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Genealogical Research

Walking Tours of Leith

The Siege of Leith
Sir Andrew Wood
Mary Queen of Scots

Templar Treasure
Jealousy of Edinburgh

Civil War
Templars in Leith
Leith and the Holy Grail

Templars & Tau Cross
Morton & Witchcraft

South Leith Parish Church
Great Plague

Interactive Map




The Church at War

Within South Leith Church can be seen memorials of past campaigns from around the world in which members of the congregation have taken part. From the battle of Preston Pans up to the Second World War.

Going further back in history, however, the church has seen the coming of the armies of Edward I and latter his son Edward II, after and before the battle of Bannockburn, at which he was defeated by Robert the Bruce. Later, the church was burnt by Edward Seymour, Lord Protector of England in 1544 and again in 1547, the year in which the Scottish army was defeated at the battle of Pinkie (near Musselburgh). Later, the town Leith was laid siege to by the Lords of the Congregation and an English army under Lord Gray against the French who were holding Leith. It was during the siege that a cannon ball came through the east window and out by the west window during an Easter Mass. Fortunately nobody was killed.

During the Cromwellian Period the church was used as a meeting place between the covenanters and the royalists in an attempt to reach a compromise rather than war with one another. Unfortunately these diplomatic attempts failed and the Covenanters and Royalists warred for approximately six years. During the war the church was used as a munitions dump for Oliver Cromwells army whilst the citadel was being built in North Leith under General Monk.

One of the greatest tragedies to beset Leith was the Gretna Rail disaster of 1915 in which two companies of Royal Scots (raised in Leith) in an express troop train collided with a local train standing on the track when another express train crashed into the wreckage. 215 men were killed and 191 men were seriously injured. This is believed to have been the worst railway disaster in British railway history. Many of the dead were buried at Rosebank Cemetery and the Company colours now fly within the church as a memorial to those who lost their lives.

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