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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


LEITH, AND THE NEW TOWN. 367 every vestige of them was swept away by General Monk when constructing the Citadel of Leith, soon after Cromwell took possession of the town.’ The fortifications which were reared under the directions of the Republican General, are thus described in the Itinerary of the learned John Ray, who visited Scotland in 1661 :- ‘‘ At Leith we saw one of those citadels, built by the Protector, one of the best fortifications that ever we beheld, passing fair and sumptuous. There are three forts advanced above the rest, and two platforms ; the works round about are faced with freestone towards the ditch, and are almost as high as the highest buildings within, and withal thick and substantial. Below are very pleasant, convenient, and well-built houses for the governor, officers, and soldiers, and for magazines and stores. There is also a good capacious chapel, the piazza, or void space within, as large as Trinity College [Cambridge] great conrt.” This valuable stronghold, which was reared at the cost of upwards of %100,000 sterling, fell a sacrifice, soon after the Restoration, to the cupidity of the Monarch, and the narrow-minded jealousy of the Town Council of Edinburgh, It was demolished, and its materials sold.’ We have given, in a previous chapter, a view of the only fragment of it that still remains ; and have there pointed out how extensive have been the encroachments effected on the old rJea beach of late years. Not only can citizens remember when the spray of the sea billows was dashed by the east wind against the last relic of the Citadel that now stands so remote from the rising tide, but it is only about sixty years since a ship was wrecked upon the adjoining beach, and went to pieces there, while its bowsprit kept beating against the walls of the Citadel, at every surge of the rolling waves that forced it higher on the Of the earlier fortifications of the town of Leith scarcely a fraapent now remains, although they were unquestionably of a much more substantial nature than either of the walls that were constructed for the defence of the neighbouring capital. The capabilities of Leith as a stronghold, which could command a ready intercourse with friendly allies even when assailed by a hostile army, were first perceived by Monsieur D’Esse, the French General, who arrived in the Firth of Forth in the summer of 1548, bringing powerful reinforcements to the aid of the Queen Regent against the English invaders.‘ Under the direction of the French General, the port of Leith was speedily enclosed within formidable ramparts, constructed according to the most approved principles of military science then known on the Continent; as was proved by their successful defence during the siege of 1560, when the ramparts reared to repel an invading army came, under the strange vicissitudes of civil war, to be maintained by foreign arms against the whole native force, mustered, with more alacrity than skill, by the Lords of the CONGREGATIONA. large and strong bastion, which bore the name of Ramsay’s Fort, was constructed immediately to the north of the King’s Work, at the foot of Bernard Street, for the defence of the harbour ; from thence the ramparts extended, in a south-easterly direction, to the site now occupied by the Exchange buildings, where the remains of the second bastion existed about forty 1 Ante, p. 97. “The Council unanimously understood, that the Kirk of the Citadel1 [of Leith], and all that is therein, both timber, seats, steeple, stone, aud gkwork, be made use of and used to the best avail for reparation of the Hospital Chapel, and ordains the Treasurer of the Hospital to see the samen done with all conveniency.”-Excerpt from the recorda of Heriot’s Hospital, April 7, 1673. ’ Campbell’s Est. of Leith, p. 303. Auk, p. 63.
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368 lMEM0RIAL.Y OF EDINBURGH. years since. These consisted of a narrow mound of earth of considerable height, which stood on the outskirts of the open common or Links of Leith, from the top of which a beautiful aud extensive view was commanded on every side. There was an ascent to these remains of the ancient bastion by means of a flight of stone stairs ; and from the promenade being long a favourite resort on account of the view which it afforded, it was generally known by the name of the ‘‘ Lady’s Walk.” From this point the walls extended nearly in a line with Constitution Street, diverging on either Bide towards the central bastion of the east wall, which projected considerably beyond the others, and crossing the line of street obliquely towards the south-west corner of St Mary’s CLnrchyard. The chief gate of the town was St Anthony’s Port, where the walls intersected. the Kirkgate ; and beyond this point no vestige of them has remained since the middle of the sixteenth century, although they extended thence to the river, and were continued on the opposite side, so as to enclose the more modern suburb that formed the nucleus of North Leith. No sooner was the treaty concluded which put an end to the siege of Leith, in 1560, than the fortifications that had been reared with so much labour and skill were ordered to be razed to the ground ; the Council of the kingdom and the Magistrates of Edinburgh being too keenly impressed with a sense of their mischievous effects in the hands of an enemy, to appreciate the value of a stronghold as one of the keys of the kingdom, which had baffled the united forces of England and Scotland to compel its surrender. The following is the order of the Council, issued at Edinburgh the 2d July 1560, commanding their immediate demolition :-‘( Forsameikle as it is noturlie knawyn how hurtful the fortifications of Leith hes bene to this haille realme, and in specialle to the townes next adjacent thairunto, and how prejudicial1 the samen sall be to the libertie of this haille countrie in caiss straingears sall at any tyme hereafter ’intruse thameselfs thairin : For thir and siclyke considerations the counsall has thocht expedient, and chargis the provest, baillies, and counsall of Edinburgh, to tak order with the town and commentie of the samen, and causs and compel1 thame to appoint ane sufficient nomar to cast down and demolish the south pairt of the said town, begynand at Sanct Anthones Port, and passing westward to the Water of Leith, making the block-hous and courteine equal with the ground.” In obedience to this order, the whole of the fortifications facing Edinburgh appear to have been immediately levelled with the ground. Those on the east, however, remained long after nearly entire. They are represented in a perfect state, extending uninterruptedly from Bernard’s Nook to the point of intersection at the Kirkgate, in a plan of Leith by Captain Greenville Collins, dedicated to Sir James Pleming, who was Provost of Edinburgh in 1681 ; and considerable remains of them were only cleared away in opening up Constitution Street and the neighbouring approaches about fifty years since. To the westward of Leith lies the ancient village of Newhaven, or Our Lady’s Port of Grace, as it was termed of old. It originated in the general impetus given to trade and commerce during the prosperous reign of James IV. Owing to the depth of water, a yard and dock were erected there for shipbuilding, and a harbour constructed for the reception of vessels, from whence it received the name of Newhaven. A chapel was soon afterwards erected, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St James ; considerable remains of which may still be traced in the ancient cemetery of the village, consisting chiefly of rude but massive rubble walls. The jealousy of the citizens of Edinburgh, however, stepped in to
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