History of Leith, Edinburgh

February 14, 2014

The Warlock Laird

The Yardheads originally was the boundary wall or monastic Garth of the Preceptory of St Anthony. but by the time of the story of the Warlock the area had a few scattered cottages, Now in one of these cottages lived a Anthony Gordon and his cottage was exactly the same as all the others in the area except between the back of the cottage and resting on the Garden wall was a tower over fifty feet high with little turrets stuck to it. Unfortunately the building has been demolished which is a pity because it was a remarkable building of its type.

Anthony Gordon came to Leith late in life but nobody was ever able to find out where he came from. On arriving in Leith he began work as a coopers labourer on a very low wage but he worked quietly away until after six months he asked if he could go on holiday for a week and this being granted he disappeared and came back a week later better dressed, fed and with the clink of money in his pockets. The following year again he asked for a weeks holiday and again he came back richer then before. Not only this but he bought a large house in the Rotten Row and this got people talking. One story was that he had been a pirate and he was drawing on a concealed horde the result of many crimes. So when Gordon asked for his annual leave the following year he was followed to see where he went. At first he went drinking in Kirkcaldy and had a party and then Gordon just loitered in the town talking to the boatmen. Eventually he took a boat and he was followed and the trail ended near North Berwick at Dirleton and it was at this point that the Leith Detective saw an amazing sight of what looked like two giants digging into the ground. At least this was the report and Gordon’s return was anticipated with some curiosity and in time he duly returned and handed in his notice to the Cooper. He then bought all the buildings in the Broad Wynd and people whispered he wasn’t a pirate but had sold his soul to the devil.

The fear was real and people wanted to give up their tenancies but then withdraw their applications because of the shortage of property. It was at this point that Anthony Gordon was seen with a tall, dark man who said nothing but seemed to control everything that Gordon did. It is not known who this man was however the pair really caused as much trouble as was possible for their tenants. Eventually the poor tenants came to the tower in Yardheads to pay there rent and were ushered into a large room. When suddenly Gordon rushed in pursued by the dark stranger and dragged into another room and screams were heard. The tenants took to their heals in fright and ran. They later testified to smelling sulphur and that they saw Gordon being dragged into a hole in the ground which then sealed itself. The Tower itself had collapsed and whatever happened to Gordon he was never again seen in Leith. It was believed for many years that he had indeed sold his soul to the devil and at the end wasn’t able to escape the dreadful bargain.

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