Kelso is situated at the point where the rivers Teviot and Tweed merge. It is a beautiful setting which has allowed for the creation of a truly picturesque town. It is a town with a long history, partly religious and partly bloody with the scars of war. It was in 1128 that Kind David granted permission to the monks that lived here to build themselves an abbey, an abbey which would be located across the water from his castle. Roxburgh was one a great and mighty castle, though all that remain today are the remnants of the strong castle walls. It was here at the castle in 1460 that King James II met his death when a cannon exploded during a siege.

Photo by Son of Groucho
Photo by Son of Groucho

Places to Visit

The Scottish Borders have a rich if somewhat bloody heritage and there are plenty of castles and ruins to explore. Take Floors Castle for example; still inhabited, it holds a wonderful position surrounded by beautiful parkland, overlooking the River Tweed. Within its walls you will find a fabulous collection of artworks and tapestries.

The town of Kelso is regularly host to country shows and festivals which highlight the wealth of bounty to be found in the region. Kelso Square is reputedly the largest town square in the whole of Scotland. At the heart of the square you will find the bull ring, a reminder of the old livestock market that used to take place here. These days, the square is lined with unique and specialist shops and stores as well as the usual High Street names you would expect to find in any shopping centre.

Kelso Abbey is also well worth visiting as it is believed to be one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in the country. At its height it was one of the richest of all Scottish Abbeys, with its wealth coming from the lands that surrounded it, upon which were schools, churches and small holdings. Though some of the abbey was destroyed after a cannon bombardment in the 1540’s it remains architecturally appealing.

Things to See and Do

If you like to cycle you will enjoy the numerous cycle routes that the area has to offer, routes which take in much of the fabulous border scenery. Head out of town a few miles and pay a visit to Hume Castle which offers spectacular views of The Merse. This ancient medieval castle was once believed to be the one of the strongest in the whole of Scotland with the most formidable defences of any stronghold.

Less than ten miles away from Kelso you will find the border town of Jedburgh. This is a place with strong connections to Mary Queen of Scots, the lady herself having stayed in the town in 1566. You can follow events in her tragic life at the Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre. Here too you will also find a castle, which also housed the Jedburgh Jail and Museum. At the castle you will learn more about the towns royal connections and you will also be able to get a feel for what life was like in the prison during the 1820’s.

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