(Dùn Èideann)

Classification and Statistics

Settlement Type: city
Population (2011): 482005    
(2001): 430082
(1991): 401910
(1981): 420168
(Combined with Currie)
(1971): 453584
(1961): 468361
(1951): 466761
(1901): 298069
(Parliamentary Burgh)
(1891): 263646
(1881): 228190
(1871): 196988
(1861): 168121
(1851): 160302
(1841): 140241
(1831): 136294
(1821): 112235

Tourist Rating: Four Stars
Text of Entry Updated: 14-MAY-2023

Latitude: 55.9523°N Longitude: 3.1882°W
National Grid Reference: NT 259 739
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Edinburgh's seven hills comprise Blackford Hill and the Braid Hills, which are composed of Lower Devonian rocks, together with Arthur's Seat, Calton Hill, Castle Rock, Corstorphine Hill and the Craiglockhart Hills that represent more recent Carboniferous basaltic volcanic plugs, shaped by the action of glaciation. Significant rivers include the Water of Leith and the River Almond, together with the Braid Burn, Burdiehouse Burn, Pow Burn and Stenhouse Burn.

Edinburgh was the headquarters of the former county of Midlothian until 1975 when it became the centre of Lothian Region (1975-96). The city absorbed the burghs of Canongate and Portsburgh in 1856, Portobello in 1896 and Leith in 1920, together with numerous outlying villages such as Colinton, Corstorphine, Cramond, Davidson's Mains, Dean Village, Duddingston, Liberton, Newcraighall, Restalrig, Slateford and Swanston.

Edinburgh is a city rich in greenspace, most notably the 260 ha / 650 acre Holyrood Park, located immediately to the east of the city centre, but other significant areas include The Meadows, Bruntsfield Links, Craigmillar Castle Jubilee Park, Inch Park, Saughton Park, Inverleith Park, Leith Links, nature reserves at Corstorphine Hill, Craiglockhart Hill, Bawsinch and Duddingston Loch, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the large communal gardens of the New Town and the city's remarkable number of twenty golf courses. However, a once strictly-controlled green-belt intended to surround the city has been gradually eroded by new housing estates, retail parks, the A720 bypass and other developments, such as the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and its associated Edinburgh BioQuarter. The city benefits from pleasant beaches at Cramond, Silverknowes and Portobello.

The city lies at the southeastern extremity of the Scottish motorway network, with the M9 going west northwest to Stirling, the M8 west to Glasgow and the A90/M90 heading north to Perth. Travelling south is dependent on the A1 (a dual carriageway in sections) together with the A702, A7 or A68 through the Scottish Borders. Edinburgh is served by two principal railway stations - Waverley and Haymarket - only 1¼ miles (2 km) apart on a line which cuts through the very heart of the city. There are no suburban passenger lines, and the few suburban stations are on the intercity mainlines west to Glasgow, Stirling and Carstairs, or southeast to London. Edinburgh is connected to the west by the Union Canal (opened in 1822 but revitalised for the Millennium), although this was never completed as far as the Port of Leith. The city also benefits from the only municipally-owned bus company in Scotland, which operates services deep into East Lothian and Midlothian, together with a tram line which opened in 2014. Edinburgh Airport lies only 6 miles (10 km) west of the city centre.

Edinburgh recorded its highest-ever temperature of 31.6°C (88.9°F) on 25th July 2019.

Known in Gaelic as Dùn Èideann, the city's strong point is Castle Rock, which was probably the site of an Iron Age defence, although the oldest building within Edinburgh Castle today dates from the early 12th C. The city developed on the slope which descends to the east from Castle Rock towards Holyrood Palace (now known as the Old Town). Protected to the north by the Nor' Loch, it was enclosed to the south by the Flodden Wall in the early 16th C. A massive expansion of the city came with the construction of the New Town from 1766. The New Town continued to develop well into the 19th C. to include some of the finest Georgian architecture in Europe. The City Improvement Act of 1867 began the process of slum clearance in the decayed Old Town, a process continued in the 1920s and 30s with the development of new public housing estates such as Craigmillar, Lochend, Niddrie and Pilton, but not completed until the 1950s. HM Queen Elizabeth II made Britain's first direct-dialled trunk phone call from Bristol to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh in 1958.

