Duddingston


There was time when Duddingston used to be a separate village, but it now lies connected to Edinburgh. It lies between Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat – both important sights of the Scottish capital – and still retains much of its charm, feeling a long way from the city centre.

The earliest records of this region (from Craggenmarg – the old name of Arthur’s Seat – to Magdalene Bridge) are dated at the middle of the 11th century. At that time Duddingston village had name Treverlen (or Traverlin). Different etymologists have given different translations for these: including ‘place of learned man’ (tref+gwr+len); ‘place of learned woman’ (tref+y+glyn); ‘the farm at the loch’ (tre+war+lyn); and ‘settlement by the loch of reeds’ (traefor+llyn).

Each of these translations comes from Brythonic languages – which was spoken by people in Scotland before the age of Gaelic. This is certainly connected with the age of the village.


Duddingston is perhaps best known for the Sheep Heid Inn and its traditional skittles.

During the 13th and 14th centuries the name of the village was changed to the more recognisable Dodinestun (coming form ‘Dodin’s Estate’). It was during this period in history that the village was given to Kelso Abbey by King David I. The Abbey had itself sold the estate to Doddin de Berwic – an Anglo-Norman known knight. He was afterwards referring to himself as ‘Dodin of Dodinstoun’ (of Dodin’s town). Afterwards the spelling at last led to its final variant – Duddingston village.

Beside the village is Duddingston Loch, which was for centuries used for curling and ice-skating. Weaving also has its place in the history of the village, particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries, with a cloth known as Duddingston Hardings. In addition, the village was known as a centre for the salt and coal mining industries.

Bonnie Prince Charlie, prior to the Battle of Prestonpans, held a council in Duddingston in 1745. Henry Raeburn and Charles Lees had created some of their art works here in the 17th century. Dr. James Tytler – encyclopaedist and author of the 18th century – lived in Duddingston.

Duddingston is also famous for being home to the oldest Scottish pub. Legend has it that the Sheep Heid Inn is named after the ram’s head presented to the landlord by King James VI. History claims this to have happened in 1580 – almost 600 years ago. But the pub is still warm and nice and really attractive for those looking for authentic Scottish historical spots. It is also known for its traditional wooden skittles.

Nature is never far away in Duddingston, and the Scottish Wildlife Trust has responsibility for Duddingston Loch as a wildlife reserve. Here you can find plenty of wildfowl and reed beds, as well as fresh air from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh city centre – which you will continually forget is not that far away!

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