Scotland’s oldest pub - The Sheep Heid Inn - to re-open after makeover

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Scotland’s oldest pub with centuries of royal connection will re-open on Saturday after a modern makeover – but history fiends are told not to worry, the Sheep Heid Inn’s valued heritage has been maintained.

The popular Skittle Alley, installed nearly 150 years ago, has also been treated to an upgrade thanks to investment from Johnnie Walker.

The re-opening of the Sheep Heid in Duddingston which has had some refurbishment work done and opens fully to the public this Saturday. Pictured is General Manager Chlo� Herbert. Pic: Greg Macvean

The re-opening of the Sheep Heid in Duddingston which has had some refurbishment work done and opens fully to the public this Saturday. Pictured is General Manager Chlo� Herbert. Pic: Greg Macvean

A Royal haunt since 1580, – and host to the Queen in 2016 – King James VI of Scotland, like his mother Mary Queen of Scots, is said to have stopped there many times and even played skittles in the courtyard.

As a mark of his gratitude to the pub, he presented the landlord with an ornate ram’s head snuff box which is likely where the name of the pub originated. King James’ VI’s present remained onsite for 300 years, before being sold at an auction to the Earl of Roseberry.

Though some argue it came from the culinary genius of Duddingston folk who learnt how to make sheep heid into broth.

And now, in tandem with the full makeover, the pub’s culinary genius has been reignited with Head Chef Andrew Little at the helm, and the sheep’s heid hasn’t made the menu.

The Sheep Heid has been refurbished. Pic: Greg Macvean

The Sheep Heid has been refurbished. Pic: Greg Macvean

Steaks and burgers are on offer as well as pizzas, lobster and crab fishcakes, battered cod and salmon fillet launching alongside a new range of high protein, low calorie dishes.

This includes a wide selection of choices all under 750 calories, including a king prawn, crab and chorizo linguine and stir fried beef fillet salad.

A new improved, and bigger, vegan menu will also be available including a stacked burger with slow-roasted tomato sauce, a spiced coconut curry and desserts such as treacle & pecan tart with soy vanilla custard.

General manager, Chloe Herbert has been with the team for eight years. She said: “The Sheep Heid Inn is a hugely popular pub and provides a hub for the local community so we’re really excited to be part of the team as it begins its next chapter.

Skittle Alley. Pic: Greg Macvean

Skittle Alley. Pic: Greg Macvean

“We have made some stunning changes that have allowed us to create a modern, open and stylish look and feel to the pub – making it the ideal spot for friends and family to get together. We have loved unveiling the brand-new pub to guests!”

As part of the refurbishment, there is a new informal dining area close to the bar, as well as giving the current dining area and bar a new look.

True to its heritage, the much-loved skittle alley, built in approximately 1870 will be retained and Scotch whisky, Johnnie Walker has invested in its upgrade with improved lanes, skittles and the creation of an “urban cool” hang-out space.

Johnnie Walker account manager Nigel Robertson, said: “Partnering with The Sheep Heid Inn has been a great fit for Johnnie Walker as two brands steeped in Scottish heritage.

“It’s great to support such an institution in Edinburgh’s bar scene, and enhance the experience for visitors and locals in the community.”