The History of Leith

November 28, 2012

Stores for the Castle

The early struggle against England is rather an
obscure period of Scotland’s history, and but for the
immediate neighbourhood of the mighty fortress of
Edinburgh Castle, which was strongly held for England
until the year of Bannockburn, and which dominated and
held in subjection the whole neighbourhood,, Leith might
have dropped out of the history of this time altogether;
but, as it is, it bulks more largely, if less romantically,
than Edinburgh itself in the story of those stirring and
chivalrous days.
No sooner did the English garrison take up its quarters
in Edinburgh Castle than English ships began to arrive in
Leith harbour with large supplies of all kinds, the various
items of which show us that grains and wines were
then, as with us to-day, among the chief imports. These
stores, many of which came from Berwick under the
protection of the traitor Earl of Dunbar, who was ever
on the side of England, included wheat, barley, malt,
meal and wines, munitions of war, and ” Eastland
boards ” for the manufacture of Edward I.’s great war
machines.
Many of these stores were reshipped in smaller craft
for the English garrisons at Stirling, Clackmannan, and
other places of strength farther up the Forth. In 1303,
for example, an engine capable of throwing missiles weighing
one hundredweight was sent with munitions from
Edinburgh Castle to Edward I., who had been for three
months baffled in the capture of Stirling Castle by the
vigilance and skill of that gallant knight and near
neighbour to the Leith folks of those days, Sir William
Oliphant of Muirhouse, just beyond Pilton.
For the protection of these stores a detachment from
the Castle garrison was posted in Leith, no doubt in some
fort on the Shore near the Broad Wynd, the seaward
limit of the town in those days. There were no great
docks in Leith at this time, with their miles of stone
quays. The Shore, which extended as far as the present
Broad Wynd, was then the only quay for the loading
and discharging of vessels.

source-The Story of Leith

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