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Direct Doors Blog

Old Doors - Old Pubs - Sheep Heid Duddingston Edinburgh


The exterior door and inner door to this pub is probably at least 150 years old, that's as much door info as this blog contains but please read on. Isn't it strange why things that aren't broke have to be fixed?????




The Sheep Heid Inn (Sheep Head for the non scots) and "The Sheepy" to the regulars has been in Duddingston Village in Edinburgh for some 650 years, that isn't a misprint, 650 years providing drinks, food and chat for all comers.

Local historians claim that there was an inn licensed on this spot as early as 1360.

What we do know for certain is that not a stone throw away sits the picturesque twelfth century church of Duddingston, and one thing we can be sure of in Scotland is where there were places of worship there was always an enterprising innkeeper offering the faithful nourishment for the soul of a slightly less ecclesiastical nature! 

The Sheep Heid doesn’t feature too heavily in the history books again until the time of Mary Queen of Scots when it became a stop off point on her regular jaunts between the royal palaces of Craigmillar and Holyrood.

This royal patronage was continued by her son James VI whom tradition records presented the innkeeper with a richly embellished ram’s head snuff-box in thanks for the good times had playing skittles in the yard at Duddingston.

I took the trouble to walk a mile and half through the snow for a pint (or two) from my own home on Friday 10th December, to be honest it's never really that much of a chore going for a pint, I was just trying to build the mental picture of man against the elements, as usual there was an eclectic mix of customers in the pub which allowed a lonley soul to join in the conversation which as usual was varied.




I joined a conversation with people I didn't know, just the usual thing that happens in the Sheepy, the conversation was about gritter lorries, student protests, pensions and retirement for the lucky ones, I then heard the rumour that the owners (Mitchells & Butlers) intend to force a massive change on this 650 year old pub to "brighten it up",  "change the look", "make it more middle market" all the usual rubbish that some accountant or designer in an office hundreds of miles away with a salary that far outweighs their intelligence or their common sense deserves but please read on.

I began to wonder which customers had been asked if this is what they wanted, I couldn't find any, why is it that a pub needs to be changed for change sake, it serves people from all walks of life, many of whom are tourists from all over the world that have made a deliberate journey to see the pub, it is both annoying, worrying and very unfair on both the regulars and the tourists, it is more than a pub, it is part museum, part library, part living room, it is a living history of life in Edinburgh.

I can only assume that the directors of Mitchells & Butlers are probably experienced in and drawn from a list of high street shops, their experience is probably based on strict formats which have been "rolled out" nationally, you can't do that same sort of roll out with quality local pubs, one size does not fit all, we all know how good the "Beefeater" style is if you like that kind of pub, but not for me thanks!

This pub doesn't have a Tv, I like to watch live football but can go to any number of pubs to do so, this pub has games, books, bric a brac, conversation aplenty and as mentioned above a traditional skittle alley which is reputed to have been built around 1880, what do the current owners think they can improve on........ be honest it's now 2013 and I am sitting updating the blog, the pub has had it's refit and by way of eating some humble pie, I think the owners have managed to retain the character and add some welcome improvements.




Lastly, I was fairly recently lucky enough to be invited to the pubs dinner to celebrate 650 years of the sheepy and its history, I am just one of the "punters" I am not some do gooder who doesn't like change, I sat opposite the Lord and Lady Provost of Edinburgh and had church ministers on one side, councillors to the other side, and an MP behind me, also present and sitting diagonally opposite was Edinburgh's first lady bus driver and some neighbours of the Sheepie, a real eclectic mix, a real local pub, just what we all want as regulars.

Maybe I'm just a grumpy old man, no matter, blogs are definitely a great way to get rid of anger and frustration as well as allowing us all to learn a little bit about a lot.


Some info and history supplied by  and Wikipedia.

Any questions, email