Pilrig Park doesn’t look like much, but if you’re staying in (or exploring) the Leith area around it, then it’s worth dropping by if you love lesser-known history nuggets. Why? Because this unassuming park holds a hidden treasure from the 16th century!
During excavations in 2006 and 2007, the remains of Somerset’s Battery, or Mount, were unearthed within the park. This artillery fort played a crucial role during the Siege of Leith in 1560. It was constructed by the Protestant besiegers as they sought to conquer the French citadel in Leith. What makes this discovery truly remarkable is that these siege works are believed to be the only ones from the 16th century found in Britain, making them of immense military significance.
Let’s dive into a bit of history, shall we? The Siege of Leith marked the end of a twelve-year encampment of French troops at the port of Leith. The French soldiers had arrived in 1548 by invitation from the Scots but were eventually compelled to leave in 1560, with the assistance of an English force. The town of Leith itself was not taken by force; instead, the French troops departed peacefully under the terms of a treaty known as the Treaty of Leith or the Treaty of Edinburgh.
There isn’t anything to see of the remains/finds these days, but I still love walking through the park knowing its history.