History of Leith, Edinburgh

February 14, 2014

The ghostly Cooper

The Town of Leith has many strange and ghostly tales connected to it and the strangest is the story of the Ghostly cooper.

If you travel back in time several centuries you will find a completely different Leith. Opposite the Church of St Mary’s (or South Leith parish Church as it is now) stood the massive Preceptory of St Anthony.

Now the monks of the Preceotory were entlted to a scots quart ( a imperial English Gallon) out of every tun of wine coming into leith. They could use it as they wished or they could sell the rest to help the poor.

Considering Leith was the largest importer of wine outside of London there stock of wine was very large and kept in wine vaults.

Now one of the jobs connected to the the vaults was the employment of a cooper making and repairing casks

Now after a time the monk who kept the accounts of the preceptory found that a great deal of wine was missing and suspicion fell on the cooper Henry Douglas. But when questioned he said he knew nothing about.

That was how things stood until the hermit of St Anthony paid a visit to the preceptory. He was told about the missing wine and he decided to question the cooper. Again the cooper denied everything. But the hermit wouldn’t accept that. Henry Douglas in his anger said “I don’t know anything about it, I swear I know nothing. And if I am telling a lie, may I never head this cask. The hermit looked at him and said amen, and may it please holy St Anthony to grant your prayer. The words hardly out of his month when the cask he was working on feel apart and in a panic he ran into the furthest part of the great vault and was never seen again

However the tap,tap, taping of hammer was heard and then a groan was heard by the monks when they visited the vaults and for many, many years the Ghostly cooper could be heard. Although there has been no reports recently he could still be there.

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