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Publication Account

Date 1981

Event ID 1018076

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


The church of St.Mary in South Leith was built about 1438. It was formed as subordinate chapel to Restalrig which continued to be the church of the parish until 1609 (Swan, 1925, 201). Little of the original fabric survives except for the west window which is now in the church of St.Conan at Loch Awe. The church was apparently used to lodge Scots prisoners during Hertford's campaign of 1547-8 (Robertson, 1851, 26) and the choir appears to have been destroyed during the siege of 1559-60 (Grant, 1882, iii, 218).

Despite the damage sustained, St.Mary's continued as a place of worship for South Leith residents. In 1572 the General Assembly met within its walls (Hutcheson, 1856, 118). Additions to the fabric included a range of dormer windows in 1614 and another seventeenth century appendage, a stone tower surmounted in the 'Scoto-Dutch taste by a conical spire of wood and metal' (Grant, 1882, iii, 219). In 1848 the church underwent drastic restoration which included the construction of a new tower, the removal of the remaining dormer windows and the demolition of the east and west gables of the church (Hutcheson, 1856, 199).

Information from ‘Historic Edinburgh, Canongate and Leith: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1981).

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