Merrylees Cottages


This row of stone cottages is all that remains of the 12th century West Lothian estate of Henri de Merleis, as recorded in the Staffordshire Pipe Scrolls in 1170. They are situated between Linlithgow and Edinburgh on the corner of the A904 Bo'ness - Queensferry Road and the B9109 leading to Blackness and overlook rolling green fields stretching down to the Firth of Forth. The original name of the estate Myrge Laese - meaning 'pleasant pasture' in the Old English of the day - was a very apt description.

In 1599 'the lands of Mirrieleis' were sold and incorporated into the neighbouring estate of Binns, owned by Sir William Livingstone of Kilsyth. They retained their own identity however as the place name 'Myrey Lees' or 'Merrylees' was included on maps of the area up until 1830.

In 1612 the entire estate - including 'Mureleis' as noted in the Binns' papers - was sold to the Dalyell family, who over many years made extensive renovations to the original Binns mansion and presented the property (pictured top right) to the people of Scotland in 1950 to be held as a National Trust.

The Merrylees Cottages were not included however for, according to the official version, they where sold by Mrs Eleanor Dalyell to a local farmer, Mr Lamont of Paddockhall, on the death of her husband Thomas in 1935. Another story, related by one of the present owners, is that the cottages were lost in a card game by the Dalyell's, who were well known in the district for their 'gaming' evenings, and then sold to a neighbouring farmer who used them as shearers quarters.

At one time the largest of the cottages was an Inn where drovers would stop overnight, pasturing their stock in the adjacent fields, on their way from the Falkirk Tryst (market) along the Old Drove Road through the Cauldstane Slap (pass) in the Pentland Hills to the markets in the south.

In 1993 two of the cottages were purchased by the present owners in very delapidated conditions. They have since renovated and extended them and attached the sign 'Merrylees Cottages' which is also the official postal address. The family welcomes Merrilees' visitors and has postcards of the cottages available.

At the time of the first Merrilees Family Association (MFA) Gathering in Edinburgh in 1998 the other two cottages were available for sale at offers over 40,000 English pounds for the pair. The Linlithgow estate agents described their location as 'a pleasant rural setting' and noted that they required modernisation and upgrading. Each cottage has one bedroom and a tiled open fireplace in their respective livingrooms. They have garden ground to the rear laid out in lawns with flower borders. The MFA has considered buying one of the cottages to return a part of our heritage to the family's care.

The Binns

September 2013 - The latest update om the 'Merrylees Cottages' from Bruce & Kris Mirrilees

The woman who has been referred to by Clan members who was living in one of the units has moved to a new house they have built behind the cottages. There is a sign posted there "New Merrylees".

She tried to contact Clan members when she sold her place, but she couldn't get response or interest. It has since sold. She also said she has run out of the water color post cards that she would give out when folks stopped by.