The History of Leith

September 6, 2011

Pilrig House,

Pilrig House, as its almost indecipherable lintel tells us, was built in 1638 by Gilbert Kirkwood, the wealthy goldsmith, who was a victim of the terrible plague of 1645. Kirkwood’s picturesque old mansion, the present Pilrig House, succeeded the old peel tower of the Monypennys erected at some time during the fifteenth century. Built on the ridge here, this peel must have been a conspicuous object in the landscape. To their old tower we owe the name Pilrig (the peel on the ridge).
St. Cuthbert’s, in the old pre-Reformation days, had been the church of the Monypennys ; but the Balfours worshipped in South Leith. In its churchyard, in that portion of it set aside for the gentlemen traffickers, they were buried. The family tombstone there, setting forth the virtues, as Catriona has proclaimed the fame, of the second Laird of Pilrig, must have been well known to his descendant, Robert Louis Stevenson, to whom a fine specimen of the sculptor’s art in the maltmen’s ground immediately adjacent may have suggested the name of that uncanny villain, blind Pew, in Treasure Island.

Source-The Story of Leith

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