Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

The triumph of the thistle

On 3 May 1660 General Morgan drew forth his Regiment from the Citadel of Leith and asked if they would serve His Majesty, King Charles. The response was loud and clear: All, All, All' and they marched back where they were given money to drink to the King's health.

The 8 years of military rule under the Cromwellian Protectorate was over There was, however, the small matter of £30,000 due for back pay but by 1662 the soldiers were satisfied and the garrison departed. Leith Citadel (the core fortified area of the town) was dismantled as were those at Ayr, Perth, Inverlochy and Inverness.

Above the gates of each of the citadels had been placed the Arms of the Commonwealth and one may assume that these were the first to go. At Inverness the local minister, gazing at this intrusion, had noted with obvious satisfaction that:

The Commonwealth's Arms were set about the most conspicuous gate of the Citadel, but a great thistle growing out above it covered the whole carved work and arms so as not a bit of it could be seen, to the admiration of all beholders
Inverness citadel
Inverness citadel - Commonwealth Arms above main gate
Ayr citadels
TOP: Ayr Citadel 1790: empty panel once contained the Commonwealth Arms
BOTTOM: Ayr Citadel today: The panel is now lost. Note marks of musket balls
Leith citadel
Leith citadel - fragment of gate

Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle.

Added: 17 Sep 2015 Updated: 16 Oct 2023
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