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Leith Martello Tower

A historic defensive structure, the Leith Martello Tower is located within the secure area of the Port of Leith, facing out onto the Firth of Forth. Built in 1809, during the Napoleonic Wars, the 9-m (30-foot) high tower was part of a network designed to prevent a French invasion and see off American Privateers. Known locally as the Tally Too'er, the tower was built on offshore rocks to defend Leith Harbour, but now lies land-locked within the eastern breakwater. The tower comprises a round ashlar structure, which rises to a platform with parapet, which would once have supported a heavy cannon. It was re-used during World War II to support an anti-aircraft battery.

While the British military authorities built Martello Towers across the world in the early 19th century, from Canada and the West Indies to India in the east, including more than seventy on the South Coast of England and several in Ireland, Leith is one of only three in Scotland. The idea for their design came from an ancient stone tower on the Pointe de Martella (Corsica) which held out against an attack by the British Navy in 1794.


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