The History of Leith

September 28, 2012

The place for holding tournaments, open-air plays, and revels

In the low valley which skirts the north-eastern
base of Calton hill, was the place for holding
tournaments, open-air plays, and revels.
In 1456 King James II. granted under his
great seal, in favour of the magistrates and community
of the city and their successors for ever,
the valley and low ground lying betwixt the rock
called Cragingalt on the east, and the common
way and passage on the west (now known as Greenside)
for performing thereon tournaments, sports,
and other warlike deeds, at the pleasure of the
king and his successors. This grant was dated
at Edinburgh, i3th of August, in presence of the
Bishops of St. Andrews and Brechin, the Lords
Erskine, Montgomery, Darnley, Lyle, and others.
This place witnessed the earliest efforts of the
dramatic muse in Scotland, for many of those pieces
in the Scottish language by Sir David Lindesay,
such as his ” Pleasant Satyre of the Three Estaits,”
were acted in the play field there, ” when weather
served,” between 1539 and 1544; but in consequence
of the tendency of these representations to
expose the lives of the Scottish clergy, by a council
of the Church, held at the Black Friary in March,
1558, Sir David’s books were ordered to be burned
by the public executioner.
” The Pleasant Satyre ” was played at Greenside,
in 1544, in presence of the Queen Regent, ” as is
mentioned,” says Wilson, ” by Henry Charteris, the
bookseller, who sat patiently nine hours on the
bank to witness the play. It so far .surpasses any
effort of contemporary English dramatists, that it
renders the barrenness of the Scottish muse in
this department afterwards the more apparent.”

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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