Musselburgh East Lothian Scotland

Musselburgh East Lothian named after the place for mussel’s, referring to the shellfish, and burgh derived from Place. The original settlement and harbour in the present Burgh was between the high ground of Inveresk and the River Esk up the river at the old bridge. When the roman army occupied Inveresk from 142 A.D. – 163 A.D. the shore line of the Firth of Forth was 500 metres inland from its present position. Boats could navigate up the Esk River as far as the Roman Bridge. In the 13th century the town centre had shifted to the lands of Pinkie the jurisdiction of the Abbots of Dunfermline who were granted a charter in 1070 by King Malcolm III. The town centre has been here for 700 years. The Mussel Shell stands near the start of Musselburgh East Lothian on the sea shore. 

Mussel in Musselburgh

The Mussel in Musselburgh is a 12 feet high mussel shell sculpted from stainless which can be seen on the Edinburgh Road on the main road into Musselburgh. Musselburgh was associated with mussels and oysters along with sea fishing.

St Peter’s at the Gate Musselburgh East Lothian

St Peter’s Church in Musselburgh stand at the old gates to Musselburgh. St Peter’s Church was built circa 1862. The pillars that stand at both sides of the road once held the east gates to Musselburgh. The Pillars have been moved to make way for the present road.   

St Peters @ the East Gate to Musselburgh

Musselburgh East Lothian ‘Honest Toun.’

In 1201 the nation’s nobility gathered there to pledge allegiance to the future Alexander II, aged just 4, in the presence of his father William the Lion. In the fourteenth century, the Regent of Scotland died in Musselburgh after a long illness during which he was cared for by the local people. When his successor offered to reward the people, they refused saying that they were only doing their duty. Thus, the townspeople became famed for their honesty: since then Musselburgh has been known as the ‘Honest Toun.’ Musselburgh and the Riding of the Marches. This ancient custom happens once every 21 years. The Musselburgh Riding of the Marches was first mentioned in the record books in the late 1600s. The Musselburgh Marches only take place once every 21 years.  The origins of the riding of the marches (land borders) The lords (Laird’s) (landowners) would appoint a leading person who would be tasked to ride around the borders of the lords (Laird’s) land to ensure that no-one had been stealing sheep or cattle and the boundary walls and fences were still in the correct places, as neighbouring landowners would try and increase their land area by moving the boundaries. Musselburgh also has an annual festival. The first festival, known as The Honest Toun Festival was held in 1936, which is not allowed to impose on the Riding of the Marches.

Musselburgh East Lothian Riding of the Marches

The Riding of The Marches is a week long festival for all ages and events are held each day. The final day a procession through the streets of the town which symbolising the riding around the land borders with the town champion leading the procession in his armour and carrying the town standard.  

For the 21st adversary horses were displayed around Musselburgh area.

  Bonnie Burgh Beauty Crillie Gelato

 Giai Gustav Horsey McHorseface Madame Pompidou Nipper

 Pinkie Taylor Thunderbolt Wally

Musselburgh Mercat Cross Musselburgh East Lothian

The Musselburgh Mercat Cross dates from circa 1740 and stands on the site of the original medieval cross. At the top of the pillar stands a lion holding a shield with the Musselburgh Coat of Arms inscribed on it. The mercat cross was where public proclamations would be announced to the residents of the towns. 

 Musselburgh Mercat Cross  Plaque on Musselburgh East Lothian Mercat Cross


The Musselburgh Tolbooth and Tower Musselburgh East Lothian

Musselburgh Tolbooth was built in 1496 and the tower is the only original part that still survives. The original clock was gift by the Dutch. In 1544 the Earl of Hertford Edward Seymour 1st Duke of Somerset on Henry VIII orders was sent to Burn Edinburgh and whatever on the way. This was an attack by the English sea-borne army and the first major action of the war of the Rough Wooing.  Musselburgh was burnt but the tower of the Tolbooth survived.

The Tolbooth was built adjoining the tower in 1590. The Building was built from the remnants of the chapel and hermitage of Our Lady of Leureit, which was used as a hospital for the dead and wounded at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547. The Chapel and Hermitage was destroyed as many other places of worship were destroyed during the Reformation in 1544.

