Place:Duddingston (village), Midlothian, Scotland

NameDuddingston (village)
Coordinates55.942°N 3.1446°W
Located inMidlothian, Scotland     ( - 1975)
See alsoDuddingston, Midlothian, Scotlandparish of which Duddingston Village was a part until 1896
Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotlandcity into which Duddingston parish was absorbed in 1896
Lothian, Scotlandregional administration 1975-1996
Midlothian (council area), Scotlandunitary Council Area since 1996

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Duddingston is a former village in the east of Edinburgh, Scotland, next to Holyrood Park.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Duddingston Loch has been used for ice-skating and curling, even boasting a Curling House, for several centuries. In the 17th and 18th century the village was primarily a centre for the coal and salt mining industry, but was also known for its weaving industry, in particular for a cloth known as Duddingston Hardings.

Bonnie Prince Charlie held a council of war in a house in the village, shortly before the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745. In the same year, James Hamilton, 8th Earl of Abercorn purchased the Duddingston Estate from the Duke of Argyll. Lord Abercorn commissioned the architect Sir William Chambers to design Duddingston House in the Palladian style, and this was completed by 1768.

The loch provided the setting for Henry Raeburn's painting of The Skating Minister, painted in the 1790s, as well as the less famous but very atmospheric painting by Charles Lees called Skaters on Duddingston Loch by Moonlight.

Dr. James Tytler (1745–1804), author, balloonist and encyclopedist, lived in Duddingston. Robert Burns knew him, describing him as a mortal who wandered the precincts of Edinburgh in leaky shoes, a sky-lighted hat and unlikely breeches, who yet was responsible for at least three quarters of Elliot's Encyclopædia Britannica. In 1774 he was living on the Holyrood Abbey "sanctuary lands" to avoid his creditors. After his wife left him and their children in 1775, he was known thereafter to be co-habiting with at least one, if not two women, one of them a Duddingston washerwoman. This circumstance eventually led to his flight from Scottish justice for the crime of bigamy in 1788, when he left Duddingston, and both women, to remove himself to Berwick. Whilst living in Duddingston he did build a printing press, and turned out further copies of the encyclopedia, and other more successful publications, but he was a poor businessman and never seemed to benefit from these and other successes. Sadly, even his attempt at ballooning in 1784 was something of a debacle. He was finally able to rise to a height of 105 feet, and descend again, which qualified him as Britain's first balloonist, but his success at the time was overshadowed by other more popular balloonists.

Further Reading

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia
  • Susan Mercer: Take One Garden (2006).
  • The Miller O' Duddingston or The Betrothal by J. F. Published in 1875. The author, John Forbes, lived in Duddingston when he wrote it. In his handwritten notes in the National Library of Scotland Archive copy of this book, he says it was written after an accident left him an invalid for a period of seven weeks, and he decided to take some of the tales he had heard from a good friend and storyteller who had been a drayman in the area, and mix fact and fiction into a story set locally. The result is a rollicking good tale, written in verse, of about 40 pages. In the handwritten end notes, the author mentions that one of the characters was based on a real person, and relates the story of a famous suicide which happened at that time. All the locations are real, however, including the Sheep Heid Inn, which one can still visit in the present day, and which has a treasure trove of stories and memorabilia for you to peruse while you enjoy your food and drinks.
  • The Cobbler by Alexander Whitelaw. Published in 1833 This is a short story first published in 1833 as part of a collection of works by the best writers of the day called "The Republic of Letters". It was edited by Alexander Whitelaw, and included a few of his own pieces of work. "The Cobbler" is a salutory comedy about knowing who your friends are. The action takes place in various locations in the village, most of them gone now, except for the Sheep Heid Inn. In the frontispiece of this collection, and alongside later versions, of the story in other collections are sketches and woodcuts of Robin Rentoul the "Duddingston Cobbler". The original of one of these drawings is in The Sheep Heid Inn upstairs dining room.
  • Tales of Thomas Neil Thomas Neil, an undertaker in Don's Close, was born in 1730 and died in 1800. Also known as Tom or Tam Neil, during the last forty years of his life he was precentor of the Old Tolbooth Church. Burns, in a letter referring to a version of "Up and warn a' Willie" he received from Neil, refers to him as "of facetious fame", but adds "Tam kenn'd what was what fu' brawlie". In the footnotes written by the collector of those Burns letters, R. H. Cromek, says "he (Tom Neil) had a good strong voice, and was greatly distinguished by his powers of mimicry; as well his humorous manner of singing old Scottish ballads". The most notable character Tam Neil was famous for was one he invented, and then portrayed frequently upon request, with great humour, that he called "The Auld Wife". Mary Clementina Hibbert-Ware calls him "that son of song, possessed of greater local notoriety in his time than any other man in Edinburgh". His notoriety was certainly more than just "local" if the descriptions of Tam Neil found in books from all over Scotland are to be believed. The Transactions of the Hawick Archaeological Society gives a particularly long description of Tam, describing him as "formed for the very purpose of smoothing the wrinkled brow of care". One story about Tam Neil occurs at Duddingston, in the village alehouse. Presumably this refers to the Sheep Heid Inn, as the reference seems to suggest there is only one alehouse in Duddingston. In M. C. Hibbert-Ware's version the location of the inn is certainly given in detail, and is assuredly The Sheep Heid Inn. The story itself involves the irate landlady of the public house, a coffin, and a rascal that cannot pass an alehouse without stopping for a drink even if he has no money and should be working. Like all rascals, though, he nevertheless gets away with it! Other stories about Tam Neil can be found in many books of the day.

Research Tips

Refer to the Parish of Duddingston

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