Notable Dates and Brief History
of Duddingston with original Photographs by Elaine Ferguson:
|from the Twelfth Century
||Duddingston Parish church
||Sir William Wallace
found shelter in the Figgate Whins
||The Sheep Heid Inn at Duddingston was established
||The plague hit Duddingston Village
||1700s the small village of Figgate sprung up on
either side of the road that stretched from Musselburgh, skirting
past the ancient village of Restalrig, up to the busier thoroughfares
of Abbeyhill and Holyrood road
|13th Sept 1744
|| A water spout broke over the western
slope of Arthur Seat causing flooding around Duddingston Loch
||Bonnie Prince Charlie stationed his troops at
||First recorded census of the parish of Duddingston
||Bronze age weapons that were found in Duddingston
|1st Oct 1921
||Celtic Stone cross unveiled outside Holyrood High
School. It is a memorial commemorating the people of Duddingston
who fought and fell during the First World War
The area of Duddingston has been inhabited since
before the 12 century. Some evidance has been found that there was
once an island village constructed on piles in Duddingston Loch
and it is believed this was the source of the many bronze age weapons
that were found in the loch in 1778. The Roman occupation from the
days of Agricola (A.D. 81) has also left it's mark, and coins have
been discovered in the neighbourhood of the old Roman road, now
Fishwives Causeway. The Norman invasion is represented with the
building of the Norman Church overlooking Duddingston Loch, called
Duddingston Kirk and Loch today from "Windy
One of the best times to see the loch is
in winter when it can become a magical place nestled under
the ancient volcano that is Arthur Seat.
The sport for which the loch was most famous is curling and
skating. Indeed one of the most famous images of Duddingston
is still the painting by Sir Henry Raeburn of Rev. Robert
Walker, minister of the Canongate Kirk, skating on Duddingston
Loch in 1784.
The Duddingston Curling Society was created on
the 17th January 1795 and over the years its list of members
were many of the leading Scotsmen of the day. Its final demise
came around the 1850's when the popularity of the game gave
rise to a great many clubs with artificial ponds and the old
time-hounered society gradually fell into decay.
Up to the latter part of the 11th century the
area was heavily forested all the way from Duddingston Loch to the
Figgate estuary at Portobello and was called the Forest of Drumselch
, or King's Forest, and it probably included the Forest of Figgate
as well. By the time King David I had granted a charter to erect
the abbey of Holyrood in 1128, the area had largely been deforested
and had become heath-covered moorland with whin covered downs near
the sandy shore. David I gifted the land of the parish to the Abbot
of Kelso at the beginning of the 12th Century, and Kelso Abbey remained
the feu superior of the Barony of Duddingston until the time of
the Reformation, when the land reverted to the Crown.
The name Duddingston appears to be saxon and is likely to have been
derived from the settlement of a Norman family of the name Dodin
which was leased from Kelso Abbey. The Saxon termination of town
(originally meaning enclosure or hedge) then gave it the name Dodinstun,
similar to other local names such as Ormiston, Levingston and Elphinston.
Through time the name became Duddingston.
The economy of the Village was originally based
on agriculture and the weaving of reeds from Duddingston Loch into
coarse fabric known as Duddingston hardings.
In 1297 it is said that
Sir William Wallace found shelter in the
Figgate Whins with two hundred of his followers prior to a successful
raid on the North of England.
The Church or Kirk of Duddingston is probably the oldest
piece of stonework in the parish. It consist of a nave, chancel
and tower, although many changes have been made over the centuries
it still retains some of its original features.
||Evidence of mid
14 century justice is still evident in the "jougs"
(from jugum, a yoke) attached to the outside wall of
the Kirk. It would encircle the "criminal" round the
neck and consisted of an iron collar in two halves fastened
by a clasp and suspended by a chain about 6 feet from the ground.
They were used to punish blasphemy, swearing, drunkenness, the
abuse of husbands by their wives and other such like offences.
Another ancient relic from the past that
still remains to this day is the "Louping-on-stane".
This recalls the days when honest farmers of the parish brought
their wives with them to the kirk riding the same horse.
The stone platform with its steps enabled
the farmer's wife to mount up behind her lord when the church
service was over.
||From the register
of burials in Duddingston Kirk there appears to be a high rate
of mortality during the 17th century. The average age of death
was about 25 years old. In addition there were a number of times
where the plague claimed many more lives than normal.
The greatest was in 1645 when no less than 160 burials were
recorded of which over 140 had died from the plague. For a small
village the likes of Duddingston this was a significant depletion
of the local population. For the plague victims a separate place
of burial had to be found for fear the infection might spread.
These unfortunate souls were recorded as being buried "at
the fute of ye lone", which although difficult to identify
was probably at the foot of the lane leading from the village
into the Queens Park where the old Park Lodge now stands.
In Duddingston around 1713 there were as
many as 6 or 7 public houses in the village and one of the
oldest is the Sheep heid. It has held a licence dating back
to 1360 and is the oldest pub in Edinburgh if not Scotland.
The only opening hours restriction was that during sermons
on Sunday no taven or inn was allowed to open its doors. This
rule however was not always followed as parishoners liked
to enjoy some bread and cheese and a pint of ale between seromons.
Severals cases for infringement were brought before the session!
Loch is fed by a small stream from the "Wells o' Weary"
which maintains a uniform depth in the loch and so it generally
varies little in water levels. There is however a point in its
long history that is worth noting. On 13th September in 1744
a water spout broke over the western slope of Arthur Seat and
cascaded down the hillside. It tore a channel in the hill and
gave rise to the area of Arthur Seat we know today as "The
Guttit Haddie" and caused flooding over the adjacent meadows.
In 1745 the Barony of Easter and Wester Duddingston
became the property of the Earl of Abercorn. He set about converting
it into a residential place. Farms were enlarged, roads made and
hedges planted. In 1746 he introduced the system of lease which
held a 19 year tenure. In 1763 the Earl built a mansion near to
Wester Duddingston, called Duddingston House, and it was finished
in 1868 at a cost of £30,000.
Also in September of 1745,
Bonnie Prince Charlie's Highland army were stationed at Duddingston
after their victory at Prestonpans and no doubt Charlie popped into
the Sheep Heid for a quick pint. Towards the end of October Prince
Charlie reviewed his troops on Portobello Beach on the eve of his
campaign to wrest the crown from the Hanoverian dynasty.
After many successes and on reaching as far south
as the city of Derby, the army were forced to retreat with the Duke
of Cumberland in persuit. The hopes of the return of the house of
Stuart to the throne ended on the fatal field of Culloden.
first recorded census of the parish of Duddingston in 1755,
there was a population of 989. The parish at this time covered
a number of villages in the area, mainly Easter and Wester Duddingston
and Magdalene or Maitland Bridge. Later the building of Joppa
caused the extension of Easter Duddingston. Click the map on
the right for a larger image of Duddingston Parish.
In 1767 the earl of Abercorn added
to the Duddingston estate the Barony of Brunstane. However at this
time the lands of Figgate were not included as they had previously
been sold to Baron Muir and then on to Mr William Jameson, commonly
known as the father of Portobello, see the history of Portobello
for more information on Willaim Jameson.
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