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Leith Links, artillery mounds

A Scheduled Monument in Leith, City of Edinburgh

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Latitude: 55.97 / 55°58'12"N

Longitude: -3.1626 / 3°9'45"W

OS Eastings: 327531

OS Northings: 675837

OS Grid: NT275758

Mapcode National: GBR 8V7.WD

Mapcode Global: WH6SM.D67M

Entry Name: Leith Links, artillery mounds

Scheduled Date: 5 April 1952

Last Amended: 11 December 2002

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1195

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: artillery mount

Location: Edinburgh

County: City of Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: Leith

Traditional County: Midlothian


The monument comprises two grassed-over mounds, traditionally identified as the remains of artillery mounts dating to the Siege of Leith in 1560. The mounds are situated in Leith Links, in that area of the park bounded by Duncan Place to the W, East Hermitage Place to the S and Links Gardens to the E. The mounds were originally scheduled in 1952 but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present re-scheduling rectifies this.

In 1560 English and Scottish Protestant troops besieged the fortifications of Leith that were then held by the Catholic French supporters of Mary of Guise, the Queen-Regent. The mounds are thought to be part of these siege works, namely the gun positions, or artillery mounts, of Somerset and Pelham of the English army. There is some dispute over this tradition, although the mounds are clearly artificial. In particular, the W mound, traditionally known as 'Giant's Brae', may in fact be a prehistoric burial mound, a premise based on its scale, profile and the associations between its traditional name and that of confirmed prehistoric ritual and funerary monuments.

The W mound, named 'Giant's Brae' or 'Somerset's Battery (remains of)', is almost circular in plan, steep-sided and has a flat top in profile. The top of the mound may have been levelled at some time, possibly to accommodate a flagstaff that used to be in place here, as recorded on earlier 20th-century Ordnance Survey maps. The mound has maximum dimensions of 46.5m N-S by 37m W-E overall and stands up to 3m high. The top of the mound measures some 15.3m by 15.9, with an indent on the N side. Two concrete patches on top of the mound, one with the remains of an iron pin in it, probably relate to the flagstaff. A small modern concrete plinth, with a metal plaque reading 'Giant's Brae - Remains of Somerset's Battery of 1560 - site of the English Artillery in the "Siege of Leith", lies adjacent to the path to the E of the mound. The mound is flanked by footpaths and trees.

The E mound, named 'Lady Fife's Brae' or 'Pelham's Battery (remains of)', lies some 250m E of 'Giant's Brae'. It is an elongated kidney shape in plan and has more gently sloping sides than the W mound. The mound stands up to 2m high. Its top surface undulates and does not appear to have been levelled. The E mound measures up to 45m across (including the grassy 'ramps' visible around the mound, particularly leading off it to the S) by about 36m. Its top surface measures about 22m by 11m. The mound is flanked by modern footpaths. A small modern concrete plinth, with a metal plaque reading 'Lady Fyfe's Brae Remains of Pelham's Battery of 1560', lies adjacent to the path to the W of the mound.

The two areas to be scheduled include the two mounds and an area around them in which remains relating to their construction and use may be expected to survive. The westernmost area is almost circular with maximum dimensions of 48m W-E by 50m N-S. The easternmost area is roughly oval and measures 58m SW-NE by 48m NW-SE. The two areas are marked in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the surfaced footpaths and the concrete interpretation plinths to allow for their routine maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because of its historical associations and its potential to provide important information about 16th'century siege works and the War of Reformation in Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monument is recorded in the RCAHMS as NT 27 NE 11 and NT 27 NE 12.


Harris, S. (1992) 'The fortifications and siege of Leith: a further study of the map of the siege in 1560' Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot. 121 1991, 359-368.

RCAHMS (1951) An inventory of the ancient and historic monuments of the city of Edinburgh with the thirteenth report of the Commission Edinburgh, 266, No. 247.

Steer, F. W. (1964) 'A map illustrating the siege of Leith, 1560', Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot. 95, 1961-2, 280-283.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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