Dean Village

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The Dean Village
The Dean Cemetery

Dean Village (from dene, meaning 'deep valley') is a former village immediately northwest of Edinburgh, Scotland city centre. It was known as the "Water of Leith Village" and was a successful grain milling hamlet for more than 800 years. At one time there were no fewer than eleven working mills there, driven by the strong currents of the Water of Leith. The mylnes of Dene were listed in the King David I Charters.

In 1833, the four-arched Dean Bridge, designed by Thomas Telford and 106 feet above the water level, was opened to carry the Queensferry Road over the Dean Gorge, almost at the sole expense of Mr John Learmonth Lord Provost of Edinburgh. The contractors were John Gibb & Son, from Aberdeen. Another intention of the new bridge was to open up the Dean estate to feuing.[1] The side parapet of the bridge was raised in height at the beginning of the 20th century as a deterrent to suicides, which were very common here in the 19th century, being more or less guaranteed success. The change in stonework is still visible. Dean Bridge was featured in Ian Rankin's fictional book Strip Jack, in which a woman is found dead in the river underneath the bridge.

However, mainly due to the development of much larger and more modern flour mills at Leith, Dean Village's trade diminished. For many years, the village became associated with decay and poverty, and it reached a low-point by around 1960. From the mid 1970s onwards it became recognised as a tranquil oasis close to the city centre, and redevelopment and restoration began, converting workers' cottages, warehouses and mill buildings. The area has now become a desirable residential area.

The Water of Leith has become a local amenity, with a waymarked trail, the Water of Leith Walkway, running from Balerno via Dean Village to Leith.

The Dean Cemetery stands on the site of Dean House, a mansion house which was part of Dean Estate which had been bought by Sir William Nisbet in 1609 and demolished in 1845. The cemetery which is one of the few in Scotland run as a non-profit making charity trust (to avoid being asset-stripped), is the resting place of many well-known people, including the railway engineer Sir Thomas Bouch and David Octavius Hill. Sculptured stones from the house are incorporated into the terrace wall on the edge of the cemetery. A painted ceiling from Dean House is now in the National Museum of Scotland.


  1. ^ Gilbert, W.M., editor, Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century, Edinburgh, 1901: 97

Coordinates: 55°57′7.22″N 3°13′2.27″W / 55.9520056°N 3.2172972°W / 55.9520056; -3.2172972

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