Origin of Name: There is an old theory that the name is derived from a leper hospital in the area (Leper Town) but no record of such a place exists. The most likely explanation is that the name comes from the old English (Anglian) “corn farm on a hill slope”
Position: Fairmilehead to the west, Gilmerton to the east,Southhouse to the south and The Grange and Newington to the north. See map above.
Historical Notes: The Liberton of today is actually a collection of four hamlets with the name Liberton. The largest being Kirk Liberton which is the area at the top of Kirk Brae. Over Liberton is to the west around the old tower, Liberton Dams is at the bottom of Liberton Brae at Mayfield Road and Nether Liberton is between Gilmerton Road and Cameron Toll shopping centre.
In 1143 King David I granted a charter to build a chapel in Kirk Liberton. There is evidence that there was a previous Celtic chapel on the site dating to the 9th century. This is now the site of Liberton kirk and it was here that the old Kirk Liberton village grew up around. Farming was the main occupation in the area and by 1839 there were 34 farms growing potatoes, wheat, barley and oats.
The hamlet of Over Liberton was just a few houses and farms centred around Liberton Tower which was built by the Dalmahoy family in the 15th century and Liberton House built around the end of the 16th century. There is a reservoir and treatment works which were completed in 1885 to supply the east side of Edinburgh.
Nether Liberton is the hamlet out of the four which can be seen the easiest. It can also be traced back to 1143. Milling was one of the two main industries in the hamlet, the other being brewing, and an old mill complete with mill wheel can still be seen today from the main road over the Braid burn although it is now a private house.
Liberton Dams was the smallest of the Libertons and nowadays there is little trace left of it. In Victorian times it had its own school and there was also a dairy.
During the early 20th century the Libertons were merged together with the expansion of the city and the building of new housing and estates. This mainly took place up until WWII but there has been a large amount of housing built in recent decades.
Today: A very large mixture of housing from detached villas to council housing and flats. The high rise flats at Gracemount were demolished in 2009. Liberton is quite a large suburb and mostly residential. There are schools in the Gracemount area and off Gilmerton Road. Liberton hospital is on Lasswade Road and there are also many homes for the elderly including Ellen's Glen House. There is a leisure centre at Gracemount, a riding school near the Tower, Cameron Toll shopping centre and several areas of local shops and local amenities.
Did You Know: Probably the best known part of Nether Liberton is Good's Corner where Liberton Road joins Gilmerton Road. Today it is a piece of wasteland with a ruined cottage but this area was a sawmill and joiner's shop owned by the Good family from about 1840. There were also some cottages behind. It is currently advertised for development.
In the grounds of the Balmwell restaurant on Howdenhall Road lies the Balm Well of St Katherine. Its age is unknown but it has existed for centuries - it was mentioned by King James IV in 1504. The black tarry water that came out the well was supposed to have therapeutic qualities and the tradition is that it was brought by St Katherine from Mount Sinai but it's most likely that the nearby shale works in Burdiehouse affected the water.
The area of Ellen's Glen was once a hamlet called Stenhouse but it's name was changed in the 1960s to avoid confusion with the Stenhouse area in the west of the city. The hamlet had a population of 175 in the late 1700s and there are small traces left of it today. The hamlet of Greenend was nearby but is now modern housing.
http://libertondcc.wordpress.com/ Liberton Community Council