Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Archive Anecdotes

Snippets from the city's archives

Mar 17, 2014

After Flodden: Strengthening the burgh defences.

500 years ago, following the heavy defeat of the Scots at Flodden in 1513, there were fears that Edinburgh might face attack by English armies. Last month we noted the measures recommended in February 1514 to improve the defences of Edinburgh Castle.

One month later, at the instigation of the Royal authorities, the town council moved to improve the defences of the town itself by raising a levy (extent) to wall the town. Here is the extract from the Burgh records:

'March 17 1514. Extent for walling of the toun.

The president, baillies, counsall and communite hes grantit and consentit that ane extent be gatherit of the haill communitie extending to the sowme of

vc li , with the dettis award to the toun for the furnesing and defens of the samyn, efter the forme and effect of our Souerane Lordis writingis direct for that intent.' (From: 'Extracts from the Records: 1514', Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1403-1528')

In time the new wall became known as the 'Flodden Wall' although it was not fully completed until 1560. A hand coloured engraved map by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg (circa 1590) reveals the outcome:

The wall had several entries or 'ports'. The impressive Netherbow Port at the eastern end of the High Street was an important entry to the city, with access obtained from the neighbouring burgh of Canongate. In the eighteenth century, following the defeat of the Jacobite rebellions and the subsequent decision to expand the city beyond the walls, the wall fell into disuse and the Netherbow Port was demolished in 1764.

Remnants of the wall and of the Netherbow Port remain visible to this day. Some examples can be viewed via the link below. In particular, look out for the Royal plaque, preserved from the Netherbow Port, which welcomed those entering the burgh with the words 'Beati Pacifici' - 'blessed are the peacemakers'.

See our gallery of Flodden Wall photos on Flickr






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