The History of Leith

July 16, 2011

Robert Ballantyne’s Bridge

In 1493 Robert Ballantyne, abbot of Holyrood, “with the consent of his chapter and the approbation of William, Archbishop of St. Andrews1,” first spanned the river by a solid stone bridge, thus connecting South and North Leith, holding the right of levying a toll therefor. It was a bridge of three arches, of which Lord Eldin made a sketch in 1779, and part of one of the piers of which still remains. Abbot Ballantyne also built a chapel thereby, and in his charter it is expressly stated, after enumerating the tithes and tolls of the bridge, ” that the stipend of each of the two incumbents is to be limited to fifteen merks, and after the repairs of the said bridge and chapel, and lighting the same, the surplus is to be given to the poor.”
This chapel was dedicated to St. Ninian the apostle of Galloway, and the abbot’s charter was confirmed by King James IV. on the ist June, 1493. He also established a range of buildings on the south side of the river, a portion of which, says Robertson, writing in 1851, “still exists in the form of a gable and large oven, at the locality generally designated “the Old Bridge End”

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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