Lothians: About 1.0 mile south-east of Edinburgh Castle, on minor roads probably west of A700, at or near Sciennes.
Site of tower or old house. ‘Scheen’ is marked on Blaeu’s map of The Lothians, then ‘Shyns’ on Adair’s map of Midlothian. The name is pronounced ‘Sheenz’.
There was a chapel and a Dominican friary at Sciennes, established after the Battle of Flodden by widows or the kinswomen of those slain at the battle. It was taken over by the nunnery of St Catherine, the buildings were damaged during the Reformation, but were then used as a plague hospital until 1645 when mostly demolished. A plaque marked the place.
The property was held by the Johnstones, and Mr Samuel Johnstone is on record in 1643 and later, then William Johnstone of Sciennes (and later Westerhall or Westraw) in the 1690s and 1700s. William was an MP for Annan in the Scottish parliament, became a baronet in 1711, and supported the government in the Jacobite Rising of 1715.
Sciennes Hill House, which dates from the 18th century, but has been much altered and divided, was the house of Professor Adam Ferguson. It was here that the young Walter Scott met the famous poet Robert Burns in the 1780s.
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