Bordered by the Meadows to the North, Marchmont to the East and Greenhill to the south Bruntsfield links remains the local treasure it has been for hundreds of years. The land took its name from an early landowner – Brown’s fi elds or ‘Brounysfelde’ in Old Scots. The Links area as we know it now is the last of what was the Burgh Muir – an area of rough grazing land and woodland which stretched from the ancient city walls south to Blackford Hill.
In times gone by it was a place for drovers to graze their cattle and sheep before they went off to market – the nearby Warrender estates being an early home for the Highland Show. It was also the site of several quarry pits meeting the demand for building material as the city began its sprawl southward – a pit called Hunter’s Hollow can still clearly be seen near the Bicycle Co-operative shop.
As its name suggests the area became and remains associated with the game of golf with the golfers gaining rights over other who wanted to graze or quarry – even horses were banned in case they ruined the turf! There are even claims (disputed by other parts of the city but supported by a sign erected by the Council) that the game was first played here. One claim that does appear to hold sway is that it sites the oldest golf clubhouse in the world at the Golf Tavern which since the 1700s has been a place where the members of golfing societies met to quench their thirst.
Golf is, of course, still enjoyed here on the 36 holes of the Bruntsfield Short Hole Golf Club that run around the hollows of the north west part of the links. But what created these hollows? Were they sunk by the quarrymen or were they, as it has been suggested, dug to receive the victims of a great plague? The Burgh Muir is known to have been used as an early example of a quarantine area in attempts to protect the city.
Whatever lies beneath our feet today, the Links remains a much valued place to meet, to stroll, to exercise and to enjoy the green space around us.