In 1761 Swanston Cottage was built by was the Town Council of the time, who had augmented Edinburgh’s first water supply from Comiston, drawing from the springs at Swanston. Swanston Cottage was leased by Robert Louis Stevenson’s parents, Thomas and Margaret (née Balfour) during the summer months, for the period of their only son’s late teens to twenties (1867 until 1880). An 18th Century former schoolhouse also sits tucked away in the trees adjacent to Swanston Village and schooled children from as far as Bowbridge, Fordel, Comiston House, Lothianburn and Dreghorn.
The name Swanston is mentioned in the 14th Century in the charters granted during the reign of David II. It formed part of the Temple lands of the Knights of St. John and Swanston Farm was once a monk’s grange. In a Charter by James VI, in which all the Templar’s possessions in Scotland were listed, a reference to ‘terras templaris de Swaistoun possess’ is included.
Swanston was first designated a conservation area on 20th February 1975 and remains to this day a safeguarded environment, a conservation area and an area of special historic and architectural character.