The picture perfect conservation village of Gifford is located at the foot of the Lammermuir Hills 5miles (8km) south of Haddington. With picturesque houses, church, town square, village green and 18th century Mercat (market) Cross, the village is a great place to spend a relaxing afternoon just enjoying the tranquil surroundings.
It is also the ideal stopping off point to stock up before or refuel after heading into the Lammermuir Hills for an invigorating walk or cycle ride. There is a fine selection of places to eat including hotels and a coffee shop selling delicious homemade cakes.
But there is another side to this quaint village. Gifford’s history begins at Yester Castle which was built in 1267 for Sir Hugo de Gifard. Known as the ‘Wizard of Yester’ he has quite a reputation as a necromancer! The castle had an underground grand hall, known as the Goblin Ha' (Hobgoblin Hall). It was believed that Sir Hugo entered into a pact with the Devil which allowed him to summon goblins who built the hall as a place where dark magic and sorcery were practiced. Very little remains the Castle today.
Yester village grew and in the 1700s was moved closer to Gifford’s current location when the Castle was abandoned for Yester House in c1750. The house was designed by William and Robert Adam.
One of Gifford’s most famous sons is commemorated by a plaque on a wall near the church. John Witherspoon was one of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence and became the first President of Princeton University.