A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Duddingston, a village and a coast parish of Midlothian. The village, 13/8 mile WSW of Portobello station, and 2½ miles SE by E of Edinburgh Post Office through the Queen's Park, stands, at an altitude of 150 feet above sea-level, at the south-eastern base of Arthur's Seat and near the north-eastern shore of Duddingston Loch. With background of hill, and foreground of park and manse and antique kirk and lake, it is itself a pretty little place, consisting of a small back street and a single row of plain good old-fashioned villas- At it are an inn, a post office under Edinburgh, and a plastered house to the E in which Prince Charles Edward is said to have passed the night before the battle of Prestonpans; whilst at Duddingston Mills, a hamlet ¼ mile nearer Portobello, are a public school and Cauvin's Hospital. A plain white villalike building this, founded by Louis Cauvin, French teacher in Edinburgh, and afterwards farmer at Duddingston, who, dying in 1825, bequeathed his property for the maintenance and education of the sons of poor but honest teachers and farmers, or, failing such, master-printers, booksellers, and farm servants. It was opened in 1833, and gives instruction to 17 boys in classics, modern languages, mathematics, etc.

The parish, containing also the town of Portobello and Joppa, and the village of Easter Duddingston, is bounded N by South Leith, NE by the Firth of Forth, S by Liberton, SW by St Cuthberts, and W by Canongate. Its utmost length is 35/8 miles from ENE to WSW, viz., from the Firth, at the mouth of Burdiehouse Burn, to the old Dalkeith road above Echo Bank; its utmost width is 1¼ mile; and its area is 1899½ acres, of which 143 are foreshore and 25½ water. Burdiehouse or Brunstane Burn winds 2 miles east-north-eastward to the Firth along the Liberton border, which westwards, near Peffermill, is traced for ½ mile by the straightened Burn of Braid; and the Burn of Braid, or Figgate, or Jordan (its aliases are many), thereafter flows 2½ miles north-eastward to the Firth at the NW end of Portobello, through Duddingston Park and the wooded dell of Duddingston Mills- Reed-fringed Duddingston Loch, 580 yards long, and from 70 to 267 yards wide, was cleared of its weeds, and thereby greatly improved, in the summer of 1881. It is truly a beautiful little sheet of water, in summer with its swans and waterfowl, in winter with its crowds of skaters and curlers, and always with the church, the boathouse tower, and the bold Hangman's Craig. The coast-line is low, though rocky to the E, whose boulder-clay mussel-beds gave name to Musselburgh; and the shore is fringed with a terrace or raised sea-beach that marks the former margin of the Firth. Inland the surface is gently undulating but nowhere hilly, attaining its highest point (300 feet) at the eastern shoulder of Dunsapie -Rock, and everywhere so dominated by Arthur's Seat (822 feet) as to look flatter than it really is. The rocks are mainly carboniferous, in the W belonging to the Calciferous Sandstone series, next to the Carboniferous Limestone series, and to the coal-measures in the furthest E, and yielding coal, sandstone, limestone, and brick clay. The soil is loamy, resting on strong clay, towards the SE; light and sandy along the coast; and elsewhere a brownish earth of no great natural fertility. Less than two centuries since the entire parish was an unreclaimed moor, covered with sand, and diversified only by the stunted growth of the Figgate Whins, that forest where Wallace is said to have mustered his forces for the siege of Berwick, and Gibson of Durie to have been pounced upon by Christie's Will.* But about 1688, the owner of Prestonfield, Sir James Dick, became Lord Provost of Edinburgh; and, better acquainted than his contemporaries with the fertilising powers of city manure, availed himself of ready and thankful permission to enrich therewith the sterile soil of his estate. So successful were his policy and example that, arid and worthless as Duddingston had been, it ranks now among the most highlyrented land in the United Kingdom, with its lush grassmeadows and steam-tilled cornfields. In 1745, James Hamilton, eighth Earl of Abercorn (1712-89), bought from the Duke of Argyll the barony of Duddingston, and here, in 1768, built Duddingston House, a Grecian pile designed by Sir William Chambers, which cost, with its pleasure-grounds, £30,000, and now stands in a finely-wooded park. His descendant and namesake, the first Duke and tenth Earl of Abercorn (b. 1811; suc. 1818), holds 1500 acres in Midlothian, valued at £7400 per annum. Prestonfield is the other chief mansion; and 4 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 52 of between £100 and £500,125 of from £50 to £100, and 130 of from £20 to £50. The Fishwives' Causey, an obscure by-road near Portobello brickworks, is an undoubted fragment of the Roman road between Inveresk and Cramond; and over Burdiehouse Burn, leading up to Brunstane House, is a beautiful old bridge, Roman so-called; whilst from the bed or shores of Duddingston Loch bronze implements have been dredged or dug up in such numbers as to suggest that in the Age of Bronze an extensive manufacture of weapons must have been carried on at its margin. In Duddingston died Sir John Hay (1600-54), a senator of the College of Justice; in Duddingston was educated William Smellie (1740-95), the printer-naturalist; and in Duddingston, son of a farmer at Clearburn, was born the Rev. Thomas Gillespie (1708-74), founder of the Relief body. But the name associated most closely with the parish is that of the great landscape painter, its minister from 1805, the Rev. John Thomson (17781840)-` Thomson of Duddinston, heavy and strong, ' as Dr John Brown calls him-who at the manse here was visited by Sir Walter Scott, John Clerk of Eldin, Sir Thomas Dick Lander, Turner, Wilkie, etc. In the presbytery of Edinburgh and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, this parish is divided ecclesiastically into Portobello and Duddingston, the latter a living worth £440. The church, with chancel, nave, N transept, low square tower, 350 sittings, and organ, dates from the Norman era of church architecture, and under William the Lyon (1166-1214) was acquired by the monks of Kelso Abbey. It has been grievously knocked about and added to at various periods, a window of the transept bearing date 1621, but it still retains a beautiful chancel arch and S doorway of Romanesque workmanship; and at the churchyard gate the old ' loupin'-on-stane' is still to be seen, with the iron jougs hanging beside. The public school, with accommodation for 147 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 57, and a grant of £40,14s. Valuation (1882) £14,450, exclusive of Portobello, but including £2604 for railways. Pop. (1801) 1003, (1831) 3862, (1861) 5159, (1871) 6369, (1881) 7815, of whom 1124 were in Duddingston ecclesiastical parish.—Ord. Sur. sh. 32, 1857. See J. W. Small's -Leaves from my Sketch-Books (Edinb. 1880).

* Falsely, since the seizure took place near his own seat in Fife (Hill Burton, Hist. Scot., vi. 17, ed. 1876). See Durie.

Duddingston, Easter, a village in Duddingston parish, Midlothian, 1¼ mile ESE of Portobello station.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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