Musselburgh East Lothian Tolbooth

British Open Golf Champions Musselburgh East Lothian

The first open golf Championship was held in 1860, was played over 3 rounds of golf consisting of 12 holes per round. Willie Park beat Tom Morris to become champion. All the named winners on the plaque were local Musselburgh born. Bob Ferguson had a shot named the “Musselburgh Iron” using his putter from of the green.

Bronze Plaque to Open Golf Champions

At the top of the steps of the Tolbooth in Musselburgh is a Bronze plaque which reads; 

ROLL OF HONOUR | OPEN GOLF CHAMPIONS | WILLIE PARK Senior 1860, 1863 1866 1875 | all at Prestwick | MUNGO PARK 1874 | at Musselburgh | BOB FERGUSON 1880, 1881, 1882 | Musselburgh, Prestwick, St Andrews | DAVID (DEACON) BROWN 1885 | Musselburgh | WILLIE PARK Junior 1887, 1889 | Prestwick and Musselburgh 

Sir Walter Scott Musselburgh East Lothian

Sir Walter Scott  Lived in Musselburgh and at 57 High Street Prestonpans circa 1800 while on duty as the Quarter Master of the Edinburgh Light Horse. He was injured why on Portobello Beach where the Edinburgh Light Horse drilled. While recovering he completed  “The Lay of the last Minstrel”. The plaque above reads;    

Sir Walter Scott bronze plaque Tolbooth Musselburgh


Musselburgh War Memorial Fountain

The War Memorial fountain was unveiled on Remembrance Sunday 2000. This commemoration is to the residents of Musselburgh who did not return from  World War II over 200 residents.

War Memorial Drinking Fountain Musselburgh

Lewisvale Park Musselburgh

Lewisvale Park public park situated on the Inveresk road opposite Musselburgh High School. The land was purchased in 1910 by the Brown brothers from the Esk Grove Estate and they had a park and gardens laid. Which were opened in 1911 in memory of their deceased father. The Park was named Lewisvale after the Brown’s childhood home. The park has a secure children’s play area a bandstand, gardens and an aviary which is in a walled garden area. It also has a cricket Square and Tennis courts. There is a Lamppost which was erected in honour of Jessie Burns Musselburgh’s only Lady Provost,1974. The Post was moved to this position in 2000. The Bandstand was erected circa 1909 and was made in the Lion Foundry in Kirkintilloch “No 33 bandstand,1909”.

 Lewisvale Park Children's Play Area Lewisvale Park Gardens and Aviary Lewisvale Park Aviary

 Lewisvale Park Lady Provosts Lamp Post Lewisvale Park Lady Provosts Lamp Post plaque 

Lewisvale Park Bandstand


Lewisvale Park stone pillar, forming part of a stone wall. It is inscribed “Protector Duke of Somerset’s Encampment 1547”. After the death of Henry VIII in January 1547 the Duke of Somerset (Edward Seymour) became Protector of England until Prince Edward, later to be Edward VI came of age. Somerset lead an army and a fleet of ships into Scotland which resulted in the Battle of Pinkie Cleuch. Esk Grove Estate was his camp after the battle.

  Musselburgh Museum

Musselburgh Museum Roman Bridge Musselburgh East Lothian

The original Roman Bridge over the river Esk is said to have been built by the Romans in the 6th century and a bridge has been in the same position since that time, all be it the bridge has been rebuilt in part and a third arch has been added. The bridge is still in use as it originally was, a foot bridge that the Romans used the Jacobite’s, Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 and also the English during the reformation and Cromwell. Musselburgh is believed to be one of the oldest towns in Scotland becoming a Burgh in 1354 and became a Royal Burgh in 1632 and was first quoted as The Honest Toun” in 1332 after attending to the Regent at no cost. (see plaque on Musselburgh Mercat Cross)

Roman Bridge Musselburgh  Archer Stands beside the Roman Bridge

On the west bank of the River Esk near to the Roman Bridge a sculpture of a bronze Archer can be seen. The Musselburgh Archer is a life size figure of a roman warrior from the invasion of Scotland in 80 AD.  The sculpture also depicts the historic archery competition “The Musselburgh Silver Arrow” circa 1600.

