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Cottages at Smailholm village

Smailholm is a small village and parish in Roxburghshire, adjacent to the border with Berwickshire. The village straddles the B6397 Gordon to Kelso road and is almost equidistant from both, standing six miles north-west of the abbey town of Kelso. The parish borders Mertoun, Earlston and Nenthorn (all in Berwickshire) to the west, north and east respectively; and Kelso and Makerstoun in its own county to the south.


Smailholm, in keeping with most of the south eastern part of Scotland, was part of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria and was named from the Old English language as Smael Ham meaning narrow village.[1] In early mediæval times, the village was larger than it is now and was divided into three separate parts, East Third, West Third and Overtown. Sir Walter Scott, as a boy, was a regular visitor to his grandfather's farm at Sandyknowe. Captain Cook's mother Jean was born in Smailholm and married his father in Smailholm Church. Before the end of the 18th century, there were two schools in the village, a parochial school and a private establishment at Sandyknowe. St Cuthbert is believed to have been born at Wrangham, a long-disappeared village at New Smailholm. King Edward I passed through Smailholm in 1303 on his march to Lauder.

Smailholm Church


David de Oliford was granted the church and manor of Smailholm in the 12th century by King David I. De Oliford subsequently granted the church and its tithes to the Benedictine monks of Coldingham Priory who held the church until the Reformation in 1560. Smailholm Kirk avoided demolition after the Reformation and parts of an early Norman structure can still be seen in the chancel. The present church has had major renovation and renewal in 1632 and 1820.[2] The church contains fine stained glass windows from 1907 commemorating Sir Walter Scott. Some of the ministers in the early years of the reformed church include : David Forsyth, Archibald Oswald and James Hunter.

The Tower

Smailholm Tower in the Winter

Smailholm Tower, one in a string of Borders keeps guarding the Tweed valley, was built not later than the early 15th century, when it was held by the powerful Pringle family,[3] four of whom were killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. The tower passed, in 1745, to the Scotts of Harden but they left the structure in 1800. The tower fell into a perilous condition but was partially restored in the 1980s and is now in the care of Historic Scotland.

Popular Culutre

  • Smailholm appeared in the third case of Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator, in which the titular hero investigates the mysterious ritual murder of two local girls, and discovers a shocking secret about the town à la The Wicker Man.
The Village Hall at Smailholm


Outside links