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Ratho (Scottish Gaelic: Ràthach) is a village and civil parish in the west of Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. It was formerly in the old county of Midlothian. Newbridge and Kirkliston are other villages in the area. The Union Canal passes through Ratho. Edinburgh Airport is situated only 4 miles (7 km) away.
Ratho is the site of stone age circles atop Tormain Hill, carved into the rocks, and a 'witches stone' and. When the witches stone was moved by the land owner for farming, it was believed evil spirits were released into the village. It is believed that the name Ratho comes from Rathach, Scottish Gaelic, for a place where there is an old fort.
On pre-1800s maps where place-name spellings varied wildly, Ratho is sometimes referred to as Rathue or Rathua. In 1817 Ratho was separated into "Ratho" (the main village) "Ratho Byers" and "Ratho Bank".
There are a number of old buildings in the area. The most prominent of these was Haltoun House or castle (pronounced, and sometimes spelt, Hatton), which was badly damaged by fire in the mid-1950s and subsequently taken down. This magnificent country house evolved from its central core, a Norman keep, or what Scots call a Pele Tower. In 1371 the manor and lands of Haltoun were resigned to the Crown by John de Haltoun, and were regranted to Alan de Lawedre [Lauder] of that Ilk who then resided mostly at Whitslaid Tower just outside Lauder. Haltoun Tower was damaged during the House of Douglas troubles of 1452, when a note in the Treasurers' Accounts show funds being provided for its repair. The Haltoun estates remained in the Lauder family until the latter half of the 17th century when they passed by marriage to Charles Maitland, 3rd Earl of Lauderdale, who enlarged and beautified Hatton House.
Parish Church (St Marys)
This is a medieval church of uncertain age but dating from at least the 12th century. The east aisle is dated 1683. West of the south aisle (1830) half of an ornmate 12thc doorway is still visible. Generally the church has never been grand, but it bears the hallmarks of centuries of evolutionary change, and is the more interesting for that. The interior was generally denuded in 1932 including loss of the 18th century gallery. A 13th century memorial lies in the south porch. One curious feature is the bell, which was rung by an external chain, the groove from which has carved itself into the stonework below the bell.
The churchyard is of equal antiquity and interest. Its greatest oddity is a hollowed out panelled "coffin stone" which bears witness to its occupant, William Mitchell (d.1809) having been killed "by the stroke of a threshing machine". Richard Lauder, the last Lauder laird of Haltoun, was interred in the graveyard on November 29, 1675. Other graves of note are Thomas Wilkie (d.1679) and William Anderson (d.1756).
A new cemetery of far less character now lies on the NE outskirts of the village, slightly out of sight from the churchyard.
Ratho is served by three bus services. Lothian Buses X12 gives the village an express (limited stop) link to Ratho Station, Ingliston Park and Ride, Corstorphine, and The City Centre. Service 12 provides a similar service as the X12, but goes via South Gyle and Broomhouse on its way to the city centre; it then continues directly towards Leith and Seafield, Edinburgh, but is not a limited stop service. E&M Horsburgh's service 40/X40 connects Ratho to East Calder, Livingston and St. Johns Hospital in one direction and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in the other direction.
Ratho is located close to both the M8 and the M9 motorways. The A8 and A71 run parallel to the north and the south of the village. These are two of the major roads running into Edinburgh. There is a network of paths around Ratho and the surrounding area, and you can also walk or cycle along the canal towpath.
The Union Canal at Ratho is the location of Edinburgh Canal Centre, founded in 1989 by Ronnie Rusack MBE. The Seagull Trust is a boating charity offering free cruises to disabled people since 1979. It also boasts the only dry dock on the Union Canal. Either side of Bridge 15 are a series of artworks relating to the canal's history. Many of these can be used as seating.
Edinburgh International Climbing Arena
Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, the largest indoor climbing centre in Europe, and one of the biggest in the world, opened in October 2004 near Ratho, on the bank of the Union Canal. The centre was closed for the end of 2006 and partially open for the first quarter of 2007. It has had some major works completed and is now fully operational. It boasts 2,400m² of artificial climbing surface, including 400m² of free-standing boulders, there are also plans for an additional bouldering room, however which was to open around July 2007. The centre is unique in its use of covered natural rock. Competitive and amateur climbers are attracted from around the world and the centre provides training up to World Cup competition standard. Above the climbing arena is SkyRide, a 150m aerial assault course taking 10–30 minutes. In addition there is also a large gym, with new equipment and a spa facility.
Ratho climbing centre was inspired and designed by Edinburgh based Architect David Taylor and was assisted by experienced climbers Rab Anderson and Duncan McCallum.
- Smith, John Alexander (1872-74). "Notes of Rock Sculpturings of Cups and Concentric rings, and 'The Witch's Stone' on Tormain Hill; also of some Early Remains on the Kaimes Hill, &c., near Ratho, Edinburghshire.". Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland 10: 141–51.
- Allen, J Romilly (1881-82). "Notes on some Undescribed Stones with Cup-Markings in Scotland.". Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland 16: 79–85.
- Buildings of Scotland: Lothian by Colin Mcwilliam
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- Seagull Trust, boating charity offering free boating for disabled people
- The Edinburgh International Climbing Arena: Ratho
- Ratho on Google Maps - The M8 is visible to the North and the Union Canal runs West to East. The Adventure Centre is clearly visible between the two, and Ratho itself is to the East.