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The Lothians or Lothian are a region of the Scottish Lowlands lying along the south shore of the Firth of Forth and north of the Lammermuir Hills. This is one of the most populous parts of Scotland and contains the capital city, Edinburgh. It consists of three shires:

The name "Lothian" is ancient and gives its name to that of the three counties, and the three counties taken collectively give the name "the Lothians".

In former times, the name 'Lothian' encompassed all the land from the Firth of Forth to the Tweed, as recorded by Henry of Huntingdon. Today though Lammermuir, with the shires of Berwick, Peebles, Roxburgh and Selkirk, is not included under the name.


The origin of the name 'Lothian' is unknown. Although throughout most of the Anglo-Saxon period the region was an English territory belonging to the Northumbrians, the name appears to be older.

Mediæval legend ascribes the name to one King Lot, who supposedly ruled Lothian before it was settled by the English. Lot features in the Arthurian legends. The Welsh name for Lothian is Lleuddiniawn, and the ancient Welsh recognised it as part of Hen Ogledd, the Old North.

By the sixth or seventh century, all the lands south of the Forth were in the hands of the Kingdom of Bernicia and its successor, Northumbria. In this age the English language became the prevalent tongue, which is reflected in the overwhelming dominance of that language in place-names, although a number of Old Welsh place-names remain in the landscape; not least that of Edinburgh itself.

The Viking invasions and the settlement of Northumbria by the Norwegians sundered Northumbria though a remnant kingdom survived in the north and in the later Viking period the Chronicle refers to an English 'High Reeve of Bamburgh' ruling the north.

The Lothians were ceded to the King of Scots at some point in the eighth or ninth centuries; Roger of Wendover states that in 973 King Edgar I ceded Laudian to King Kenneth on condition that Kenneth join his court on festival occasions.[1] Simeon of Durham suggests that Lothian (terris in Lodoneio) was ceded by Eadwulf of Bamburgh or Uhtred of Northumbria after the battle of Carham in 1018. This cession, whenever made, marked a very significant change in the Kingdom of Scotland, for from this time it had a significant population of English language and culture; though whether a majority history cannot tell us.

In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Lothian is recorded as Loþen (or Loðen). Henry of Huntingdon states that the border between Lothian and England was the River Tweed, and that Roxburgh was a border town.

Although Loðen was ceded to Scotland in the tenth century, as late as the eleventh century the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle could refer to King Malcolm III as leaving Scotland to enter "Lothian in England".[2]

Major towns

The Lothians contain the Scottish capital Edinburgh, which is also the county town of Midlothian. The major towns include:

West Lothian Midlothian East Lothian


  1. Roger of Wendover
  2. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle  Laud Chronicle (1091)þa ða se cyng Melcolm gehyrde þæt hine man mid fyrde secean wolde. he for mid his fyrde ut of Scotlande into Loðene on Englaland 7 þær abad. -
    'When the king, Malcolm, heard that he would he sought out with an army, he went with his army out of Scotland into Lothian in England and bided there.'