Dean Village

Guided Architecture Walking Tour

Architectural tour off the beaten track

Edinburgh Dean village is a picturesque settlement secluded in the river valley. In the past the village was the centre of the milling of water mills for flour production. The character of the village is formed by purposeful siting and details down to iron railings. On the architectural tour, we will take you through the most scenic locations and provide plenty of context to allow you to experience the area in a meaningful way.




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Start from Stockbridge Market

Finish near Belford Mews


 Find signs of a millennium old grain milling industry, which used to provide food for Edinburgh since 12th century.


Visit one of the best hidden Victorian mews housing street in Edinburgh


Wonder into the courtyard of an Arts and Crafts Victorian Social Housing


Stroll through the designed landscape of the most fashionable 19th Century Edinburgh Cemetery


See Grand Georgian orphanages turned Modern Art Galleries


Discover the Georgian mineral water temple and marvel at majestic bridges


Relax on a stroll in a wooded river valley


Full Description of Dean Village Architecture Tour

The walk will start in Stockbridge market, with an introduction of the history of villages around medieval Edinburgh. The party will then stroll along the Water of Leith towards St Bernard’s Well while trying to spot abundant local wildlife. Here your guide will analyse the origins of Alexander Nasmith’s ideas and the embodiment of a Claudian landscape that is the site of St Bernard’s Well. Having acquainted ourselves with the influences of 1750s grand tours, we will approach the overpowering Dean bridge, Thomas Telford’s structure to connect Dean Estate to the New Town.
The group will then find themselves right in the heart of Dean Village, the Baxter’s guild’s settlement that still contains the old bridge, tolbooth, a mill, and a weir. Here, the role of flour milling, its heyday and eventual demise will be discussed. Using existing buildings as an example, your guide will introduce you to the wider subject of Scottish Baronial architecture. 
As we navigate the lanes of Dean Village, the group will come upon the red sandstone courtyard of Well Court, previously Victorian Social housing funded by a local philanthropist and the proprietor of the Scotsman Newspaper. 
On the way to the galleries, your guide will take you through a fashionable 19th century cemetery and familiarise you with a few influential figures buried here. Discovering fragments of Dean House, encased into retaining walls of the cemetery will be a special treat to any curious mind. 
Thomas Hamilton’s orphanage turned gallery will present a great opportunity to discuss Edinburgh philanthropy traditions as well as discover various stone finishes of Georgian Edinburgh. 
The tour will end with a beautiful example of stark Greek Revival orphanage (now Modern Gallery 1) facing a landform sculpture by Charles Jencks.

Things you can do before and after the Dean Village Architectural Tour

Market Pavilions in the trees near Dean Village guided tour starting point

Stockbridge Market

The walking tour starts in a small square that holds a weekly Sunday Market. If it is the right day, enjoy breakfast from local stalls before the tour.

Neoclassical architecture of Dean Gallery on a beautiful summer day

Modern Art Galleries

The walking tour ends close to the galleries, so why not refuel in their cafes and appreciate some art? Free entry to permanent exibitions.

People al fresco eating in a cafe near Dean Village

Café Braw

After the tour, closest place to refuel and have a warm beverage in the small cosy Braw. Great food, indoor and outdoor seating available.