Brief reference has been made under the heading "Scotland and the sea" but it is worthy of repetition that Leith was Scotland's premier port for many centuries. In the early fifteenth century Edinburgh’s rise to become Scotland's Capital City was assured and Leith, with its harbour, shared in that rise with its merchants trading over vast areas. However, as is inevitable with variations in trade cycles, the fortunes of Leith were tied into these and the falling off of business with the Baltic States before and after the First World War was compounded by the Great Depression and then World War II.
Leith and its connection with the sea are both geographical and historical. As has been seen, being on the Eastern seaboard, gave access to Continental Europe from the twelfth century onward. Despite the significant collapse of trade during much of the twentieth century Leith experienced a renaissance with the impounding of the docks and river in the 1960's allowing larger vessels to be accommodated. The growth of the cruise liner business has been quite significant.
North Sea oil activity sustains some trade in the Forth Estuary with Hound Point and Grangemouth being of great importance.
Alike with most British ports, shadows of their former selves, vast tracts of land and old docks at Leith have become sites of commercial and residential development.
Despite these changes over the past few decades the past power and history of Leith can never be removed from the record and from the rich tapestry which is part of the background to the Memorial.