the surface of the smooth green turf. As a very large dirk was found near one of them, they were conjectured to be the remains of some of Prince Charles?s soldiers, who had died in the camp on the hill. The U Wells,? are the theme of more than one Scottish song, and a very sweet one runs thus :- #?And ye maun gang wi? me, my winsom Mary Grieve ; There is nought in the world to fear ye ; To gang to the Wells 0? Wearie. Nor tinge your white brow, my dmrie ; By the lanesome Wells 0? Wearie.? For I have asked your minnie, and she has $en ye leave, ? Oh, the sun winna blink in your bonnie blue een, For I will shade a bower wi? rashes lang and green, Europe. All the old walls which had intersected the park in various places, in lots as the Hamilton family had rented it off for their own behoof, were swept away at this time, together with the old powder magazine in the Hause, a curious little edifice having a square tower like a village church ; and during these operations there was found at the base of the craigs one of the most gigantic boulders ever seen in Scotland. It was blown up by gunpowder, and, by geologists, was alleged to have been tom out of the Corstorphine range during the glacial period. Among the improvements at this time may be included the removal, in 1862, and re-erection (in the northern slope of the craigs) of St. Margaret?s
Volume 4 Page 312
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures
Well from Restalrig, where it had been all hut buried under the workshops of the North British Railway ; but now a limpid perennial rill from the Craigs flows into its ancient basin, the Gothic archway to which is closed by an open iron gate. The old solitude and amenity of the Hunter's Bog, after 1858, were destroyed by the necessary erection of four rifle ranges, two of 300 yards, and two of 600 yards, for the use of the garrison and DUDDINGSTON CHURCH (INTERIOR). volunteers, and the construction of two unornamental powder magazines. The danger signal is always hoisted in !he gorge known as the Hause ; the rocky ridge named the Dasses overlooks these ranges on the east. Leaving the Echoing Rock, an isolated eminence, and following the old road round the hill, under Samson's Ribs, a superb range of pentagonal greenstone columns sixty feet long by five in dkmeter, the Fox's Holes, and the rugged stony slope named the Sclyvers, we come to a lofty knoll named the Girnel Craig, and another named the Hangman's Craig or Knowe, from the following circumstance. About the reign of Charles II., the office of public executioner was taken by a reduced gentleman, the last member of an old 88 reprobate could not altogether forget his former tastes and habits. He would occasionally resume the garb of a gentleman, and mingle in the parties of citizens who played at golf in the evenings on Bruntsfield Links. Being at length recognised, he was chased from the ground with shouts of execration and loathing, which affected him so much that he retired to the solitude of the King's Park, and was next day found dead at the bottom of a precipice, over which he is supposed to have thrown himself in despair. The rock was afterwards called the Hangman's Grae." The deep gorge between it and the Sclyvers is named the Windy Goule, and through it winds the ancient path that leads direct to the hamlet of Duddingston, which, with the loch of that name,'
Volume 4 Page 313
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures