The History of Leith

May 12, 2011

ST. ANTHONY’S: A MEDIEVAL HOSPITAL.

IN the days when James I. became king, Leith had really hardly attained to the dignity of being called a town. The population at this time could not have exceeded, if it even reached, fifteen hundred. But even in those days Leith was ever extending its bounds. At the beginning of the reign the street known from time immemorial as the Shore did not extend farther than the Broad Wynd. On the stretch of rough waste land beyond this, covered with sand and coarse grass, James I. built his King’s Wark, which occupied all the ground between Broad Wynd and Bernard Street.
While the King’s Wark was extending the Shore seawards, another group of buildings, whose character and purpose were very different, began to rise among the fields and meadows to the south, near where the lands of the Logans met those of the Monypennys of Pilrig.
This was the Hospital of St. Anthony, which, unlike the King’s Wark, has left its own memorial behind it in the form of some of the oldest and most familiar place names in the town. All wanderers in and about the Kirkgate know the St. Anthony district with its several old-time alleys—they can hardly be dignified as streets —to which the famous hermit saint has given his name.

Source-The Story of Leith 1922

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