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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Inchkeitli.; THE FORTIFICATIONS. 293 - As it was impossible to use carts, donkeys with panniers were employed for the conveyance of light materials. The forts are entirely isolated from the island by a deep ditch, twenty feet broad and as many deep; and, fortunately, the natural contour of the ground selected for the fortifications enabled this to be done with excellent effect; thus each fort can be held and defended by its garrison, even though the island should be in possession of an enemy. ~~ post or old cannon, to form the pivot of the platform of the gun arming the battery-the platform to revolve like a railway turn-table, so that the muzzle of the gun may traverse a very wide area In rear of the gun-platforms are the magazinesthat in the north battery being sunk in the solid rock many feet deep. From each fort access is given to the bottom of the ditch by a covered way ; and from the ditch to the mainland by a flight of steps. INCHKEITH. Generally speaking the exterior slopes of the forts follow the coast lines of the promontories, and the earth of which they are formed was thoroughly compact and rammed down previous to being riveted with sods-stonework never being employed in the external faces of modem fortifications, to preclude the dangerous chance of wounds inflicted by splinters and stone shivers. The parapet walls are of great thickness, and rise about four feet six inches above the floor of the interior of each fort. The interior, in the instance of the north and west batteries, takes a circular form, and the floor is composed of a solid mass of The crest of the west headland was removed, to permit a solid concrete foundation being laid for the gun-platform. By July, 1881, the Inchkeith forts were completed, and ready for being armed with their guns. The three forts mount altogether four guns, and have been constructed at advantageous points, and there can be no fear of an enemy ever cutting off the supply oi water, as it gushes plenteously from the rocks. Each fort covers a space of between half an acre and an acre of ground, and the points chosen for them are of the first strategetical importance. concrete several feet thick. In the centre of this From the shape of the isle they form the points concrete is sunk, in an upright position, an iron of an irregular triangle, and each being in sight of
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294 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Inchkeith. the other, the gamsons could level their united fire in any given direction. The situation of No. 3, or the south-east fort, facing Leith, which is the largest of the whole, and is certainly the strongest, is on a sloping, turfcovered plateau, above the peninsula of rock which ruhs southeastward through the island. It will mount two r8-ton guns, on Moncrieff carriages, and be able to bear upon any vessel coming westward, or attempting to traverse the south or north channels. A formidable ditch . separates the corner in which it stands from the rest of the island, and the summit of the battery is on a level with the ground, from which it has been excavated. After a drawbridge has been crossed, the fort is entered by a strong iron door, leading into a covered way. Here are situated the only two barrack-rooms for troops that have as yet been erected there. In one of these resides a sergeant of the Coast Artillery, and in the other the three gunners under his orders, to superintend the forts in the meanwhile. The guns are placed on granite platforms, in the centre of a circle, formed by a bombproof parapet, and are to be fired ea barbefte over the slope, and not through embrasures, as they are worked on the Moncrieff swivel principle, which permits them to be turned so as to sweep any point within three fourths of a circle. The parapets, which are very massively constructed, have each half a dozen bombproof caseniates, in which the artillerymen who work the guns may seek protection with ease and safety. In a hollow between two of the batteries there has been constructed a bombproof subterranean magazine, in which to store shot, live shell, and cartridges for the service of the guns. The walls and roof of this magazine have been formed of brick, with a thick layer of concrete, and such a deep covering of earth that any attempt from without to blow it up must prove futile. A long stair, winding down into the bowels of the earth, as it were, leads to where the materials of destruction are stored. To preclude any accident which might lead to the explosion of a magazine from within, the subterranean passages which lead to them, and are quite dark, are lighted by a very simple plan. Along the back of the chambers a long passage has been constructed, communication with which is obtained by a private staircase. In this passage are a number of windows, one into each of the chambers, and whenever the batteries should happen to be engaged a man would be sent below to place in each of the windows lighted candles, which would effectually light up the chambers, while the pane of glass would prevent all peril of ignition. The war material is sent up by a lift which opens into the passage, each end of which leads to a battery. Close to each of the latter, and somewhat beneath them, is seen a covered way, facing the sea, loopholed for musketry, in case of the near approach of enemy?s boats. This passage can also be used as a safe cajonnike from one work to another, and as a place for the storage of arms. In short, more perfect batteries of the kind have not as yet been constructed. The whole of No. 3 is embedded, as it were, in the earth, and so closely concealed from view that it can only be discovered by a practised eye. The other two forts are on the bluff headlands of the northern end of the island. That to the northwest, known as No. I Battery, will amply protect the upper portion of the Forth, as it can cover the whole channel down as far as Prestonpans. In construction it is precisely similar to No. 3, but is smaller than the other, having accommodation only for one gun of equal weight and calibre. The third redoubt, which is similar to No. I, and is named ?(No 2, North-east Battery,? occupies the north end of the isle, and in conjunction with the fort on Kinghorn-ness, commands the entire north channeL In July, 1881, a detachment of sixty men of the Royal Artillery was located on the island to receive and plant the four i8-ton guns in their places, and found temporary quarters in tents pitched in a sheltered hollow on the north-west. It was at first contemplated to erect barracks, for the accommodation of a gamson, on the grassy slope at the south side of Inchkeith; plans were propared for this, and the foundations were actually dug, but the usual parsimony of Government in Scottish matters prevailed, and the order was countermanded. To complete the defence of the Forth, the construction of a powerful battery was begun, in unison with the Inchkeith forts, in 1878, on Kinghorn- ness, 150 yards long by 50 broad, with a face to the beach, which at that point runs north-east and south-west at right angles to the face of the north emplacement on Inchke5th. The graves of many Russian seamen, who were buried on the isle when a plague was on board their fleet in the Roads were long visible, and are referred to in the ? Reminiscences ?? of Carlyle. In 1803 the lighthouse was first built upon Inchkeith. It was then a stationary one; b<t in
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