5 Edinburgh Streetname Derivations

20 Feb

Do you know the story behind the name of the street you live on? Streetnames, or odonyms, can present all sorts of interesting historical portraits and anecdotes. Here are the stories behind five Edinburgh streets:

1. The Royal Mile – It is in fact 12% longer than a regular mile


The name ‘The Royal Mile’ was first used in W M Gilbert’s Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century in 1901, and was further popularised as the title of a guidebook, published in 1920.

2. Princes Street – Sticklers for Grammar Think it Should Have an Apostrophe


Soon to be the sight of tram journeys and no doubt a few political rallies, Princes Street was originally to have been called St Giles Street after the patron saint of Edinburgh. Plans changed however when King George III discovered St Giles was also  the patron saint of lepers. The street was named after King George’s two eldest sons, Prince George, Duke of Rothesay (later King George IV) and Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany.

3. Ravelston Dykes – Famously Genteel


Ravelston Dykes, formerly known as Ravelston Dykes Road was named after Ravelston House. The house was built in 1790 for Alexander Keith, Knight-Marischal of Scotland, and is now A-listed. Sir Walter Scott was a regular visitor. The building is now part of Mary Erskine School.

4. Alan Breck Gardens – An Interesting Literary Connection

alan breck

This distinctive name came out of a South Clermiston scheme where all streetnames were selected from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, “Kidnapped”. The appropriate Committee felt this theme was suitable because of Stevenson’s connection with Edinburgh and in his novel it was Clermiston Hill that David Balfour crossed before looking down on old Ebenezer’s house.

5. Breadalbane Street – Home to Blair Cadell Solicitors

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Breadalbane Street is named after a region of the southern/central Scottish Highlands in Atholl. The district is bounded on the north by Lochaber, on the south by Strathearn and Monteith and on the west by Lorn and Lochaber. The area gives a title to the Marquis of Breadalbane. At the time Breadalbane Street was named  the Earldom was held by Gavin Campbell, 7th Earl and 1st Marquis of Breadalbane, a liberal politician.

If you would like to find out more about the streets of Edinburgh, take a look at this website, which documents the history behind dozens of Edinburgh streets and areas.

(images:RonnieMacdonald/Berndt Rostad/FlickrCC)

(This piece was taken from another blog I write at Blair Cadell, a leading firm of Edinburgh solicitors. You can find other pieces I have written for Blair Cadell by clicking this link. Subjects range from Edinburgh property to the impact of the trams on local business, Scottish independence and beyond. Take a look!)

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