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Merchiston is located in Edinburgh
Location within Edinburgh
OS grid referenceNT244721
Council area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townEdinburgh
Postcode districtEH10
Dialling code0131(337)
EU ParliamentScotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°56′11″N 3°12′34″W / 55.9365°N 3.2095°W / 55.9365; -3.2095Coordinates: 55°56′11″N 3°12′34″W / 55.9365°N 3.2095°W / 55.9365; -3.2095

Merchiston is a prosperous, mainly residential area in the south-west of Edinburgh, Scotland. The housing is primarily a mixture of large, late Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian villas – several of the latter by Edward Calvert – together with a smaller number of Victorian tenements and some relatively large, early-20th century villas. In recent years many of these villas have been subjected to development with blocks of flats being built in their once expansive gardens and the original houses themselves being divided into small numbers of flats.

Merchiston Tower

A campus forming a major part of Edinburgh Napier University is in the area; it includes Merchiston Tower (or Castle), once the home of John Napier, 8th Laird of Merchiston and the inventor of logarithms. The university also uses a variety of other buildings in this and surrounding areas, such as former schools and churches, some of which would otherwise have been demolished or made into further flats. The tower was sold by the Honourable John Scott Napier, 14th Laird of Merchiston in 1914 to the Merchiston Castle School board who used it up until 1930 when the school moved to a new site at Colinton (whilst retaining the Merchiston Castle name).

The area is home to writers Ian Rankin (author of the Inspector Rebus novels), Lin Anderson, Colin Douglas, Alexander McCall Smith (author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels) and comedian Dylan Moran.[citation needed] J.K. Rowling had her Edinburgh home in Merchiston for many years [1] but has since moved to Killiechassie.[2] Merchiston was also the childhood home of Scotland and British Lions rugby legends Gavin Hastings and Scott Hastings.

Other nearby areas include Morningside to the southeast, Burghmuirhead (including Holy Corner and Church Hill) to the east and Bruntsfield to the northeast.


The first known reference to Merchiston is found in the 1266 Exchequer Rolls of Scotland.[3] At this point Merchiston consisted of one of a number of independently owned estates to the southwest of the Burgh Muir. Alexander Napier, a wealthy Edinburgh merchant and provost of the city, acquired the estate from James I of Scotland in 1438.[4] He or his son, also Alexander, were responsible for the construction of Merchiston Tower in the mid 15th century.

Merchiston Castle School was founded in the area in 1828, moving to Merchiston Tower in 1833.[5]


View towards Holy Corner from Colinton Road

Merchiston spans the catchment areas for Boroughmuir and Tynecastle secondary schools. Primary education is provided by Craiglockhart Primary School and Bruntsfield Primary School. Also in the area are a number of independent schools including George Watson's College, Merchiston Castle School and a Steiner School.

On the fringes of the area where it meets Craiglockhart (to the west) is the suburban railway line, which is mooted for reopening. To the north of the area is the Union Canal. North of the canal (in the area sometimes known as North Merchiston or Shandon and sometimes taken to be part of Polwarth) is the site of the former Merchiston railway station, a railway station on the now-closed Caledonian Railway line to Edinburgh Princes Street railway station.

Harrison Park, a popular community park roughly 7 hectares in size is located to the northwest of Merchiston. The park provides a range of recreational facilities including pitches, play area, cycle path and a formal garden.[6]

External links[edit]

  1. ^ "More homes with literary credentials". Daily Telegraph.
  2. ^ Sexton, Colleen A., 1967- (2006). J.K. Rowling. Cosgrove, Martha. Minneapolis, Minn.: Lerner Publications. ISBN 0822534231. OCLC 60715146.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "History". Merchiston Community Council. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  4. ^ "Memoirs of John Napier of Merchiston - Histories of Scottish families - National Library of Scotland". Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  5. ^ "HISTORY & TRADITION". Merchiston Castle School. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  6. ^ Council, The City of Edinburgh. "Harrison Park". Retrieved 7 August 2019.