Ratho has an area of 24.9 sq. km (9.6 sq. miles) and has 4 neighbouring parishes; namely Currie, Edinburgh,and East Calder/Kirknewton in the County of Midlothian, and Kirkliston in the County of West Lothian.
Ratho village is situated to the south of the M8 motorway and on the course of the Union Canal, a 2½ miles (4 km) south of Kirkliston and 8 miles (13 km) west of the city centre. The core of the village comprises distinctive black whinstone buildings, but Ratho has grown rapidly since the 1970s.
Originally constructed by the Knights Hospitaller in the Middle Ages, sections of the much altered Parish Church of St. Mary's date back to the 12th century.
Ratho Station is an industrial settlement located alongside the railway a mile (1.5 km) to the north.
The parish church has records for births dating from 1682, for marriages from 1741 and for deaths from 1682.
There are a number of old buildings in the area. The most prominent of these was Haltoun House or castle (pronounced, and sometimes spelt, Hatton), which was badly damaged by fire in the mid-1950s and subsequently taken down. This magnificent country house evolved from its central core, a Norman keep, or what Scots call a Pele Tower. In 1371 the manor and lands of Haltoun were resigned to the Crown by John de Haltoun, and were regranted to Alan de Lawedre [Lauder] of that Ilk who then resided mostly at Whitslaid Tower just outside Lauder. Haltoun Tower was damaged during the House of Douglas troubles of 1452, when a note in the Treasurers' Accounts show funds being provided for its repair. The Haltoun estates remained in the Lauder family until the latter half of the 17th century when they passed by marriage to Charles Maitland, 3rd Earl of Lauderdale, who enlarged and beautified Hatton House.
Parish Church (St Marys)
There is evidence of a pre-Norman, Celtic church on this site, and reference to St Mary's in Ratho date back to 1243.
The east aisle is dated 1683. West of the south aisle (1830) half of an ornate 12th century doorway is still visible. Generally the church has never been grand, but it bears the hallmarks of centuries of evolutionary change. The interior was generally denuded in 1932 including loss of the 18th century gallery. A 13th century memorial lies in the south porch. One curious feature is the bell, which was rung by an external chain which has carved a groove into the stonework below the bell.
The churchyard is of equal antiquity and interest. Its greatest oddity is a gravestone to John Mitchell who died in 1749 aged 80 years. He was a mason by trade and the gravestone was cut out many years before he died in the form of a panelled coffin. Richard Lauder, the last Lauder laird of Haltoun, was interred in the graveyard on November 29, 1675. Other graves of note are Thomas Wilkie (d.1679), William Anderson (d.1756) and the Rev Andrew Duncan (d.1827) (Moderator of the Church of Scotland in 1824).
The manse is a very fine two storey Georgian villa standing to the east on the opposite side of the main road. It dates from around 1790 and is constructed of whin stone. It faces southwards, away from the road. Its outbuildings have been converted into a separate house now slightly separating it from the church.
A new cemetery of far less character now lies on the NE outskirts of the village, slightly out of sight from the churchyard, just east of the manse.
Sources for Old Parish Registers Records, Vital Records and Censuses
Further Sources of Reference
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