Origin of Name: Probably named after a farmer called Sveinn who had a farm here sometime before 1214. It is of Norse/Anglican origin.
Position: Colinton to the west, Fairmilehead to the east, Pentland Hills to the south and Oxgangs to the north. See map above.
Historical notes: The area includes the village of Swanston which nestles, almost hidden, at the foot of the Pentland Hills. The estate of Swanston stretches back possibly to the 9th century but is first mentioned in 1214 when it was part of the barony of Redhall. It was mentioned again in the 14th century and Swanston farm was once a monk's grange. By the15th century the area was divided into Easter and Wester Swanston with Swanston Road being the dividing line. The Wester part was owned by the Foulis family from 1538 until Henry Trotter of Mortonhall acquired it in 1670. The Ross family held the Easter part from 15th century until Henry Trotter of Mortonhall acquired that too in 1749. The Trotters merged Swanston with Mortonhall.
There are no records to indicate when the village appeared but it seems likely that it grew up around the farm, and was in existence in the early 1700s. The white thatched cottages on either side of the Swanston Burn are the oldest buildings and the only thatched houses left in Edinburgh. The town council built Swanston Cottage in 1761 when it used Swanston's springs and burns to connect to the city's water supply. In 1820 the cottage had a second storey added and the thatch replaced by slates. It is best known as writer Robert Louis Stevenson's family summer home from 1867 to 1880 and is sited to the west of the village.
There is a group of stone cottages, south of the thatched ones, which were built in the 1850s to house farm workers. The original farmhouse can be seen south of the car park and is now divided into holiday flats. The old school closed in 1931 due to falling numbers of pupils and is now a private house called The Whitehouse.
After WWII many villagers left and the cottages fell into disrepair but in the early 1960s the council renovated them and selected tenants by interview.
Outwith the village, housing began in the 1930s with Swanston Avenue, Drive and Terrace. Gardens, Grove, View and Place were built in 1956 and Crescent, Green, Loan, Park and Way in 1971. On the west side of Swanston Road housing was built in the 1980s and also at Caiyside and Trench Knowe.
Today: Today the area (and village) are very desirable and the modern part is made up of detached and semi detached houses. There are 2 golf clubs Swanston and Lothianburn next to each other just south of the village as well as Swanston farm which keeps Highland cattle amongst its livestock and has a restaurant and bar. There are few other businesses or shops in the area but there is one large supermarket.
Did You Know: Water wasn't installed to the village until 1934 and electricity until 1949. During the bad winter of 1947 the village was cut off by snow and provisions had to be brought in by horse drawn snow plough
Robert Louis Stevenson author of Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde among others used inspiration from his time at Swanston in his last novel St Ives
There were never any facilities in the village such as a shop or pub, church or post office and the same applies today.
http://www.fairmileheadcc.org.uk/- Community Council shared with Fairmilehead