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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Here some stone coffins, or cists, were found by the workmen, when preparing the ground for the - - erection of Oxford Terrace, which f&es the north, and has a most commanding site; and in October, 1866, at the foundations of Lennox Street, which runs southward from the terrace at an angle, four solitary ancient graves were discovered a little below the surface. ?They lay north and south,? says a local annalist, ?and were lined with slabs of undressed stone. The length of these graves was abou! four feet, and the breadth little beyond two feet, so that the bodies must have been buried in a sitting posture, or compressed in some .way. This must have been the case in the short cists or coffins made of slabs of stone, while in the great cists, which were about six feet long, the body lay at full length.? On both sides of the Water of Leith lies Stockbridge, some 280 yards east of the Dean Bridge. Once a spacious suburb, it is now included in the growing northern New Town, and displays a curious mixture of grandeur and romance, with something of classic beauty, and, in more than one quarter, houses of rather a mean and humble character. One of its finest features is the double crescent called St. Bernard?s, suggested by Sir David Wilkie, constructed by Sir Henry Raeburn, and adorned with the grandest Grecian Doric pillars that are to be found in any other edifice not a public one. Here the Water of Leith at times flows with considerable force and speed, especially in seasons of rain and flood. Nicoll refers to a visitation in 1659, when ?the town of Edinburgh obtained an additional impost upon the ale sold in its boundsit was now a full penny a pint, so that the liquor rose to the unheard of price of thirty-two pence Scots, for that quantity. Yet this imposition seemed not to thrive,? he continues superstitiously, ? for at the same instant, God frae the heavens declared His anger by sending thunder and unheard-of tempests, storms, and inundations of water, whilk destroyed their common mills, dams, and warks, to the toun?s great charges and expenses. Eleven mills belonging to Edinburgh, and five belonging to Heriot?s Hospital, all upon the Water of Leith, were destroyed on this occasion, with their dams, water-gangs, timber and stone-warks, the haill wheels of their mills, timber-graith, and haill other warks.? In 1794-5 there was a ?spate? in the river, when the water rose so high that access to certain houses in Haugh Street was entirely cut off, and a mamage party-said to be that of the parents of David Roberts, R.A.-was nearly swept away. In 1821 a coachman with his horse was carried down the stream, and drowned near the gate of Inverleith ; and in 1832 the stream flooded all the low-lying land about Stockbridge, and did very considerable damage. This part of the town annot boast of great antiquity, for we do not find it mentioned by Nicoll in the instance of the Divine wrath being excited by the impost on ale, or in the description of Edinburgh preserved in the Advocates? Library, and supposed to have been written between 1642 and 1651, and which refers to many houses and hamlets on the banks of the Water of Leith, The steep old Kirk Loan, that led, between hedgerows, to St. Cuthbert?s, is now designated Church Lane; where it passed the grounds of Drumsheugh it was bordered by a deep ditch. A village had begun to spring up here towards the end of the seventeenth century, and by the year 1742, says a pamphlet by Mr. C. Hill, the total population amounted to 574 persons. Before the city extended over the arable lands now occupied by the New Town, the village would be deemed as somewhat remote from the old city, and the road that led to it, down by where the Royal Circus stands now, was steep, bordered by hawthorn hedges, and known as ?Stockbrig Brae.? It is extremely probable that the name originated in the circumstance of the first bridge having been built of wood, for which the old Saxon word was sfoke; and a view that has been preserved of it, drawn in 1760, represents it as a structure of beams and pales, situated a little way above where the present bridge stands. In former days, the latter-like that at Canonmills- was steep and narrow, but by raising up the banks on both sides the steepness was removed, and it was widened to double its original breadth. The bridge farther up the stream, at Mackenzie Place, was built for the accommodation of the feuars of St. Bernard?s grounds ; and between these two a wooden foot-bridge at one time existed, for the convenience of the residents in Anne Street. The piers of it are still remaining. St. Bernard?s, originally a portion of the old Dean estate, was acquired by Mr. Walter ROSS, W.S., whose house, a large, irregular, three-storeyed edifice, stood on the ground now occupied by the east side of Carlton Street; and this was the house afterwards obtained by Sir Henry Raeburn, and in which he died. Mr. Ross was a man of antiquarian taste, and this led him to collect many of the sculptured stones from old houses then in the process of demolition in the city, and some of these he built into the house. In front of one projection he built a fine Gothic window, and
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72 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [The Water of Leith. beneath it ? The Triumph of Bacchus,? beautifully executed in white marble. Here, too, was the door-lintel of Alexander Clark, referred to in our account of Niddry?s Wynd. The entrance to the house was latterly where Dean Terrace now begins, at the north end of the old bridge, and from that point up to the height now covered by Anne Street the grounds were tastefully laid out The site of Danube Street was the orchard; the gardens and hot-houses were where St. Bemard?s Crescent ?Oliver Cromwell,? till November, I 788, when Mr, Ross had it removed, and erected, with no smalL difficulty, on the ground where Anne Street is now. ? The block,? says Wilson, ?? was about eight feet high, intended apparently for the upper half of? the figure. ?The workmen of the quarry had prepared it. for the chisel of the statuary, by giving it with the hammer the shape of a monstrous mummy- And there stood the Protector, like a giant in his; THE WATER OF LEITH VILLAGE. now stands. On the lawn was the monument to a favourite dog, now removed, but preserved elsewhere. In the grounds was set up a curious stone, described in Campbell?s ?Journey from Edinburgh? as a huge freestone block, partly cut in the form of a man. It would seem that it had been ordered by the magistrates of Edinburgh in 1659, to form a colossal statue of Oliver Cromwell, to be erected in the Parliament Close, but news came of the Protector?s death just as it was landed at Leith, and the pliant provost and bailies,, finding it wiser to forget their intentions, erected soon after the present statue of Charles 11. The rejected block lay on the sands of Leith, under the cognomen of shroud, frowning upon the city, until the death of Mr. ROSS, when it was cast down, and lay neglected for many years. About 1825 it was again erected upon a pedestal, near the place where it formerly stood; but it was again cast down, and broken up for building purposes.? Close by the site of the house No. 10 Anne Street Mr. Ross built a square tower, about forty feet high by twenty feet, in the shape of a Border Peel which forthwith obtained the name or ?ROSS?S Folly.? Into the walls of this he built all the curious old stones that he could collect. Among them was a beautiful font from the Chapel of St. Ninian, near the Calton, and the four heads which adorned the cross of Edinburgh, and are
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