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A Brief History of Haddington

The origin of the Town's name, most likley comes from "Hadda's Tun" or Hadda's Village and in the early 15th Century was the 4th largest town in Scotland with only Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh boasting a larger population! It is twinned with the French town of Aubigny-sur-Nere, which has Scottish connections going back to the 15th Century.

The Town is important in it's history which often formed the "front line" to English attack.

Created a Royal Burgh sometime after the accession of David I in 1124, and was also the birthplace of Alexander II (1198-1249), and hosted a Royal Palace - that building now occuied by Council Offices.

The ruin of St Martins, on the edge of the Nungate, (a former Barony) represents the only visible remnant of a great Cisterian Nunnery founded in 1178 by Ada de Warenne, who had been given the Town as a Wedding Present by her Father-in-Law, David I. Edwards III of England destroyed the Nunnery, Church and St Mary's, along with the rest of the Scottish Borders in 1356. St Mary's was rebuilt in the late 14thC. The Treaty of Haddington was signed in 1548, to ensure Mary, Queen of Scots marry Henry VIIII of England's son...

It was signed within earshot of Henry's army which was beseiging the Town. The Treaty brought French assistance in return for Mary's betrothal to the Dauphin of France.

At one point in time, Haddington could lay claim to being the "Gretna Green" of the east coast. The Episcopalian Chruch, then situated in Poldrate, was first on the road out of England and runaways frequently chose to marry there being safe from English Law and potential parental disapproval!

The renowned Reformer, John Knox, was born in Haddington (Giffordgate) not far from the "old bridge". The "old bridge" as was always known, being a bridge site dating back to 1282 and was in fact the route of the "Great North Road" in times gone by. At the other end of the "old bridge" is the Bowling Green at the Sands, opposite Lady Kitty's Garden, is said to be the oldest in Scotland. Nearby, the Village of Athelstaneford, which was traditionally known as "Elshinford", is seen as the birthplace of the Saltire Flag.

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