Kelso seen from the Cobby Tweedside meadow
|Population||6,870 (mid-2020 est.)|
|OS grid reference|
|• Edinburgh||44 mi (71 km)|
|• London||350 mi (560 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Kelso (Scots : Kelsae Scottish Gaelic : Cealsaidh) is a market town in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland. Within the boundaries of the historic county of Roxburghshire, it lies where the rivers Tweed and Teviot have their confluence. The town has a population of 5,639 according to the 2011 census and based on the 2010 definition of the locality.
Kelso's main tourist draws are the ruined Kelso Abbey and Floors Castle. The latter is a house designed by William Adam which was completed in 1726. The Kelso Bridge was designed by John Rennie who later built London Bridge.
Kelso held the UK record for the lowest January temperature at −26.7 °C (−16.1 °F), from 1881 until 1982.
The town of Kelso came into being as a direct result of the creation of Kelso Abbey in 1128. The town's name stems from the earliest settlement having stood on a chalky outcrop, and the town was known as Calkou (or perhaps Calchfynydd) in those early days, something that is remembered in the modern street name, "Chalkheugh Terrace".
Standing on the opposite bank of the River Tweed from the now-vanished royal burgh of Roxburgh, Kelso and its sister hamlet of Wester Kelso were linked to the burgh by a ferry at Wester Kelso. A small hamlet existed before the completion of the abbey in 1128 but the settlement started to flourish with the arrival of the monks. Many were skilled craftsmen, and they helped the local population as the village expanded.
Archaeological excavations in the 1980s discovered that the original medieval burgh of Wester Kelso was much farther west than previously believed and that it was abandoned in the 14th or 15th centuries, at the same time that the royal burgh of Roxburgh was deserted, likely the result of the English occupation of Roxburgh Castle. The other settlement of Easter Kelso, near the abbey, survived and expanded from the market area around the abbey northwards towards the Floors estate by the early 18th century. Thus ‘Easter’ Kelso, became Kelso.
The abbey controlled much of life in Kelso-area burgh of barony, called Holydean, until the Reformation in the 16th century. After that, the power and wealth of the abbey declined. The Kerr family of Cessford took over the barony and many of the abbey's properties around the town. By the 17th century, they virtually owned Kelso.
In Roxburgh Street is the outline of a horseshoe petrosomatoglyph where the horse of Charles Edward Stuart cast a shoe as he was riding it through the town on his way to Carlisle in 1745. He is also said to have planted a white rosebush in his host's garden, descendants of which are still said to flourish in the area.
For some period of time, the Kelso parish was able to levy a tax of 2 pence (2d) on every Scottish pint of ale, beer or porter sold within the town.The power to do this was extended for 21 years in 1802 under the Kelso Two Pennies Scots Act when the money was being used to replace a bridge across the River Tweed that had been destroyed by floods.
Kelso Town Hall was completed in 1816 and remodelled in 1908.The war memorial was erected in 1921 to a design by Sir Robert Lorimer.
Kelso High School provides secondary education to the town, and primary education is provided by Edenside Primary and Broomlands Primary.
The River Tweed at Kelso is renowned for its salmon fishing. There are two eighteen-hole golf courses as well as a National Hunt (jumping) horse racing track. Kelso Racecourse is known as "Britain's Friendliest Racecourse." Racing first took place in Kelso in 1822.
In 2005, the town hosted the 'World Meeting of Citroën 2CV Friends' in the grounds of nearby Floors Castle.
The town's rugby union club is Kelso RFC. The club holds an annual rugby sevens tournament takes place in early May. Former players include Ross Ford, the current record holder for men's senior caps with the Scotland men's rugby union team. Other former players include John Jeffrey, Roger Baird, Andrew Ker and Adam Roxburgh, who all featured in 7s teams that dominated the Borders circuit in the 1980s - including several wins in the blue ribbon event at Melrose. Kelso RFC also hold an annual rugby fixture; this fixture is the oldest unbroken fixture between a Scottish and Welsh side.
Every year in July, the town celebrates the border tradition of Common Riding, known as Kelso Civic Week. The festival lasts a full week and is headed by the Kelsae Laddie with his Right and Left Hand Men. The Laddie and his followers visit neighbouring villages on horseback with the climax being the Yetholm Ride on the Saturday. Kelso hosts its annual fair on the first weekend of September. The festivities include dancing, street entertainers, live music, stalls and a free concert. The fair attracts about 10,000 people to the town.
