MUSSELBURGH ‘Honest Toun.’

Historic Site, Famous People Local stories and Attractions

Battle Sites and Beaches 

The name Musselburgh deriving from the place for mussel’s referring to the shellfish, and burgh derived from Place. The original settlement and harbour in the present Burgh was between the high ground of Inveresk and the River Esk up the river at the old bridge. When the roman army occupied Inveresk from 142 A.D. – 163 A.D. the shore line of the Firth of Forth was 500 metres inland from its present position. Boats could navigate up the Esk River as far as the Roman Bridge. In the 13th century the town centre had shifted to the lands of Pinkie the jurisdiction of the Abbots of Dunfermline who were granted a charter in 1070 by King Malcolm III. The town centre has been here for 700 years.

In 1201 the nation’s nobility gathered there to pledge allegiance to the future Alexander II, aged just 4, in the presence of his father William the Lion. In the fourteenth century, the Regent of Scotland died in Musselburgh after a long illness during which he was cared for by the local people. When his successor offered to reward the people, they refused saying that they were only doing their duty. Thus, the townspeople became famed for their honesty: since then Musselburgh has been known as the ‘Honest Toun.’ Musselburgh and the Riding of the Marches. This ancient custom happens once every 21 years. The Musselburgh Riding of the Marches was first mentioned in the record books in the late 1600s. The Musselburgh Marches only take place once every 21 years.  The origins of the riding of the marches (land borders) The lords (Laird's) (landowners) would appoint a leading person who would be tasked to ride around the borders of the lords (Laird's) land to ensure that no-one had been stealing sheep or cattle and the boundary walls and fences were still in the correct places, as neighbouring landowners would try and increase their land area by moving the boundaries. Musselburgh also has an annual festival. The first festival, known as The Honest Toun Festival was held in 1936, which is not allowed to impose on the Riding of the Marches.

BURGH BEAUTY                         THUNDERBOLT                                   PINKIE                                                 BONNIE

The Riding of The Marches is a week long festival for all ages and events are held each day. The final day a procession through the streets of the town which symbolising the riding around the land borders with the town champion leading the procession in his armour and carrying the town standard.  

CRILLIE                                                                   HORSEY MCHORSEFACE                             NO NAME WAS AVAILABLE ?

GIAI                                                                        NIPPER

MADAME POMPIDOU                                           GELATO                                                          

TAYLOR                                                                   GUSTAV                                                           WALLY

The Musselburgh Mercat Cross

 

The Musselburgh Mercat Cross dates from circa 1740 and stands on the site of the original medieval cross. At the top of the pillar stands a lion holding a shield with the Musselburgh Coat of Arms inscribed on it. The mercat cross was where public proclamations would be announced to the residents of the towns.

                                The Plaque reads;

NEAR THIS SPOT STOOD TILL THE EARLY

PART OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY THE

HOUSE IN WHICH THERE DIED ON 20th JULY

1332 THOMA RANDOLPH, EARL OF MORY,

REGENT OF SCOTLAND

ACCORDING TO TRADITION THE MOTTO

“HONESTATS” ADOPTED BY THE BURGH

IS DERIVED FROM THE TRIBUTE PAID TO THE

CITIZENS FOR THEIR CARW OF THE DYING

REGENT BY DONALD, EARL OF MAR,

HIS SUCCESSOR IN THE REGENCY.

2 AVEILED 20th JULY 1932

DAVID LOWE, PROVST

The Musselburgh Tolbooth and Tower

 

Musselburgh Tolbooth was built in 1496 and the tower is the only original part that still survives. The original clock was gift by the Dutch. In 1544 the Earl of Hertford Edward Seymour 1st Duke of Somerset on Henry VIII orders was sent to Burn Edinburgh and whatever on the way. This was an attack by the English sea-borne army and the first major action of the war of the Rough Wooing.  Musselburgh was burnt but the tower of the Tolbooth survived.

The Tolbooth was built adjoining the tower in 1590.  The Building was built from the remnants of the chapel and hermitage of Our Lady of Loreto, which was used as a hospital for the dead and wounded at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547. The Chapel and Hermitage was destroyed as many other places of worship were destroyed during the Reformation.

At the top of the steps of the Tolbooth in Musselburgh is a Bronze plaque which reads;

                          ROLL OF HONOUR

OPEN GOLF CHAMPIONS

WILLIE PARK Senior 1860, 1863 1866 1875

all at Prestwick

MUNGO PARK 1874

at Musselburgh

BOB FERGUSON 1880, 1881, 1882

Musselburgh, Prestwick, St Andrews

DAVID (DEACON) BROWN 1885

Musselburgh

WILLIE PARK Junior 1887, 1889

Prestwick and Musselburgh 

The first open golf Championship was held in 1860, was played over 3 rounds of golf consisting of 12 holes per round. Willie Park beat Tom Morris to become champion. All the named winners on the plaque were local Musselburgh born. Bob Ferguson had a shot named the "Musselburgh Iron" using his putter from of the green.

