The History of Leith

March 21, 2011

The Siege of Edinburgh Castle-Part 2

All these guns opened simultaneously on Sunday, the 17th of May, by salvoes; and the shrieks of the women in the Castle were distinctly heard in the camp of the Regent and in the city. The fire was maintained on both sides with unabated vigour—nor were the arquebuses idle—till the 23rd, when Sutton’s guns having breached Davtd’s Tower, the enormous mass, with all its guns and men, and with a row as of thunder, came crashing over the rocks, and masses of it must have fallen into the loch soo feet below. The Gate
Tower with the portcullis and Wallace’s Tower, were battered down by the I4th, The guns of the queen’s garrison were nearly silenced now, and cries of despair were heard. The great square Peel and the Constable’s tower, with the curtain between, armed with brass cannon—edifices of great antiquity—came crashing down in succession, and their debris choked up the still existing drawwells. Still the garrison did not quite lose
heart, until the besiegers got possession of the Spur, within which was the well on which the besieged depended chiefly for water. This great battery then covered half of the Esplanade. Holioshcd mentions another spring, St Margaret’s Well, from which Kirkcaldy’s men secretly obtained water till the besiegers poisoned it! By this time
the survivors were so exhausted by toil and want of food as to be scarcely able to bear armour, or work the remaining guns. On the z8th Kirkaldy requested a parley by beat of dram, and was lowered over the ruins by ropes in his armour, to arrange a capitulation; but Morton would hear of nothing now save an unconditional surrender, so the red flag of defiance was pulled down on the following day. By the Regent’s order the Scottish
companies occupied the breaches, with orders to exclude all Englishmen. “The governor delivered his sword to Sir William Drury on receiving the ‘solemn assurance of being restored to his estates and liberty at the intercession of Queen Elizabeth The remnant of his garrison marched into the city in armour with banners displayed; there came
forth, with the Lord Home, twelve knights, 100 soldiers, and ten boys, with several ladies, induding the Countess of Argyll.” The brave commander was basely delivered up by Drury to the vindictive power of the Regent; and he and his brother Sir James, with two burgesses of the city,were drawn backwards in tarts to the market cross, where they were hanged, and their heads;were placed upon the ruined castle walls. Within
the latter were found twenty-two close carts for ammunition, and 2,400 cannon balls.
The whole garrison were thrust into the dungeons! of adjacent castles in the county; and four soldiers—Glasford, Stewart, Moflat, and Millar—”declared traitors” for having assisted Kirkaidy “in the demolishing and casting down of the bigginis, sbowting great and small peissis, without fear of God or remorse of conscience.” had to do public
penance at one of the doors of St. Giles’s for three days “cleid in sack cleith.”*
The Regent made his brother, George Douglas of Parkhead (one of the assassins of Rizzio),governor, and he it was who built the present halfmoon battery, and effected other repairs, so that a plan still preserved shows that by 1575 the fortress had in addition thereto eight distinct towers, facing the town and south west, armed by forty
pieces of cannon, exclusive of Mons Meg, arquebusses, and cut-throats. Over the new gate Morton placed, above the royal arms, those of his own family, a fact which was not forgotten when he lost his head some years after.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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