Muirhouse is mentioned as far back as the early 14th century, and may have been a royal residence.
In 1316 or 1320 it was given by Robert the Bruce, along with Cramond Regis, to Sir William Oliphant of Aberdalgie, as compensation for lands in Kincardineshire taken by John Balliol. Oliphant was a loyal supporter of Bruce, and his son, Sir Walter Oliphant, would later marry Bruce’s daughter Elizabeth.
Muirhouse remained in the Oliphant family until 1631, when it was bought by John Hamilton, an apothecary from Edinburgh. His son, William Hamilton of Muirhouse, sold the estate around 1662 to a John Denholm, whose son, Robert Denholm of Muirhouse, subsequently sold it to a James Hunter around 1672.
It is said that a new house was built around 1670, probably on the site of the older castle, and possibly incorporating elements into it. It may be that it was built by Hunter, who died bankrupt in 1697. His creditors sold the barony of Muirhouse to a Robert Watson of Damhead.
Muirhouse remained in the Watson family until 1776, when debts forced the then owner, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Watson of the 25th Regiment of Foot, to sell it to William Davidson, who had made his fortune as a merchant in Rotterdam, Holland.
An engraving from 1794 shows what may be an L-plan tower house, extended to the north with a three storey wing flanked by narrow round towers.
It was approached by avenues from the west, north and east, each lined with old oaks, limes and other trees. The main approach was that from the east, where there were gateposts topped off with griffins.
Old Muirhouse, as it became known, was demolished around 1832 or 1833, following the building of a new Muirhouse nearby for Captain William Davidson. The two circular stair towers from the old house were still to be seen as ruins within the garden until they were demolished in 1950. The griffin gate pillars were demolished around 1960.
Nothing now remains, and the site of Muirhouse lies under Muirhouse Parkway, which was once the eastern driveway to the old house.
Alternative names for Muirhouse
Muirhouse Old Mansion; Murrais; Murrize; Old Muirhouse
Where is Muirhouse?
Muirhouse is in the parish of Edinburgh and the county of Midlothian.
Grid reference:NT 21314 76329
Lat / long:55.973534,-3.262345