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Edinburgh, Leith Docks, Martello Tower

Martello Tower (19th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, Leith Docks, Martello Tower

Classification Martello Tower (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Leith Roads; Leith Docks; Mussel Cape Rocks; Black Rocks; Martello Rocks; Firth Of Forth; Outer Forth Estuary

Canmore ID 51960

Site Number NT27NE 43

NGR NT 26885 77757

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 43 26885 77757

See also NT27NE 57.00.

Martello Tower [NAT]

OS 1:10,000 map, 1985.

Martello Tower, Leith Docks. Built in 1809 to defend the entrance to Leith Harbour, now half-buried in the E breakwater, it rises as a circular ashlar tower from a battered base to a cordon and parapet. Segment-headed windows, door protected by gunloops. The trefoil gun-emplacement at the platform was added by Lieutenant-Colonel Yule in 1850 when the accommodation inside was reorganised. Inside, a segmental tunnel-vault ringing a central pillar.

J Gifford, C McWilliam and D Walker 1984.

1809. A 'Martello Tower' was erected on Mussel Cape Rocks at a cost of 17,000 pounds as part of a scheme to defend the new docks and the City of Edinburgh against possible attack during the Napoleonic Wars. The invasion never came, and the tower was left to decay until 1850 when it was renovated by the Royal Engineers and occupied by artillerymen from Leith until 1869. The Tower is now land-locked, and a key remains in the possession of Forth Ports plc.

S Mowat [1994].

This tower was erected on offshore rocks to protect the anchorage of Leith Roads, the area of which is now enclosed within the Outer Harbour. The area around it is now used for open oil-pipe storage.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 4 September 1998.

The Black Rocks now form the NE side of the Leith Docks complex (NT27NE 57.00).

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 18 July 2003.

Because of the security measures at Leith Docks it was not possible to view the Martello Tower at close quarters. However, it is still a prominent feature in the docks and appears to be in good condition.

Site recorded by GUARD during the Coastal Assessment Survey for Historic Scotland, 'The Firth of Forth from Dunbar to the Coast of Fife' 23rd February 1996.

Architecture Notes

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC28245- DC28259, 1807, 1810, 1963, 1971 & 1973.


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