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Blackness

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Blackness, a seaport village in the E of Carriden parish, Linlithgowshire, on a small bay of its own name on the Firth of Forth, 3½ miles ESE of Borrowstounness, and 3¾ NE of Linlithgow station. Anciently the port of Linlithgow, and a place of extensive commerce, it also took consequence from a castle near it. which is supposed by some antiquaries to mark the eastern extremity of Antoinnus' Wall, and was long one of the most important fortresses in the S of Scotland; it was, in main degree, superseded as a port, in 1680, by Borrowstounness, which, on account of possessing higher advantages of situation, was then made the port for Linlithgow; and since that time, it has sunk into almost total decadence, insomuch that its harbour went to ruin, its custom house was converted into lodgings, and its only commerce became a trivial exportation of bricks and tiles, and as trivial an importation of lime and manure. Blackness House, formerly a seat of the baronet family of Wedderburn, stands adjacent to the W side of the village. Blackness Burn runs about 1½ mile on the boundary between Carriden and Abercorn to the Firth, and passes the eastern vicinity of the village- Blackness Castle stands on a rocky promontory between the bay and the burn's mouth, in the north-eastern vicinity of the village; dates from some remote period unknown to record; was burned in 1443-44, amid the conflicts of the Douglases, Livingstons, Crichtons, and Forresters; was burned again, in 148l, by an English fleet; was the meeting place, in 1488, of James IN- and his rebellions nobles for effecting a pacification; witnessed, in 1547, the burning or capture, by an English admiral, of ten vessels which had anchored near it for protection; was garrisoned, in 1548, during the regency of the Earl of Arran, by a French force under D'Esse; underwent repeated vicissitudes of occupancy till 1572; served, like the Bass, as a State prison for confining distinguished Covenanters in the time of the persecution; was one of the chief forts of Scotland guaranteed by the Act of Union to be maintained permanently as a national strength; is, nevertheless, a structure more characteristic of the warfare of rude ages than adapted to the modern improvements in the military art; became eventually of no practical use whatever, held, as a fort, by only one man; and in 1870-74, was transmuted into the nucleus of extensive works to serve as the central ammunition depot of Scotland. These works were constructed at a cost of considerably more than £10,000, and they comprise a powder magazine, with two compartments, each about 42 feet by 18, a light iron-girder pier, a sea wall 1000 feet long, storage places for heavy guns and other munitions of war, barracks 124 feet long, for 30 soldiers, and a two-story building in the Scottish Baronial style for military officers.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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