The Silver arrow was competed for on Musselburgh links annually by the members of the Royal Company of Archers. The winner receiving a sliver arrow which he would keep for one year and attach a medal of gold or silver with his name and date before returning the arrow. The actual date the competition started is vague with minutes of meetings stating 1603, but prior to that date winners of one dated 101 with two prior to that. 

 New Bridge Musselburgh East Lothian

 The New Bridge was built in 1806 and designed by John Rennie the Elder a Scottish civil engineer born in 1761 in Phantassie, near East Linton.

Musselburgh New Bridge

Brunton Theatre Musselburgh East Lothian

Musselburgh was bequeathed more than ½ million pounds in 1951 from the estate of John D Brunton, the son of the founder of Brunton Wire Works to provide halls and other municipal buildings’ which was constructed between 1964 and 1970 known as The Brunton Halls. The Brunton Theatre and Halls in Musselburgh, is the community hub of Musselburgh where many activities take place. It is also available to hire for private and corporate functions weddings and conferences. Within 20 minutes of Edinburgh by taxi and 10 minutes by train it is perfectly positioned. The Queen Mother opened the building 1971.

 Brunton Theatre Musselburgh East Lothian Brunton Halls and Brunton Theatre Musselburgh

Electric Bridge Musselburgh East Lothian

The Electric Bridge was built by the Cockenzie power Station to enable the turbines to be transported without using the high street and crossing the bridge which would not hold their weight The electric bridge only opens on Musselburgh race-days as the town council refused to buy the bridge from Cockenzie power station. 

Electric Bridge Musselburgh

 Fisherrow Harbour Musselburgh East Lothian

Evidence of the existence of a harbour here circa 1600 with many boats listed in the 1620s working from here. However it is said the first harbour was positioned at the mouth of the River Esk remembering the shore line circa 1500 was 500 yards inland from its present position. Rebuilding took place in 1806 and 1850. 

Fisherrow Harbour Musselburgh  Fisherrow Harbour Musselburgh East Lothian

Newhailes House Musselburgh

Sir Alexander Seton, Viscount Kingston, heirs sold the lands of Hailes which included the then ruined castle to David Dalrymple in 1700. David Dalrymple (Lord Hailes) purchased the Whitehill estate in 1709. David Dalrymple was the fifth and youngest son of James Dalrymple, 1st Viscount of Stair. New Hailes House was famous for its library quote by Dr Johnson “the most learned room in Europe.” The House remained in the Dalrymple family until Lady Antonia Dalrymple sold it to The National Trust in 1996. There is an obelisk in the grounds of the estate with inscriptions that read;

New Hailes House

Stair (Obelisk) Monument

Stair's Obelisk Monument 


Newhailes Summerhouse


Newhailes Shell Grotto

Newhailes Do’cot


Newhailes Curling Pond

Newhailes House Children’s Activity Area


Newhailes Estate Nature Walk

Newhailes Estate Nature Walk

Musselburgh East Lothian Racecourse and Musselburgh Golf Links

Musselburgh Links is situated in the middle of the Musselburgh Racecourse. There is written evidence of golf being played on Musselburgh Links on 2 March 1672 but in other books of history it is said that Mary Queen of Scots played at the links circa 1560. The Musselburgh Links held the Open Golf Championships in 1874, 1877, 1880, 1883, 1886, 1889. The Claret Jug was first played for at St Andrews in 1873. Golf is also mentioned in Parliament in 1457. With golf being played on Bruntsfield Links Edinburgh prior to that date. 

  Musselburgh Racecourse Race-day  

The Royal Burgess Golfing Society of Edinburgh 10 Links Place now Balcarres Road Musselburgh next to the race track and golf course. Now used by Musselburgh Links “Old Course Golf Club” founded 1982  Musselburgh Links is where the Open Golf Championship was played for the first time in 1874. Previously it was held from 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club.

Royal Musselburgh Golf Club 9 Links Place now Balcarres Road Musselburgh next to the race track and golf course was the first club house at Musselburgh Links 1872. 