Famous individuals born in Edinburgh include King James VI (1566 - 1625), philosopher David Hume (1711-76), the scientist who prevented scurvy James Lind (1716-94), banker Thomas Coutts (1735 - 1822), biographer James Boswell (1740-95), poet Robert Fergusson (1750-74), philosopher Dugald Stewart (1753 - 1828), author Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832), the brothers Robert Bruce (1789 - 1824) and Charles Alexander Bruce (1793 - 1871) were responsible for establishing the tea industry in Assam (India), surgeon James Syme (1799 - 1870), pioneering fire-fighter James Braidwood (1800-61), antiquarian Prof. Sir Daniel Wilson (1816-92), health pioneer Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn (1826 - 1914), whisky blender Andrew Usher (1826-98), geologist Sir Archibald Geikie (1835 - 1924), inventor Alexander Graham Bell (1847 - 1922), authors Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 - 1930), soldier Field Marshal Douglas Haig (1861 - 1928), artists Samuel Peploe (1871 - 1935), F.C.B. Cadell (1883 - 1937) and Sir William Russell Flint (1880 - 1969), social reformer Marie Stopes (1880 - 1958), actress Jean Cadell (1884 - 1967), plant hunter Sir George Taylor (1904-93), sculptor Hew Lorimer (1907-93), poet Norman MacCaig (1910-96), comedian Ronnie Corbett (1930 - 2016), actor Ian Richardson (1934 - 2007), author of the Flower of Scotland, Roy Williamson (1936-90), broadcaster James Alexander Gordon (1936 - 2014), actress Hannah Gordon (b.1941), boxer Ken Buchanan (b.1945), land speed record holder Richard Noble (b.1946), actor Ian Charleson (1949-90), politician Tony Blair (b.1953), footballer Graeme Souness (b.1953), rugby internationalists Andy Irvine (b.1951) and Gavin Hastings (b.1962), athlete Yvonne Murray (b.1964), presenter Gail Porter (b.1971), judo champion Graeme Randall (b.1975) and cyclist Sir Chris Hoy (b.1976).

A centre of medical science and education since the 17th C., Edinburgh maintains this reputation through the hospitals of NHS Lothian, their relationship with local universities and through the presence of professional bodies; namely the Royal College of Surgeons and a Royal College of Physicians. Edinburgh is also a centre of law, with a Sheriff Court, Court of Session, High Court of Justiciary, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Law Society of Scotland and the headquarters of the Scottish Court Service. Law degrees are offered by three of the city's universities. With a total of more than 42,500 staff, the City of Edinburgh Council, the Scottish Government and NHS Lothian are major employers. Other national institutions and public bodies based in Edinburgh include: the National Galleries of Scotland, National Museums of Scotland, National Library of Scotland, National Records of Scotland, Creative Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Registers of Scotland and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

In addition to the banks, other significant companies with headquarters in the city include insurers Aegon UK and AON UK, fund managers Baillie Gifford, Cala Homes, Cairn Energy, Scottish Gas, and online travel broker SkyScanner. Edinburgh is also home to the administrative headquarters of the Church of Scotland, charities such as the National Trust for Scotland, Barnardo's and the Royal British Legion Scotland, while the Army Headquarters Scotland is at Craigiehall.