Sir Walter Scott attended Kelso Grammar School in 1783 and he said of the town: "it is the most beautiful if not the most romantic village in Scotland". Another attraction is the Cobby Riverside Walk which goes from the town centre to Floors Castle along the banks of the Tweed passing the point where it is joined by the River Teviot. Kelso has three bridges that span the River Tweed, "Rennie's Bridge" was completed in 1803to replace an earlier one washed away in the floods of 1797, it was built by John Rennie of Haddington, who later went on to build Waterloo Bridge in London, his bridge in Kelso is a smaller and earlier version of Waterloo Bridge. The bridge was the cause of local rioting in 1854 when the Kelso population objected to paying tolls even when the cost of construction had been covered, the Riot Act was read, three years later tolls were abolished. Hunter's Bridge, a kilometre downstream, is a modern construction built to divert vehicles around the town and so take much of the heavy traffic that has damaged Rennie's bridge.
Famous people from Kelso have included the suffragette Georgiana Solomon who was born here in 1844, the civil engineer Sir James Brunlees (1816–1892) who constructed many railways in the United Kingdom as well as designing the docks at Avonmouth and Whitehaven. Sir William Fairbairn (1789–1874) was another engineer who built the first iron hulled steamship the Lord Dundas and constructed over 1,000 bridges using the tubular steel method which he pioneered. Thomas Pringle the writer, poet and abolitionist, was born at nearby Blakelaw, a 500-acre (2.0 km2) farmstead four miles (6 km) to the south of the town where his father was the tenant. Donald Farmer, a Victoria Cross recipient was born in Kelso, as was Ross Ford, who holds the record for the most senior caps (110) with the men's Scotland national rugby union team.
Robert Allan Smith (1909-1980) physicist, was born and brought up in Kelso.
Much of the 1984 film Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes was filmed on location at Floors Castle in Kelso, which featured as the fictional Greystoke Manor.
Kelso features in the traditional folk music ballad 'The Shepherd Lad of Kelso', as well as 'The Old Woman of Kelso', a variation of the ballad Eggs and Marrowbone.
Floors Castle is a large stately home just outside Kelso. It is a visitor attraction. Adjacent to the house there is a large walled garden with a cafe, a small garden centre and the Star Plantation.
Kelso is twinned with two cities abroad:
Hawick is a town in the Scottish Borders council area and historic county of Roxburghshire in the east Southern Uplands of Scotland. It is 10 miles (16.1 km) south-west of Jedburgh and 8.9 miles (14.3 km) south-south-east of Selkirk. It is one of the farthest towns from the sea in Scotland, in the heart of Teviotdale, and is the biggest town in the former county of Roxburghshire. The town is at the confluence of the Slitrig Water with the River Teviot.
The Scottish Borders is one of 32 council areas of Scotland. It borders the City of Edinburgh, Dumfries and Galloway, East Lothian, Midlothian, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian and, to the south-west, south and east, the English counties of Cumbria and Northumberland. The administrative centre of the area is Newtown St Boswells.
The Duke of Roxburghe is a title in the peerage of Scotland created in 1707 along with the titles Marquess of Bowmont and Cessford, Earl of Kelso and Viscount Broxmouth. John Ker, 5th Earl of Roxburghe became the first holder of these titles. The title is derived from the royal burgh of Roxburgh in the Scottish Borders that in 1460 the Scots captured and destroyed.
Berwickshire is a historic county, registration county and lieutenancy area in southeastern Scotland, on the English border. It takes its name from Berwick-upon-Tweed, which was part of Scotland at the time of the county's formation, but became part of England in 1482 after several centuries of swapping back and forth between the two kingdoms.
Jedburgh is a town and former royal burgh in the Scottish Borders and the traditional county town of the historic county of Roxburghshire, the name of which was randomly chosen for Operation Jedburgh in support of the D-Day invasion.
Peebles is a town in the Scottish Borders, Scotland. It was historically a royal burgh and the county town of Peeblesshire. According to the 2011 census, the population was 8,376 and the estimated population in June 2018 was 9,000.
