History of Leith, Edinburgh

November 17, 2007

The Siege of Leith or “The Schole of Warre”

The “Schole of Warre is a poem written by Thomas Churchyard who came to Leith in 1560 with the English army and goes on for eighty verses.

Detailing the various skirmishes which took place between the besiegers and the besieged. The historical information is accurate however whether or not historical information should be put as a poem I leave the reader to decide. I will pass over the first twenty nine verses and will give verses 30 and 31.

“In shot of Leith within Lestaricke, than
We pitcht our camp, where canons cabins brake
And oft, by chance it kild a horse or man
But no man would the camps therefore forsake
Such tennis-balls did keep men awake
And quicken those that are dull spirited souls
And make some ladda to digge them depe in holes

To save the ward from harms of enmayes shot
Ful many a trenche did Pellam cause be wrought
Loke what wasmete there was few things forgot
Our power so small by every way we sought
To kepe the same but that availed nought
Some were so rude they run their death to seek
So this decreasit our number euery weeke”

In these two verses is the opening engagement of the Siege of Leith. Sometimes known as the Battle of Hawkhill which lies only a short distance from Leith and next to Restalrig (Lestaricke). The French attacked and a vicious battle ensued and many were killed. The French were driven back into Leith. However these skirmishes took place throughout the siege with the French winning most of them. The French lost the Siege of leith simply because of the lack of supplies as Leith was besieged by ships under Lord Winter. Not only this but Lord Winter had driven of the French navy which was destroyed of the Danish coast..

The name Restalrig comes from the original family which held Leith in the 12th century the de Lestalric’s who held Leith until 1385 when with the death of Sir de Lestalric and the marriage of Catherine de Lestalric to Sir Robert Logan the property was taken over by the Logan family, the French were driven back and the English Commander Lord Grey made his headquarters at Restalrig.

Pellam was one of the English Officers in charge of the Cannon. To this day you will see two hills on Leith Links with plaques beside them saying that they are Elizabethan gun mounds. Which they are not . However a few yards from the so called Mount Pellam under Hermitage Place was the right Mount Pellam which wasn’t a hill but a mini fort of about one and a quarter acres and carried a number of cannon.

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