The History of Leith

May 29, 2012

The great caverns of Hawthornden

Below the house are the great caverns for which
Hawthornden is so famous. They are artificial,
and have been hollowed out of the rock with
prodigious labour, and all communicate with each
other by long passages, and possess access to a
well of vast depth, bored from the courtyard of
the mansion. These caverns are reported by
tradition and believed by Dr. Stukeley to have
been a stronghold of the Pictish kings, and in three
instances they bear the appropriate names of the
King’s Gallery, the King’s Bedchamber, and the
Guard-room ; but they seem simply to have been
hewn out of the solid rock, no one can tell when
or by whom. They served, however, as ample and
secret places of refuge and resort during the destructive
wars between Scotland and England,
especially when the troops of the latter were in
possession of Edinburgh; and, like the adjacent
caves of Gorton, they gave shelter to the patriotic
bands of Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie and
the Black Knight of Liddesdale, and, by tradition,
to Robert Bruce, as a ballad has it:—
” Here, too, are labyrinthine paths
To caverns dark and low,
Wherein, they say, King Robert Bruce
Found refuge from the foe.”

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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