Why is Edinburgh called Edinburgh: The story behind the name of the Scottish Capital

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Ever wonder why Edinburgh is called Edinburgh? We got you covered.

Edinburgh is a city of culture, beauty and history, with signposts to the past peeking out all over the city. People have been living on this area of land since 8500 BC, with the first signs of settlement on Castle Rock and Arthur’s Seat dating from roughly 900 BC.

There is some debate about where the name ‘Edinburgh’ came from, but it appears to be in use for the area when it was recaptured by the Scots from the Angles in 1018. It is thought that there was a fort already on Castle Rock, due to its natural defences, and therefore widely agreed that “burgh” comes from the old English word “Burh”, meaning fort. The Castle was built on the site around the twelfth century during the reign of David I, and the settlement grew down the area we now know as the Royal Mile.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Where the “Edin” in Edinburgh came from is not necessarily as clear. One thought is that it comes from the name of the 7th century King of Northumbria, King Edwin, so “Edwin – burh”. However, in The Place Names of Edinburgh by Stuart Harris, there is a claim that the name was thought of by the Votadini, a tribe which lived in the area which we now know as the Lothians. The tribe is thought to have called Edinburgh both “Eidyn” and “Din Eidyn.” In a poem dating from the 6th Century, they discuss the Gododdin people, and their capital, Eidyn, although it’s original meaning has been lost.

Why is Edinburgh called Edinburgh - here is story behind the name of the Scottish CapitalWhy is Edinburgh called Edinburgh - here is story behind the name of the Scottish Capital
Why is Edinburgh called Edinburgh - here is story behind the name of the Scottish Capital

Due to its location on the coast, and with the strong defences of Castle Rock, Edinburgh prospered, and was named the Royal Capital of Scotland in the 15th Century.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.