Selkirk is a town and historic royal burgh in the Scottish Borders council district of southeastern Scotland. It lies on the Ettrick Water, a tributary of the River Tweed.
Roxburghshire or the County of Roxburgh is a historic county and registration county in the Southern Uplands of Scotland. It borders Dumfriesshire to the west, Selkirkshire and Midlothian to the north-west, and Berwickshire to the north. To the south-west it borders Cumberland and to the south-east Northumberland, both in England.
Roxburgh, also known as Rosbroch, is a civil parish and formerly a royal burgh, in the historic county of Roxburghshire in the Scottish Borders, Scotland. It was an important trading burgh in High Medieval to early modern Scotland. In the Middle Ages it had at least as much importance as Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, or Berwick-upon-Tweed, for a time acting as de facto capital.
Kelso Abbey is a ruined Scottish abbey in Kelso, Scotland. It was founded in the 12th century by a community of Tironensian monks first brought to Scotland in the reign of Alexander I. It occupies ground overlooking the confluence of the Tweed and Teviot waters, the site of what was once the Royal Burgh of Roxburgh and the intended southern centre for the developing Scottish kingdom at that time. Kelso thus became the seat of a pre-eminently powerful abbacy in the heart of the Scottish Borders.
The River Teviot, or Teviot Water, is a river of the Scottish Borders area of Scotland, and is the largest tributary of the River Tweed by catchment area. The Teviot is an important river for wildlife, especially the Atlantic salmon, but in recent years has witnessed at least four extreme flooding events.
Floors Castle, in Roxburghshire, south-east Scotland, is the seat of the Duke of Roxburghe. Despite its name it is an estate house rather than a fortress. It was built in the 1720s by the architect William Adam for Duke John, possibly incorporating an earlier tower house. In the 19th century it was embellished with turrets and battlements, designed by William Playfair, for The 6th Duke of Roxburghe. Floors has the common 18th-century layout of a main block with two symmetrical service wings. Floors Castle stands by the bank of the River Tweed and overlooks the Cheviot Hills to the south.
Roxburgh Castle is a ruined royal castle that overlooks the junction of the rivers Tweed and Teviot, in the Borders region of Scotland. The town and castle developed into the royal burgh of Roxburgh, which the Scots destroyed along with the castle after capturing it in 1460. Today the ruins stand in the grounds of Floors Castle, the seat of the Duke of Roxburghe, across the river from Kelso.
Halydean is a Scottish feudal Crown Barony and Lordship in Roxburghshire in the neighbourhood of Kelso, in the Borderlands of Scotland, along the River Tweed. This area along the Tweed is home to the Scottish border clans, including the Armstrongs, Douglases, Elliots, Johnstones, Kers, Moffats, and many others. The Barony and Lordship of Halydean (Holydean) is one of the oldest Norman feudal baronies in Scotland with a living claimant.
The Anglo-Scottish border is a border separating Scotland and England which runs for 96 miles (154 km) between Marshall Meadows Bay on the east coast and the Solway Firth in the west. The surrounding area is sometimes referred to as "the Borderlands".
The Borders Abbeys Way is a long-distance footpath in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland. It is a circular walkway and is 109 kilometres (68 mi) in length. The theme of the footpath is the ruined Borders abbeys along its way: Kelso Abbey, Jedburgh Abbey, Melrose Abbey and Dryburgh Abbey. These abbeys were homes to monks, who lived there between the 12th and 16th centuries. The route also passes through the towns of Hawick and Selkirk, and close to Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott. Along the Borders Abbeys Way there are several rivers: Jed Water, River Teviot, River Tweed, Ale Water, and Rule Water.
Roxburgh is a village off the A699, by the River Teviot, near Kelso in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland.
Kelso High School is a state-funded comprehensive secondary school in Kelso, Scotland, under the control of the Scottish Borders Council. It is one of nine secondary schools in the Scottish Borders and the only one in Kelso. Pupils come to Kelso High School from the town of Kelso, the villages of Ednam, Eckford, Stichill, Smailholm, Morebattle, Roxburgh, Yetholm and other hamlets in the surrounding area. The current building was opened to students in November 2017.
Kelso Town Hall is a municipal building in The Square, Kelso, Scotland. The building, which was the headquarters of Kelso Burgh Council, is a Category B listed building.