The History of Leith

December 19, 2011

Ancient defences of Edinburgh

Beneath the Castle ramparts the rising city was now fast increasing; and in 1450, after the battle of Sark, in which Douglas Earl of Ormond defeated the English with great slaughter, it was deemed necessary to enclose the city by walls, scarcely a trace of which now remains, except the picturesque old ruin known as the Well-house Tower, at the base of the Castle rock. They ran along the southern declivity of the ridge on which the most ancient parts of the town were built, and after crossing the West Bow—then deemed the grand entrance to Edinburgh—ran between the High Street and the hollow, where the Cowgate(which exhibited then but a few minor edifices) now stands ; they then crossed the main ridge at the Nether Bow, and terminated at the east end of the North Loch, which was then formed as a defence on the north, and in the construction of which the Royal Gardens were sacrificed. From this line of defence the entire esplanade of the Castle was excluded. ” Within these ancient limits,” says Wilson, ” the Scottish capital must have possessed peculiar means of defence—a city set on a hill and guarded by the rocky fortress, there watching high the least alarms; it only wanted such ramparts, manned by its burgher watch, to enable it to give protection to its princes and to repel the inroads of the southern invader.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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