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Edinburgh, Leith Links, 'giant's Brae'

Battery (16th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, Leith Links, 'giant's Brae'

Classification Battery (16th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Somerset's Battery; Leith Links, Artillery Mounds

Canmore ID 51926

Site Number NT27NE 11

NGR NT 2727 7585

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2022.

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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 11 2727 7585

See also NT27NE 12 and NT27NE 140.

(NT 2727 7585) Giant's Brae (NAT)

Somerset's Battery (NR) (Remains of)

OS 6"map, (1966)

The large mound, visible on Leith Links, known as "Giant's Brae" is traditionally identified as the remains of a gun position, Somerset's Battery, occupied by six cannon, set up in 1560 during the siege of Leith against the Queen Regent, Marie de Guise-Lorraine. If this tradition is correct, then Somerset's Battery is seriously misplaced on a map illustrating the siege and drawn in 1560, where it is shown near Pilrig House. The site of the Giant's Brae corresponds rather to the position where two cannon are shown close to the SE bastion of Leith. However, due to distortions in the map, and in view of the inaccuracy of the Leith ramparts themselves, too much reliance cannot be placed on this map.

G Donaldson 1966; RCAHMS 1951.

A grass-covered mound measuring 45.0m NE/SW by 40.0m.

Visited by OS (B S) 27 November 1975.

The tradition that Lady Fife's Brae and Giant's Brae were gunsites during the 1560 siege seems to go no further back than 1827 (A Campbell 1827). Lent authority by Robertson in 1851 and the Ordnance Survey of 1852, it led to them being spared when the rest of the numerous hillocks in the links were levelled in the 1880's. The Petworth map shows some features in the Links about 120 yards in front of the eastern ramparts. One reads as a long, straight ditch, perhaps the remains of an entrenchment by Somerset in 1547, while the others, irregular in shape and tinted in the same manner as Lochend Loch, appear to be ponds. Possibly they were noted on the map because they impeded a frontal attack on the ramparts.

See NT27NE 140.

D H Robertson 1851; S Harris 1992.

Scheduled (with NT27NE 12) as Leith Links, artillery mounds.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 11 December 2002.


Publication Account (1951)

247. Siege Works, Leith Links.

On the S. side of Leith Links are two large mounds about 250yds. apart, known respectively as the "Giant's Brae" and "Lady Fife's Brae". The latter name refers to the Countess of Fife, who lived in Hermitage House immediately S. of this mound (1). They are in reality the remains of two gun positions, Somerset's battery and Pelham's battery, set up in 1560, during the siege of Leith, by the English troops supporting the Congregation against the Queen Regent, Marie de Guise-Lorraine. Cf. Calendar of State Papers, i, p. 400.

RCAHMS 1951, visited c.1941

(1) Russell, The Story of Leith, p. 279.


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