Edinburgh also benefits from electronics. Ferranti opened a factory at Crewe Toll in 1943 to make gun-sights for Spitfire aircraft, and there were eventually five plants in the city primarily manufacturing defence electronics. The company became bankrupt in 1993, although was acquired by BAE Systems and part of the business still operates as Leonardo S.p.A. Bruce Peebles was formed in 1866 to manufacture gas meters and later diversified into electrical systems, with plants in Leith (closed 1968) and Granton (closed 1999). Vestiges of this business continue as Parsons Peebles in Rosyth. Micro-electronic design and fabrication also became an important industry, stimulated by the University of Edinburgh where the miniature cameras now present in every webcam and mobile phone were invented. Hewlett Packard's large facility at South Queensferry closed in 2010. Rockstar North, the developer of the computer game Grand Theft Auto has been based in the city since 1999, having begun as DMA Designs in Dundee.

References and Further Reading
Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, The Royal Commission on the (ed.) (1951) The City of Edinburgh: An Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of the City of Edinburgh. His Majesty's Stationery Office, Edinburgh
Arnott, Hugo (1779) The History of Edinburgh. W. Creech, Edinburgh; J. Murray, London
Berry, Elizabeth (1990) The Writing on the Walls. The Cockburn Association, Edinburgh
Boyle, Anne, Colin Dickson, Alasdair McEwan and Colin MacLean (1985) Ruins and Remains: Edinburgh's Neglected Heritage. Scotland's Cultural Heritage, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh.
Craig, G.Y. and P.McL.D. Duff (1975) The Geology of the Lothians and South East Scotland. Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh
Edwards, Brian (ed.) (2005) Edinburgh: Tha Making of a Captital City. Edinburgh University Press
Gifford, John, Colin McWilliam and David Walker (1991) The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh. Penguin, London
Hamilton, Alan (1978) Essential Edinburgh. Andre Deutsch, London
Harris, Stuart (2002) The Place Names of Edinburgh. Steve Savage Publishers Ltd., London
Keir, David (ed.) (1966) The Third Statistical Account of Scotland: The City of Edinburgh . William Collins Sons & Co, Glasgow
Kersting, Anthony F. and Maurice Lindsay (1981) The Buildings of Edinburgh. B.T. Batsford Ltd., London
Lang, Theo (ed.) (1952) The Queen's Scotland: Edinburgh and the Lothians. Hodder and Stoughton, London
Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert (1916) Edinburgh: A Historical Study. Williams and Norgate, London
McKean, Charles, with David Walker (1982) Edinburgh: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. RIAS Publications, Edinburgh
Mullay, Sandy (1996) The Edinburgh Encyclopaedia. Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh
Old Town Renewal Trust and the City of Edinburgh District Council Planning Department (1995) Action Plan for the Old Town: 1995 Action Plan Review. Edinburgh Old Town Renewal Trust, Edinburgh
Old Town Renewal Trust and the City of Edinburgh District Council Planning Department (1996) Edinburgh Old Town Action Plan 1996 - 1997. Edinburgh Old Town Renewal Trust, Edinburgh
Rae, William and The City of Edinburgh District Council (1994) Edinburgh - The New Official Guide. City of Edinburgh District Council and Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh.
Rodger, Johnny, with photographs by John Niall McLean (2001) Edinburgh: A Guide to Recent Architecture. Ellipsis, London
Shepherd, Thomas H. (1831) Modern Athens: Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century. Jones and Co, London
Sherman, Robin (2000) Old Newington, Grange, Liberton and Gilmerton. Stenlake Publishing, Ochiltree
Smith, Charles J. (1998) South Edinburgh in Pictures. Whittinghame House Publishing, Haddington
Smith, Charles J. (2000) Historic South Edinburgh. New and Updated Edition, John Donald, Edinburgh
Stevenson, Robert Louis (1879) Edinburgh Picturesque Notes. Seely, Jackson & Halliday, London
Turnbull, Michael T.R.B. (1992) Edinburgh Characters. Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh
Wallace, Joyce M. (1998) The Historic Houses of Edinburgh. John Donald Publishers Ltd., Edinburgh
Wilson, Daniel (1886) Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time. Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh
Youngson, A.J. (1966) The Making of Classical Edinburgh (1750 - 1840). Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh

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