The Plaques read: Musselburgh 5 Open Champions Bob Ferguson 1880, 1881, 1882. Mungo Park 1874. Willie Park Snr. 1860, 1863, 1866, 1875. Willie Park Jnr 1887, 1889. David Brown 1886. The second plaque honours Willie Dunn Jr. First unofficial winner of the U.S Open Championship. Willie Campbell first professional Brookline County Club Massachusetts.


Willie Park Snr, 1833-1903 was the winner of the first Open Golf Championship and a further three Open Golf Championships lived and died in Musselburgh at No 23 Ravensheugh where the plaque has been erected in his honour. 

   No 23 Ravensheugh Musselburgh  Willie Park Snr. Musselburgh Open Golf Champion

The Estuary of the River Esk Musselburgh East Lothian

The River Esk estuary is in Musselburgh East Lothian and flows from two separate sources. The first (the north Esk) is from the Pentland Hills near Carlops, West Lothian and the second (the south Esk) from  the west slopes of Blackhope Scar in the Moorfoot Hills in the Scottish Borders. They join together just outside Dalkeith in Midlothian and finish at the Firth of Forth in Musselburgh. The River Esk at one time was the border between Scotland and England.

The images below show, Looking down the Esk from Musselburgh and The Esk estuary with Edinburgh and Arthur Seat in the distance.

 Musselburgh East Lothian River Esk Estuary  River Esk Estuary (Low Tide)

The Hayweights Clock

The Hay-weights clock was stood on top of a kiosk on the corner of the road where the Brunton Halls now stand a landmark known by all which marked the site of the municipal weighbridge. The clock faces are now at the gazebo on Mall Avenue and the original clock workings are in the clock at Eskmills.

The Hayweights Clock

Eskmills Musselburgh

Stuart House is the man building in Eskmills built in 1867 which was where the spinning and weaving was carried out. Archibald Hope was one of two brothers who owned Eskmills. Stuart House is named after the land owner Sir Archibald Hope a wealthy merchant and coal colliery owner.

Archibald Hope House

Stuart House

The Clock is powered by the mechanism previously from the Hayweights Clock a previous Musselburgh icon.

The weighbridge is in courtyard outside the dispatch warehouse.

The restaurant that is in the Eskmills courtyard was originally built as offices for the Stuart brothers the original building was renovated into the present building with a new dome.

Old Engine house built 1857

 Col James Paterson Fishing Net Machine

Fishing nets and lobster pots

Col James Paterson a local man of Musselburgh returned home circa 1810 and invented a machine capable of tying knots in fishing nets in 1812. On James Paterson’s death his company and patent were bought by J.W. Stewart in 1849 who established a new factory at Esk net mill Musselburgh. The company became the number one manufacturer of nets in the world with over 800 workers and worldwide sales. With the introduction of man-made fibres and new technology the factory declined and closed in 1979 The company was purchased and is now situated in Eyemouth.   

Town House Musselburgh

Typical Property of 18th Century Musselburgh with archway entrance under windows to courtyard.

Typical Property of 18th Century Musselburgh with entrance under windows to courtyard

Pinkie House Musselburgh

Sir Alexander Seton born in Seton 1555 son of 7th Lord Seton purchased Pinkie House in 1593 after becoming Lord President of the Court of Session. The house was a ruin after the battle of Pinkie Cleuch 1547. He rebuilt the former mansion which had also been a hospital into what can be seen today one of very few residences that have been unspoiled. Pinkie house was a place that the young prince Charles later to be Charles I spent much of his childhood. The House changed hands through the years until 1951 when it became the property of Loretto School.  The fountain was built circa 1607 which stands outside the main door to Pinkie House, possibly to commemorate his marriage to Margaret Hay. The oldest part of Pinkie house that remained from before it part destruction in 1547 is the main tower circa 1130 built by the Abbots of Dunfermline.

Pinkie House

Pinkie Do’cot

The Pinkie Do’cot built by the Alexander Seton after his marriage to Margaret Hay with the initials on a stone tablet and date unreadable the letters AS MH intertwined. With a crown above. The other tablet has one of three crescents (the crest of the Seton family) topped by a crown.

 Marriage Stone Alexander Seton & Margaret Hay AS MH Pinkie Do'cot Seton Crest

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