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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


THE Castle Hill,? says Dr. Chambers, ? is partly ? an esplanade, serving as a parade ground for the garrison, and partly a street, the upper portion of that vertebral line which, under the names of Lawnbeen characterised as ? hovels that are a disgrace to Europe.? In lists concerning the Castle of Edinburgh, the first governor appears to have been Thomas de Cancia in I 147 ; the first constable, David Kincaid of Coates House, in 1542 ; and the first State prisoner warded therein Thomas of. Colville in 12 10, for conspiring against William the Lion. We may fittingly take leave of the grand old ?( Archzologia Scotica,? which contains an ? Elegie on the great and famous Blew Stone which lay on the Castle Hill, and was interred there.? On this relic, probably a boulder, a string of verses form , Castle in the fine lines of Burns?s ?Address to Edinburgh ? :- ~ ? There, watching high the least alarms, Thy rough, rude fortress gleams afar; Like some bold ver?ran, grey in arms, And marked with many a seamy scar ; The pond?rous wall and massy bar, Grim rising o?er the rugged rock, Have oft withstood assailing war, And oft repelled th? invader?s shock.? market, High Street, and Canongate, extends to I the doggerel elegy :- Holyrood Palace f but it is with the Esplanade and banks we have chiefly to deal at present. Those who now see the Esplanade, a peaceful open space, 5 10 feet in length by 300 in breadth,with the squads of Highland soldiers at drill, or the green bank that slopes away to the north, covered with beautiful timber, swarming in summer with little ones in care of their nurses, can scarcely realise that thereon stood the ancient Spur, before which so many men have perished RUNIC CROSS, CASTLE BANK. sword in hand, and that it was the arena of so many revolting executions by the axe and stake, for treason, hereay, and sorcery. It lay in a rough state till 1753, when the earth taken from the foundations of the Royal Exchange \vas spread over it, and the broad flight of forty steps which gave access to the drawbridge was buried. The present ravelin before the half-moon was built in 1723 ; but alterations in the level must have taken place prior to that, to judge from ?Our old Blew Stone, that?s His marrow may not be; Large, twenty feet in length His bulk none e?er did Doiir and dief, and run with When he preserved men. Behind his back a batterie Contrived with packs of Let?s now think on, since We ?re in the Castle?s dead and gone, he was, ken ; grief, was, woo, he is gone, view.? The woolpacks evidently refer to the siege of 1689. The Esplanade was impraved in 1816 by a parnpet and railing on the north. and a fea years after by a low mall on the south, strengthened by alternate towers and turrets. A bronze statue of the Duke of York and Albany, K.G., holding his marshal?s b%ton, was erected on the north side in 1839, and a little lower down are two Celtic memorial crosses of remarkable beauty. The larger and more ornate of them was erected in 1862, by the officers and soldiers of the 78th Ross-shire Highlanders, to the memory of their comrades who fell during the revolt in India in 1857-8 j and the
Volume 1 Page 79
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