The History of Leith

November 8, 2006

The treasure Seeker-A Legend of St Anthony’s

The area where St Anthony’s Preceptory was situated is very rich in myth and legend. This particular story is not well known. If you look at the Petworth Map you will see a building variously called the Block House of St Anthony or as St Anthony Steeple.

According to Wodrow, Lord Grey de Wilton talks about St Anthony’s steeple during the Siege of Leith in 1560 and that this was the place that the French had mounted their canon. It was this structure that was destroyed and not the Preceptory itself the Block House and the Preceptory being two separate buildings.

In fact the building was made level to the ground however it had extensive cellars or vaults which survived and it was here that Walter Oliphant took up his residence soon after unknown to anyone. He never left until after dark and any attempt to follow him failed. There were even attempts to break into the vault which all failed and the more courageous were put of by the snarling of a vicious dog from behind the door. Then the stories started to spread of diabolical orgies taking place which of course was confirmed by the noise coming from under the ground. Gradually the stories grow larger and larger and an investigation into these strange happenings was going to be done by the Church and the Civil Authorities was going to be brought in. However before this could happen the sound of a tremendous crash was heard during the night and the earth shook all around. And on investigating the following the inhabitants found that a large Mansion which stood beside the Blockhouse had disappeared into the earth and on digging down they discovered the dead body of a women and a child quite alright and fast asleep and William Oliphant. The woman had been his wife and the child was his He explained that he and his family had come from Ayr and both he and his wife dreamt that they had come into a lot of money and that it was buried within the old Blockhouse of St Anthony. The dream repeated itself over and over again and so this convinced him to come to Leith to search for it. He wanted his plan to be kept quite and only a friend who lived in the Broad Wynd knew anything about it. The only problem was that Oliphant was no miner and he accidentally undermined the mansion which caused the collapse of the building.

The expedition to Leith never benefited William Oliphant however it is an recorded fact that his descendant John Oliphant his great Grandson became a wealthy man, and magistrate for leith in 1668/9, which because he had no family his wealth reverted to relatives living in the West.

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