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Leith Eurowalk

Point B - King’s Wark

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Location: 36 Shore

The present building stands on the site of a tenement built by King James I in 1434 to encourage trade at the port. Leith was involving into a busy port at the time, trading with Bruges (Flanders), France, the Hanseatic League and Norway.

The original King’s Wark housed accommodation for merchants, shipbuilder’s workshops, warehouses and taverns.

Over the intervening years the buildings have been destroyed and rebuilt several times, and they were used for various purposes, including as a custom house to manage trade, but also to house weapons, as a storehouse, and also as a plague hospital.

The King’s Wark at the site of the original Custom House

In 1590 James VI and his wife Anne of Denmark stayed here when they arrived from Denmark.

In 1613 the house was rebuilt again, to house taverns, a cellar for the king’s wines (imported from France) and a royal tennis court (a game that had originated in France and had become popular in Britain).

Nowadays the King’s Wark has reverted to accommodation and bars and restaurants.

A new Custom House has been built on the other side of the river.

Here is a fuller account of the King’s Wark building.

Turn left along The Shore. Leith Harbour is on your left.

Picture Credits: Denise Fisher, Bill Rodger/Edinburgh4Europe 2021