The History of Leith

April 4, 2005



THE long piers of Leith are now seaward of the Martello tower, and the battery at the fort is no longer on the seashore, but—owing to the reclamation of land, the erection of the goods and passenger stations of the Caledonian Railway, and the formation beyond these of a marine parade to Anchorfield—is now literally far inland and useless.

This circumstance, coupled with the vast progress made of late years in the science of gunnery and projectiles, led to the construction of the Inchkeith forts for the protection of Leith and of the river; as the chief defences of the seaport
This island stands nearly midway between Leith and Kinghorn, four miles distant from the Martello tower, and is said to take its name from the valiant Scot named Robert, who slew the Danish general at the battle of Camustone or Barrie in Angus, and an obtained from Malcolm II in 1010, the barony of Keith in Lothian, with the office of Marischal of Scotland. It has, however, claims to higher to antiquity, and is supposed to be the care guide of the venerable Bead, and to have been fortified in his time.
Among the anecdotes of St Serf; extracted by Pinkerton from the Chronicles of Winton, a Canon by Regular of St. Andrews who lived in the end of the 14th century or beginning of the l5th century, mention is made of some matters that are evidently fabulous—that the saint left Rome, and embarking of for Britain, in the sixth century, with a hundred men, landed on this island, where he was visited by St. Adamnan, with whom he went to Fife.
Inchkeith is half a mile in length and about the a eighth of a mile in breadth. Throughout its surface is very irregular and rocky, but in many places it produces the richest herbage, well suited for the pasturage of cattle and horses; yet there are no animals on it, except grey rabbits, and Norwegian rats brought thither by the Leith shipping. Near the middle of the island, rather towards its northern end, it rises gradually to the height of 180 feet above the level of the river, and thereon the well-known lighthouse is erected. ‘The island possesses abundance of springs; the water is excellent, and is collected into a cistern near the harbour, from which the shipping in the Roads is supplied.
From Old and New Edinburgh 1882

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