The History of Leith

January 20, 2012

George Buchanan, the historian and poet,

Blair Street, and Hunter’s Square, which was built in 1788, occasioned the removal of more than one old alley that led down southward to the Cowgate, among them were Marlin’s and Peebles’ Wynds, to which we shall refer when treating of the North and South Bridges. The first tenement of the former at the right corner, descending, marks the site of Kennedy’s Close, on the first floor of
the first turnpike on the left hand, wherein George Buchanan, the historian and poet, died in his 76th year, on the morning of Friday the 28th of September, 1582, and from whence he was borne
to his last home in the Greyiriars’ churchyard. The last weeks of his life were spent, it is alleged, in the final correction of the proofs of his history, equally remarkable for its pure Latinity and for its partisan spirit He survived its appearance only a month. When on his death-bed, finding that all the money he had about him was insufficient to defray the expense of his funeral, he ordered his servant to divide it among the poor, adding ” that if the city did not choose to bury him they might let him lie where he was.”
The site of his**grave is now unknown, though a ” throchstone ” would seem to have marked it so lately as 1710. A skull, believed to be that of Buchanan, is preserved in the Museum of the University, and is so remarkably thin as to be transparent; but the evidence in favour of the tradition, though not conclusive, does not render its truth improbable. From the Council Records
in 1701, it would seem that Buchanan’s gravestone had sunk into the earth, and had gradually been covered up.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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