Sir Walter Scott  Lived in Musselburgh and at 57 High Street Prestonpans circa 1800 while on duty as the Quarter Master of the Edinburgh Light Horse. 

He was injured why on Portobello Beach where the Edinburgh Light Horse drilled. While recovering he completed  "The Lay of the last Minstrel". The plaque above reads;    

SIR WALTER SCOTT CREATED HONORARY BURGESS

OF MUSSELBURGH 25th MARCH 1799 RESIDED IN

THE HONEST TOUN PERIODICALLY FROM 1797 - 1808

WHILE ON DUTY AS QUARTERMASTER OF THE EDINBURGH

LIGHT HORSE AND THERE WROTE MANY STANZAS OF THE LAY OF

THE LAST MINSTREL AND OF MARMION

SCOTT CENTENARY 1932

The original Roman Bridge over the river Esk is said to have been built by the Romans in the 6th century and a bridge has been in the same position since that time, all be it the bridge has been rebuilt in part and a third arch has been added. The bridge is still in use as it originally was, a foot bridge that the Romans used the Jacobite's in 1745 and the English during the reformation. Musselburgh is believed to be one of the oldest towns in Scotland.

The memorial stone overlooking the battle site of Pinkie Cleuch 1547. Earl of Hertford Edward Seymour 1st Duke of Somerset the new king's uncle took over the ruling of England and amassed an army of 18,000 foot soldiers, Cavalry and a fleet of 30 warships with a destination of Edinburgh. To stop the English advance on Edinburgh the Earl of Arran

James Hamilton who was the Regent of Scotland, gathered a force of over 20,000 and marched to the River Esk. Due to the position of the artillery and the ships canon the Scottish army were bombarded from three sides and given no mercy.

FA’SIDE CASTLE overlooking the battle sites of Prestonpans 1745 a great Scots victory and Pinkie Cluegh 1547 which was the worst defeat a Scottish Army ever suffered at the hands of the English with around 10,000 deaths.

The battle was the largest and with most casualties ever fought in Scotland and was also the final battle between the separate kingdoms of Scotland and England. Known as (Bloody Saturday) 10th September 1547, this was the first battle that ships canon were used to bombarded a land army. Fa’side Castle originally built in the 11th century has been through many traumatic events but still stands to this day.

    Inscription    

 

M.R.

1567

AT THIS SPOT

MARY

QUEEN OF SCOTS

AFTER THE ESCAPE OF

BOTHWELL

MOUNTED HER HORSE

AND SURRENDERED

HERSELF TO

THE CONFEDERATE

LORDS

15 JUNE 1567

Fa'side Castle East Lothian

Mary Queen of Scots 1567 Carberry Hill East Lothian

 

Mary Queen of Scots and the Earl of Bothwell her husband, left Dunbar with their army and met the army of the confederate Lords at Carberry Hill on June 15th 1567. Mary Queen of Scots surrendered herself to the Confederate Lords in an attempt to save her husband the Earl of Bothwell.

After Mary Queen of Scots Surrender she was taken to Edinburgh and was kept in the Black Turnpike next to the Tron Kirk overnight and the next day was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle and later taken to Loch Leven where after a time was taken to the Castle of Fotheringhay where after many years of imprisonment her cousin Elizabeth I had her executed. On the death of Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots son became King in 1603. (King James I).

  MUSSELBURGH'S NEW BRIDGE

 The New Bridge was built in 1806 and designed by John Rennie the Elder

 a Scottish civil engineer born in 1761 in Phantassie, near East Linton.

MUSSELBURGH'S FISHERROW HARBOUR

Evidence of the existence of a harbour here circa 1600 with many boats listed in 1620s working from here. However it is said the first harbour was positioned at the mouth of the River Esk remembering the shore line in the 1500s was 500 yards inland from its present position. Rebuilding took place in 1806 and 1850. 

MUSSELBURGH'S RACECOURSE AND LINKS GOLF COURSE

Musselburgh Links is situated in the middle of the Musselburgh Racecourse. There is written evidence of golf being played on Musselburgh Links on 2 March 1672 but in other books of history it is said that Mary Queen of Scots played at the links circa 1560. The Musselburgh Links held the Open Golf Championships in 1874, 1877, 1880, 1883, 1886, 1889.

The Claret Jug  was first played for at St Andrews in 1873.

THE ESTUARY OF THE RIVER ESK

The River Esk estuary is in Musselburgh and flows from two seperate sources. The first (the north Esk) is from the Pentland Hills near Carlops, West Lothian and the second (the south Esk) from  the west slopes of Blackhope Scar in the Moorfoot Hills in the Scottish Borders. They join together just outside Dalkeith in Midlothian and finish at the Firth of Forth in Musselburgh. 

Looking down the Esk from Musselburgh                         The Esk estuary with Edinburgh and Arthur Seat in the distance

© 2016 by All About Edinburgh. 

started 16 / 03 /2017

For more things to see and do outside Edinburgh go to

www.lothianandborders.com