The History of Leith

May 31, 2004

The History of Wardie, Trinity and Granton cont’d

In the “Old Statistical account” we find it stated that there are appearances of coal on the sea side, in the adjacent part of Royston and Wardie both above and below the water line. At times of scarcity the poor carried this coal away to. There was even a pit sunk at Pilton wood in 1788 but was soon abandoned due to inferiority of the coal found. In the links at Royston can be seen the remains of ancient coal working.

The Historian Bower mentions that a great Italian “Carrick” (meaning a ship) was sunk on the rocks at Granton in October 1425. In the 19th century Italian coins were found possibly from this wreck.

It was at Granton that the English army landed in 1544 and from where they began their marched on Leith. From an account written at the time by the Rt Hon.Lord Russell in his “Expedition in Scotland” he wrote (in a modernised version).

“That night the whole fleet came to anchor under the Island of Inchkeith three miles from the houses of Leith. The place where we anchored hah long been called the English Road; the Scots now taken this to be a prophecy of the thing which has happened. The next day 4th May the army landed two miles west of Leith at a place called Granton Craig, everyman being so prompt that the army was landed in four hours. As there was no opposition a circumstance unlooked for and having guides we put ourselves in good order for war. Marching towards Leith in three columns with the lord Admiral in the vanguard, the Earl of Shrewsbury commanded the rear guard; The Earl of Hertford commanded the centre with the artillery. In a valley to our right of the said town the Scots had assembled a force of 5-6000 horse not counting infantry and had placed artillery on our line of march. However seeing that they were crossing a ford the Scots abandoned their guns and fled back to Edinburgh along with the Cardinal (Beaton), Huntly, Murray, and Bothwell”

By this time Granton became famous for its freestone and this is mentioned in the City Treasures accounts of 1552-3 we read of half a ell (about 18inches) of velvet given to the Laird of Carube for “licence to wyn stones on his lands of Granton to the schoir for the hale space of a year”

In 1579 a ship called the “Jonas of Leith” perished in a storm upon the rocks at Granton having blown from her anchorage. Upon hearing this the burgesses of Edinburgh brought an action against her owner Virgil Kene of leith for the value of the goods lost in the said ship. However he was able to argue that it was an “Act of God” and matter was remitted to the admiral and his deputes. What the outcome of the case was is not known. To be cont’d

Old entrance to Royston (Now Caroline Park) 1851

Granton Harbour and Pier mid 19th century

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