The name Linton is said to have derived from the Saxon ‘Lin’, meaning pools or water, in this case a river running through an undrained, marshy area, and ‘ton’ meaning a settlement or town, thus Linton, settlement by the water. In the 12th century the village was known as Linton Roderyck, thought to be named after the principal overlord of the area, Roderyck the Liberal, King of Strathclyde.
No great Scottish events took place in Linton, however traces of human activity through many eras of history are evident in the area. Remains of Iron Age forts can be traced in the surrounding hills. Bronze Age cists were excavated at West Water Reservoir in 1991 during a drought; these were resited at the side of the Golf Course to preserve the cists. An information board gives details of the excavation to visitors. The grave contents can be seen in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, they consist of well-preserved pots, a cannel coal necklace and the remains of a very unusual lead necklace. A Roman Road running from Clydesdale to Cramond and Inveresk, was constructed in 140AD, with intermittent marching forts. This can be traced between Lynedale and Nine Mile Burn. The old Edinburgh to Lanark Road follows the line of the Pentland Hills and is a right of way between Carlops and Dolphinton.
Edward I of England was said to have ridden through Linton in 1298 on his way to Ayr. Sir John Comyn and Sir Simon Fraser of Neidpath passed through Linton on their way to the Battle of Roslin in 1302. In 1320 at the Abbey of Arbroath The Declaration of Arbroath was signed. This internationally famous document was written by the Abbot Bernard of Linton! He of course was a Lintonian as well as Abbot of Arbroath. James IV visited the area in 1490 probably for the hunting. Charles X of France, while exiled and living at Holyrood, came to lodge at the Brig House Inn (now Medwyn House), when hunting on Slipperfield Moors. Brig House was at one time owned by James Wedderspuine, one of the Peeblesshire gentlemen charged with complicity in the murder of David Rizzio, secretary to Mary Queen of Scots. Robert Burns also visited the proprietor of the Brig House Inn. Finding him away from home on two occasions, he inscribed on a window ‘Honest Graeme, aye the same, never to be found at hame!’
Industries related to lead and silver extraction were carried out at the Siller Holes on the north west side of Leadlaw, above the village. Mary of Guise was reputed to have paid her army with the silver extracted at Siller Holes. Quarrying, lime extraction and coal mining were all carried out in close proximity to the village. In the eigtheenth century, with the introduction of land drainage and liming, agriculture became increasingly important.
Linton stands at the crossing of the drove roads. The north/south route passes through the Pentland Hills at the Cauldstane Slap and on to the south through the village. The east/west route, Edinburgh to Ayrshire and the south west, passes just north of the village.
Linton was raised to a Burgh of Regality in 1631, empowering it to hold markets and fairs. Large markets were held initially on the site of the Lower Green and later, as they increased in size, in the area of the Brig House Inn. Linton sheep, which were black faced and legged, horned, with short bodies and coarse wool, were very popular for their hardiness and sweet meat. Upwards of thirty thousand sheep and many thousand cattle were sold annually at the Linton market to be driven north to the Highlands or south to England.
Weaving was very important in the nineteenth century with upawards of fifty weavers working in their cottages in Linton. There was a tannery and a brewery on the Upper Green, the good strong Linton Brew being in much demand in the area. Linton boots and shoes were also well thought of, with several boot makers in the village. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century many changes took place.
With the introduction of postal services, the prefix West was used to differentiate the village from the Linton in East Lothian, now East Linton. The turnpike roads were built, a piped water supply, drainage and sanitation were introduced. A small Gas Works was erected at the head of the Lower Green providing street lighting, and lighting for some buildings, prior to the introduction of electricity.
Gradually we see emerging the village as it stands today. The coming of the railway introduced an early form of tourism to the village. Many of the large houses on the main road were built at this time to accommodate the summer visitors as paying guests. Some houses, both large and small, were let for the season with or without attendance.
In the second half of the twentieth century changes continued apace, with new housing having doubled the population of the village.
Chris Atkinson (e: [email protected])