The History of Leith

October 6, 2011

The Great Michael

by far the largest ship built in Europe in those days (during the reign if James IV, was still on the stocks. The best account we have of this great ship is from the pen of that picturesque old
chronicler, Pitscottie, whose word-pictures are so often credited with owing much to the free play of his imagination. According to Pitscottie, the Great Michael wasted all the woods of Fife except those of Falkland in addition to all the timber that was brought from Norway. Here Pitscottie must have put a great restraint upon his powers of story-telling, for when we examine the account books
we find that he has understated, rather than exaggerated, the amount of timber used in her construction. Not only were supplies of timber sought in all parts of Scotland, but they were also largely imported from the Continent, and especially from France and the Baltic or ” Estland Seys.”
The dimensions of the Great Michael, as given by the same chronicler, were two hundred and forty feet long, thirty-five feet broad, with sides of oak ten feet thick. With such dimensions as these, it is not surprising that she wasted all the woods of Fife, and required in addition many cargoes of timber from Norway and other lands beyond the sea. Besides the timber, much of the other material employed in the construction of this great ship also camefrom the Continent, and chiefly, of course, from thosecountries with which Leith was accustomed to trade most, such as the Low Countries, France, Scandinavia, Denmark, and Poland. We see the enmity between England and Scotland that did so much to hinder their mutual trade in olden times

Source-The Story of Leith

Some Text