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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Currie.] LENNOX TOWER. 333 The surface of the pond on Harelaw Muir is 802 feet above the level of the sea. One of the chief antiquities of Cume is Lennox Tower, on a high bank overhanging the Water of? Leith, and now called by the rather uncouth name of Lumphoy. It is a massive edifice, measuring externally fifty-five feet by thirty-five, with walls above seven feet in thickness. It is entered by an archway on the north, where the gate was secured by a horizontal bar, the socket of which as cattle were apt to stray into it. The extent of the outer rampart, which goes round the brow of the hill, is given in the ? Old Statistical Account ? as measuring ?304 paces, or 1,212 feet.? It was surrounded by a moat, and there can still be traced the remains of a deep ditch. Though small, it was undoubtedly a place of some strength. Amongst the many conjectures of which it has been the subject, one declares it to have been a hunting-seat of James VI. and a residence of George still remains in the wall. It is all built of polished ashlar; the hall windows are arched, with stone seats within them, and the ascent to the upper storeys has been by a narrow circular stair, part of which still remains within the thickness of the wall, at the north-east angle, the steps of which are only three feet long. It is said, traditionally, to take its name from the Lennox family, to whom it belonged; and the same vague authority assigns it as a residence to Mary and Darnley, and afterwards to the Regent Morton. It occupies very high ground, commandhg a beautiful prospect of the Firth of Forth, and has a subterranean passage to the river, which was Heriot, hy whom it was bequeathed to a daughter, ? from whom, along with the adjacent land, it was purchased by an ancestor of the present proprietor.? It has been alleged that there existed a subterranean communication between it and Colinton Tower, the old abode of the Foulis family; and the common stock story is added that a piper once tried to explore it, and that the sound of his pipes was heard as far as Currie Bridge, where he perished. But people were still living in 1845 who had explored this secret passage for a considerable way. ? It is supposed that the garrison (in war time) secured by this means a clandestine supply of water,
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334 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Cunie. ? for provisions, and the enemy in confident expectation of starving them out,asoldier accidentally caught some fish in his bucket (in the act of drawing water), which the governor boastingly held out in sight of the besiegers. On seeing this unexpected store, the assailants hastily raised the siege, deeming it hopeless to attempt to starve a garrison that was so mysteriously supplied.? It is probable that this episode octurred during the war between the king?s and queen?s party, which culminated in the siege of Edinburgh Castle in 1573. Curriehill Castle, the ancient ruins of which stand on the opposite bank of the Leith, at a little distance, and which was the stronghald and ,for ages the abode of the Skenes, was a place of some note during that war. Among the six chief places mentioned as being fortified and garrisoned in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh are Lennox Tower, on the loyalists? or queen?s side, and Curriehill for the king. In Crawford of Drumsoy?s ?Memoirs of the Affairs of Scotland,? we find the following, under date I572 :- ?The siege of Nidderie-Seaton being raised for the relief of Merchiston, the governor found means to supply his masters at Edinburgh with some corn and about fifty or sixty oxen. Those who guarded the booty mere in their turn taken by the Lairds of Colington and Curryhill, and imprisoned at Corstorphin. This galled the loyalists, lest it should dishearten the governor and garrison of Nidderie; and to let them see how much they rwented the loss, the Lord Seaton was sent out with a hundred horse, who took the Laird of Curryhill out of his own house, and delivered him to the governor. The same day he lighted by chance upon Crawford of Liffnorris, who was coming into Leith, attended with fifty horse, to assist the Associators. These, with their leader, were taken without blows, and were sent next morning to the governor, to keep Curryhill company, but in a day or two were exchanged for those at Corstorphin. Seaton, however, kept the horses to himself, and brought them into Edinburgh loaded with provisions, which he bought at a doubleprice from the country people; nor did the loyalists at any time take so much as one bushel of corn which they did not pay for, though they often compelled the owners to sell it.? Malleny and Baberton, in Cume, are said to have been the property of James VI. ; and Alexander Brand, to whom he gave the latter house, was a favourite of his. Eastward of, Kinleith, at the north-east end of the Pentland range, are the remains of a camp above a pass, through which General Dalyell marched with the Grey Dragoons and other horse to attack the Covenanters at Rullion Green, in 1666. The following is the rofl of the heritors of Currie Parish in 1691 :- Lord Ravelrig. Sir John Maitland of Ravelrig was a senator of the College of Justice, 1689-17 10; afterward fifth Earl of Lauderdale, who early joined the Revolution party. Robert Craig of Riccarton. John Scott of Malleny. Alexander Brand of Baberton Charles Scott of Bavelaw. Lawrence Cunningham of Balerno, whose family William Chiesley of Cockburn. About the niiddle of the last century an English company endeavoured to work the vein of copper ore at Eastmiln, but failing to make it profitable, the attempt was abandoned. Currie was celebrated in former days as the residence of several eminent lawyers ; and, curiously enough, the principal heritors were at one time nearly all connected with the Court of Session. Of these, the most eminent were the Skenes of Curriehill, father and son, said, in the ? Old Statistical Account,? to have been connected with the royal family of Scotland. John Skene of Curriehill came prominently forward as an advocate in the reign of James VI. In the year 1578 he appears in a case before the Privy Council, connected with Hew Campbell of Loudon, and others, as to the Provostship of the town of Ayr, and in the following year as Prolocutor for the magistrates of Stirling, in a case against the craftsmen of that burgh. In the year 1588 he was elected to accompany Sir James Melville of Halhill, the eminent Scottish memorialist, on a mission to the Court of Denmark. ?I told his Majesty? (James VI.), he records, ?that I would chuse to take with me for a lawyer Mr. John Skeen. His Majesty said he judged there were many better lawyers. I said he was best acquainted with the German customs, and could make them long harrangues in Latin, and that he was good, true, and stout, like a Dutchman. Then his Majesty was content that he should go with me.? This mission was concerning the marriage of Anne of Denmark, and about the Orkney Isles. In 1594 Sir John Skene of Curriehill was appointed Lord Clerk Register, and in 1598 he seems to have shared that office with his son James. Three years before that he appears to have been an Octavian-zs the eight lords commissioners, who was for three centuries resident there.
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