As you would imagine the town of Musselburgh is named after the vast mussel beds that lie along the shoreline. This town on the Firth of Forth is located at the mouth of the River Esk and was at one point nothing more than a row of simple fisherman’ s cottages perched along the coastline close to the harbour. The origins of the town though are much older and date as far back as roman times when the area was home to a fortified outpost located upon Inveresk Hill.

Photo by Candyschwartz
Photo by Candyschwartz

The town here existed long before the city of Edinburgh and a local folk song claims that the town will still be there when Edinburgh is gone. There is a lot of history to be found in the town and it is worth exploring in order to find some hinder architectural gems which remain from times long past. There are National Trust properties to explore, as well as ancient buildings such as the toll booth which can be found in the High Street which can be dated back as far as 1590. The Mercat (Market) cross that you see dates back to the 1700’s yet stands on the site of a much older cross dating from medieval times.

Things to See and Do

Everything you find here has some link to the past. From Musselburgh Racecourse which has been hosting events since 1816 to the Musselburgh Links golf course which hosted the first ever Open Golf Championship. According to ancient ledgers the course dates back at least as far as 1672 which places it in the record books as the oldest surviving course in the world. The town is located only six miles from the incredible city of Edinburgh which makes it a perfect place to stay if you want to explore the region. It was during the 12th century that the town was developed from being the simple fishing village farming mussels on the sea bed. It was designed to be able to rival neighbouring Edinburgh in both design and appeal.

Places to Visit

Newhailes is a property under the care of the National Trust for Scotland and offers a glimpse of bygone times. The building began life as a 17th century villa but over the years was developed by the Dalrymple family that lived there. What you see when you visit today has been immaculately restored to its former glory, even the original hand painter wallpaper remains in place. The landscape around the property is inviting and leads you through woodland walks and water gardens towards a beautiful summerhouse and shell grotto.

If you like your history a little more rugged, pay a visit to Craigmillar Castle. Widely regarded as one of the best preserved castles in the country, it still presents the appearance of being very much the medieval stronghold that it once was. The castle is linked with Mary Queen of Scots and the murder of her husband. Wherever you look around Musselburgh you will find that the past is not very far away.