Old Tollbooth, Edinburgh, Scotland (July 2014)

Old Tollbooth, Edinburgh, Scotland (July 2014)

St. Cuthbert’s Church, Edinburgh, Scotland (July 2014)

St. Cuthbert’s Church, Edinburgh, Scotland (July 2014)

Edinburgh’s Royal Mile (July 2014)

Edinburgh’s Royal Mile (July 2014)

Photos: Covenanters Prison, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh, July 2014.

The Inspiration for Highland Soldiers 1: The Enemy

When I visited here on a previous trip, the following story inspired me to write Highland Soldiers: The Enemy. It appears on a plaque outside the Covenanters’ Prison in Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh, Scotland. Here is the text of the plaque pictured above, which appears to the left of the entrance to Covenanters’ Prison.

Behind these gates lies part of the Greyfriars Kirkyard which was used in 1679 as a prison for more than one thousand supporters of the National Covenant who have been defeated by Government forces at the Battle of Bothwell Brig on 22 June. For more than four months these men were held here without any shelter, each man being allowed 4 ounces of bread a day. Kindly citizens were sometimes able to get some more food.

Some of the prisoners died here, somewhere tried and executed for treason, some escaped and some were freed after signing a bond of loyalty to the ground. All those who were persecuted and died for their support of the National Covenant in the rains of Charles II and James VII are commemorated by the Martyrs Memorial on the north-eastern wall of the kirkyard. The Covenant, which was first signed in Grey Friars Kurt in 1638, promised to defend Presbyterianism from intervention by the crown.

In November 1679 the remaining 257 men who had been sentenced to transportation overseas, were taken to Leith and placed on board a ship bound for the American colonies; nearly all were drowned when the ship was wrecked off the Orkney Island s (where there is a monument in their memory) but 48 of the prisoners survived.

The section of the kirkyard used to imprison the Covenantors lay outside the existing south wall and included the area now covered by buildings on Forest Road. The area behind the gate was laid out for burials in 1705 and contains many fine monuments but these did not exist at the time of the prison.

The plaque has been provided by the Grefriars Kirkyard Trust with the support of the Scottish Covenanter Memorials Association.

scotianostra:

The One O’Clock Gun is fired every day (except Sunday) at precisely 13:00, allowing citizens and visitors to check their clocks and watches.

The origin of the tradition lies in the days when sailing ships in the Firth of Forth were able to check and reset their chronometers in the days before acurate timepieces were available.

In 1861 Captain Wauchope, a Scottish Naval Officer in the Royal Navy invented the time ball, still seen today on top of Nelson’s Monument , Calton Hill. At one O’clock the ball drops giving the signal to sailors, but this meant that someone would have to be looking out for it and it often couldn’t be seen in foggy weather. So, in the same year the gun was fired simultaneously to the time ball dropping. Originally an 18-pound muzzle loading cannon which needed four men to load and fire was fired from the Half Moon Battery. The gun could be easily heard by ships in Leith Harbour (2 miles away) The cannon was replace with a 25 pound Howitzer in 1953 and has is now fired form Mill’s Mount Battery on the North face of the Castle and has been fired every day except a Sunday since then.

Edinburgh during the Summer 2012 Olympics.

Edinburgh during the Summer 2012 Olympics.

I’m just back from Scotland with photos. We were very lucky with the weather.

I’m just back from Scotland with photos. We were very lucky with the weather.