Edinburgh is 900 years old

Celebrating our heritage

In 1124 King David I introduced a new system of local government into Scotland by creating royal burghs as part of his efforts to reform the nation’s economic and political structures.Views over the roof tops in the Old Town towards the Firth of Forth

Edinburgh was one of his first royal burghs, along with 

  • Berwick
  • Dunfermline
  • Roxburgh
  • Stirling.

While there is no surviving founding Edinburgh charter, an 1127 Dunfermline Abbey royal charter refers to ‘my burgh of Edinburgh’. In 1128, Canongate Burgh was created for Holyrood Abbey. 

After the Reformation, Edinburgh spent considerable effort acquiring the former abbey’s lands over the following 200 years. It acquired Canongate then created a new burgh for South Leith in 1636. The burghs of Broughton, Calton and Portsburgh were also acquired and run by Edinburgh. This complex system of governance was abolished in 1856 when all burghs under the management of Edinburgh were merged into a single burgh.

In 1833, Portobello and Leith were made independent parliamentary burghs under the Burgh Reform Act. They ran their own affairs until amalgamated into an expanded Edinburgh in 1896 and 1920, respectively. 1975 saw the last expansion of the city’s boundaries, including Queensferry, which had been made a royal burgh in 1636.Edinburgh 900 celebration logo

Edinburgh has selected 2024 to mark the start of the 900th anniversary of our city, and to tell the story of Edinburgh’s journey through the centuries from the 12th century City of David right up to the 21st century, the City of Diversity.

A memorable and fitting celebration

Working with partners and community groups across the city, we are curating a rich programme of

  • events
  • talks
  • tours
  • tales.

Partner, civic groups and community organisations 

We are working with different groups and organisations in Edinburgh to deliver a varied programme of events and activities such as:

  • Historic Environment Scotland 
  • Incorporations of Trade of Edinburgh
  • Museum on the Mound
  • Royal Company of Merchants of the City of Edinburgh
  • St Giles Cathedral
  • Edinburgh Local Heritage Network.

We are still developing the programme and will launch it in July 2024. We are working with our in-house destination marketing team to present what will be an intriguing event programme which you will find on our Forever Edinburgh website. Sign up for our Forever Edinburgh email newsletter to get regular updates. We will continue to develop the programme until August 2025 so you can still get involved.

Some activities already lined up are:

  • Edinburgh 900 projections about the city’s history and the programme
  • Edinburgh 900 schools programme
  • Edinburgh 900 talks and lecture programme at the City Art Centre
  • Exhibition on David I’s transformation of 12th Century Scotland at the Central Library
  • St Giles Cathedral: 900 voices: an ever-evolving experimental sound installation created from the diverse voices of Edinburgh’s communities.
  • walking tours of the city’s financial history.

We would also love you if you would share your history of Edinburgh on Our Town Stories website where we curate Edinburgh's heritage through photos, maps and items from our unique Central Library collection.