A welcome sight for those who have just come down from Arthur’s Seat, The Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston is the oldest running pub not only in Edinburgh, but Scotland as a whole. With a charming exterior and a lovely warm pub inside, it’s a great way to reward yourself after a long day rambling around Holyrood Park.
History of the Sheep Heid Inn
It is thought that the Sheep Heid Inn has been around since the late fourteenth century, with the date above the door claiming it was established in 1360. With the Duddingston Kirk nearby, it was in the perfect location to provide sustenance and refreshments to the members of the congregation who were so inclined!
Its location was also handy for Mary Queen of Scots, who often used it as a stop on her regular trips between Holyrood and Craigmillar. It was also enjoyed by her son, James IV, who spent many a happy evening playing skittles in the courtyard (something which you can still do today!).
The name ‘Sheep Heid’ (pronounced ‘Heed’) could be a nod to the slaughtering of sheep that used to take place here in Duddingston. The butchers would take their wares to the Fleshmarket, but leave the ‘heids’ of the sheep behind, which became a bit of a delicacy with the locals. No sheep heids on the menu today though.
In the upstairs dining room you’ll find a replica of “The Skating Minister” – one of Scotland’s most famous paintings by Sir Henry Raeburn. I had known of the picture before, but seeing it there piqued my interest and I discovered that the painting is actually of Rev Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch, a mere two minute walk from this very pub.
To find out more about the Sheep Heid Inn’s fascinating history, be sure to check out their website.
Sheep Heid Inn today
Walking in the door, you definitely get that olde-worlde cosy feel. Even though the street appeared fairly quiet outside, the place was really busy with punters squeezed into every nook and crannie of the place. We were lucky enough to get a table for two fairly quickly, however if you are thinking of popping in on a weekend it might be wise to book.
Being the festive season, I made a beeline for the bar and ordered some of their tasty mulled cider to enjoy when we were waiting for our food to arrive.
I went for the beef and ale pie with carrots and cabbage mash – it was an absolute monster! At least, it looked quite big when it came to our table, but I still finished every mouthful. It was delicious, I make no apologies.
The carrots were cooked to perfection with what I think was honey and pepper, while the buttery mash and cabbage combo worked really well.
The pie was served in a large dish, covered with a sheet of pastry. Inside was a slow roasted beef and carrot filling, where you could really taste the Black Sheep ale. There seemed to be a fair bit of space between the pastry and the beef, which made it look bigger than what it was and made it relatively easy to polish off… that’s my story and I’m sticking to it, anyway. 😉
Mr Bug had the ham, egg and chips. Not a fancy dish by any stretch of the imagination, but they certainly managed to put some flourish into the presentation. He loved the chunky chips and the ham, although wished that he’d had a little more of the tasty egg.
If you’ve just come from a walk around Holyrood Park, the historic Sheep Heid Inn is a perfect place to spend an intimate evening recovering with a great atmosphere, good food and refreshing drink.
You can find The Sheep Heid Inn at 43 The Causeway, EH15 3QA. Get there on the 42 bus, get off beside the Bizzie Lizzie and walk down Old Church Lane. You’ll see the sign for it off one of the streets to the right.