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The Old Edinburgh Fishing Village of Cramond


Roman Cramond

The former fishing village of Cramond, in Northeast Edinburgh has been one of the most desirable areas in the region for 10,000 years ever since nomadic hunter gatherers came to where the River Almond (of course they didn't call it that) joins the River Forth (They didn't call it the Forth either) to feast on the oysters and mussels. Nothing much happened till 142AD when the Romans arrived and built a fort that covered six acres, took 500 men to build and included a harbour. They also built the Antonine Wall across Scotland, with a gap between the wall and the fort.

Military life was the same then as now and a decade or so later the fort was abandoned and the troops ordered to retreat south to Hadrian's wall, which was easier to defend.

Around 208AD emperor Septimus Severus ordered reoccupation of the fort. He died three years later and the year after one of his sons killed the other brother, became emperor and ordered the troops back to Hadrians Wall.

The outlines of some the buildings comprising the fort are on show just off Cramond Glebe Road on the way to the seafront. Perhaps the most interesting find from here is the Cramond Lioness, a sculpture of a lioness eating a bound prisoner.


Cramond Kirk

Cramond Kirk claims to be the site of the oldest church in Scotland, dating to around 600AD, though the earliest surviving part of the church dates to the 1400s. The church nearly lost its bell in 1651 when Oliver's Army (Cromwell that is) removed it and the congregation appealed successfully for its return. The kirk was rebuilt several times, starting around 1656 when the renewal would have taken account of the differences between Presbyterian and Catholic forms of worship.

Gravestone spotters will note the Masonic insignia on the older tombstones.

From the harbour, normally full of swans, you can walk inland up the River Almond past the remains of the old iron mills and enjoy the mirror like surfaces of the old mill ponds above the weir, to Old Cramond Bridge. At the time of writing this is the only crossing point since the ferry is out of action.

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Cramond Island

If you do not want to walk inland you can check the safe crossing times and walk the ¾ mile long causeway to the Cramond Island Bird Sanctuary

About half way across the condition of the causeway deteriorates and you need to be careful.

The tide rises faster than you might expect, and it is not uncommon for visitors to be stranded on the Island once the tide starts rising, especially as the Island is larger than it looks from the mainland However some people plan ahead in order to have a party on the island, with perfect privacy, when the tide is high. The weather can change rapidly so warm clothes are essential.

The earliest evidence of humans found anywhere in Scotland turned up on the island in the form of discarded hazelnut shells, carbon dated to 8,500BC. These are thought to be the remains of a meal enjoyed here by a band of mesolithic hunter-gatherers.

Surprisingly there is no trace of Roman Occupation of the Island. It has been intermittently occupied. During the first world war part of the island was taken over by the War Department as part of the defences of the Forth, and the entire Island was requisitioned in the Second World War, The military left a lot of traces and the neighbouring island of Inchmickery, forbidden tot he public, is almost covered in military defences. The concrete teeth next to the causeway were military defences designed to stop anything that floated passing south of the island.

For photographers the sky can be impressive and makes a great complement to the sea or the sand-flats exposed at low tide. The buildings in the village and the walk up the Almond also offer opportunities.

The public toilets (non smoking!! and closed at 6pm) include a disabled toilet but we failed to find any means of access other than steep stairs. But it was a rainy day so we may have missed something.

The Drum Sands at Sunset

The Drum Sands at Sunset

Cramond Promenade

Cramond Promenade, on your right as you face the island, takes you to Silverknowes, past a small cafe and free gym equipment. High tide brings windsurfers and low tide brings families scouring the rock pools as well as large black birds, possibly ravens. Darkness may sprout barbecues and impromptu parties if it is not raining.

Overall Cramond is somewhere not a lot happens, which is part of its charm.

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