Edinburgh, Leith, The Shore, 'king's Wark'

Artillery Fortification (15th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, Leith, The Shore, 'king's Wark'

Classification Artillery Fortification (15th Century)

Canmore ID 51945

Site Number NT27NE 3

NGR NT 2711 7650

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Archaeology Notes

NT27NE 3 2711 7650.

See also NT27NE 88

(Name: NT 2711 7650) King's Wark (NR)

OS 6" map, Edinburghshire, 1st ed., (1853)

The King's Wark stood on The Shore, facing the harbour, on a site extending from the modern Bernard Street to Broad Wynd. Designed to serve as a royal residence, a store-house and an armoury, it was begun by James I in 1434, but was not completed until about 1500. Nothing is known of its original appearance except that it was flanked on the E by a tower containing a cellar, a hall, and three chambers, and on the W by an arch with a house above it. It was damaged by Hertford's troops in 1544, but the tower evidently survived as it was given to the baron of Restalrig for use as a tolbooth in the following year. In 1647, the property was given to the magistrates of Edinburgh, its associated tennis court was turned into a weigh-house in 1649, and by 1752, had undergone further extensive reconstruction.

RCAHMS 1951.

There is a public house named The Kings Wark at NT 2711 7650. The exterior walls are harled making it impossible to determine whether any remains of the original building exist.

Visited by OS (B S) 27 November 1975.

NT 2710 7651 An archaeological excavation was carried out in April 1998 prior to development of a gap site situated on the northern edge of the medieval port of South Leith and overlying part of the site for the late medieval royal complex, the King's Wark (constructed c 1433-65). A post-medieval moulded stone doorway, decorated with the armorial device of the mid-16th-century Queen Regent Mary of Guise, was incorporated and reused within the present street frontage and will be retained within the new building.

Four trenches were excavated across the footprint of the proposed development and revealed that the survival of stratified archaeological deposits was constrained by the presence of a complex series of late post-medieval (17th-18th century) cellars; as such the archaeological remains were restricted to the southern third of the site. The stratified sequence of deposits and walls revealed five main phases of occupation: pre-15th-century midden and beach deposits; construction of the King's Wark complex; late 15th-century land reclamation to the E of the King's Wark complex; probable late 16th-century reconstruction of southern range of the King's Wark known as 'The Vaults'; and 17th to 18th-century redevelopment. Of particular interest were the remains of a 15th-century sea wall or quay, running E-W across the S of the site. The position and date of the wall suggests that it relates to the King's Wark complex, although an earlier date of construction is also possible.

Sponsor: Gregor Homes.

J A Lawson 1999



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