If you have never heard of the pretty town of Peebles, it is located where the River Tweed meets Eddleston Water before reaching the sea. Peebles once held great importance as it was along the major route from the Scottish borders through to the major city of Edinburgh. There have been settlements in this part of Scotland for millennia, as witnessed by the many remains of fortified structures that have been found in the area. It is believed that the first church to appear in what is now Peebles was built in the 600’s, and is a site that has been built upon by successive religious buildings, especially the parish church which was consecrated on the site of the earlier build in 1195, some remains of which can still be seen today. Unfortunately the English destroyed this church in 1548, with a new one having to be built in the wake of the reformation, this became known as Cross Kirk.
Churches for Everyone
For such a small town there are a significant number of churches the most noticeable of which must be the Leckie Memorial Church with its magnificent spire of 146 feet which was constructed in 1876. However it is the parish church which is the dominant feature of the high street. Throughout its history Peebles has been a town of importance, which is perhaps reflected in the number of churches that are found here, with travellers making their way through the town in great numbers, it was important that they should have somewhere to pray.
Its importance was highlighted with the building of a castle in the 1100’s, on the aptly named Castle Hill which is located at the western end of the current High Street, its job being to guard the bridge that spanned the River Tweed. Reports differ as to how the castle met its ruin, some say that it was torched by the English in 1403, or perhaps it was the English when they attached in 1548. Though it is possible that whilst the castle remained standing after being gutted by fire, that its stones were removed and used in the reconstruction of the town and the parish church that stands on the site today.
There is still a castle standing though, Neidpath Castle is located only a mile from Peebles and overlooks the waters of the Tweed. This castle dates back to the late 1300’s though renovations were undertaken in the 1500’s and 1600’s. The castle however remains occupied, being home to the family of the Earl of Wemyss who acquired that castle in 1810. The heart of Peebles has to be the main High Street which is the centre of activity in the town; it is where all of the major stores are located and is also the main dining and entertainment area. Parts of the High Street date back to the 1500’s, yet there is just something timeless about the place that you can’t help but feel as you explore the town.