Scottish Borders

Historic Heartland

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Overview

Start in the fishing village of Eyemouth and then visit Saint Abbs with its nature reserve and bird colony. Visit the hill fort ruins of Eden’s Hall Broch, Duns Castle and Hume Castle. Take in Mellerstain House, the ruins of Roxburgh Castle, Kelso and the stately home of Floors Castle. Pause at Coldstream and finish at Paxton House.

Eyemouth

The first significant settlement you encounter after crossing the Scottish border is part seaside resort and part working fishing harbour with a boatyard. Gunsgreen House built in 1753 for local smuggler John Nisbet included special places to hide merchandise. The Auld Kirk is now a museum. For a brief time the town was garrisoned by 500 French troops.

St Abbs

A small, picturesque fishing village situated at the foot of the St Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve and adjacent to the St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve. The area is internationally important for its rugged landscape and seabird colony, and is best viewed from the cliffs near the lighthouse.

Edin's Hall Broch

An extraordinary large and rare example of this type of fortification in lowland Scotland. Built in the first century AD within the earlier defences of an Iron Age hillfort, it is likely this was some form of high status residence. Cockburn Law hillfort overlooks the site and may have been contemporary.

Duns Castle

Built in the 14th century and now surrounded by parkland. Within the grounds lies Duns Law, an historic site of special interest, where the famous uprising against King Charles I, known as the Scottish Covenant, took place in 1639. It has been a hill fort since Neolithic times.

Hume Castle

Built upon a natural outcrop of rock, the castle was constructed in a rectangular courtyard plan. Successive Lords Home were Wardens of the Eastern Marches, policing the Scottish side of the Border, which was less than five miles away. For generations the fortress was alternately in the hands of the English and Scots. Access is free.

Mellerstain House

One of the great houses and gardens of Scotland begun in 1725 and finally completed in 1778, this grand stately home has a fascinating history and is of unique architectural interest. The result of a fruitful collaboration between the Baillie family and two of Scotland’s greatest architects, William Adam and his son Robert.

Roxburgh Castle

Once a key border fortress on the River Tweed, Roxburgh Castle was built by David I of Scotland but changed hands on multiple occasions. James II was killed whilst besieging the site and it was subsequently stormed and demolished.

Kelso & Floors Castle

Just outside the delightful market town stands Floors Castle designed by William Adam for the 1st Duke of Roxburghe in 1721 originally as a plain but symmetrical Georgian country house. Remodelled between 1837 and 1847 to create a fairy tale castle and grounds. The ruins of 12th century Kelso Abbey in the town are worth exploring.

Coldstream

The town lies on the River Tweed, the lowest point it can be forded. This meant it was often in the way when both Scottish and English armies crossed the border. It gave its name to the Guards regiment who marched from here to London in 1660, an action that resulted in the restoration of Charles II. The Coldstream Museum highlights the history of the regiment.

Paxton House

Built between 1758-63 this is one of the finest examples of neo-Palladian design. Filled with an outstanding collection of mahogany furniture from Britain’s master cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale still on display in the rooms for which it was commissioned. He also provided wallpaper, soft furnishings and wall decorations amongst many other things.

Overview

1

Eyemouth

2
4.4 miles

St Abbs

3
15.0 miles

Edin's Hall Broch

4
8.8 miles

Duns Castle

5
10.6 miles

Hume Castle

6
4.7 miles

Mellerstain House

7
9.0 miles

Roxburgh Castle

8
1.9 miles

Kelso & Floors Castle

9
9.5 miles

Coldstream

10
13.6 miles

Paxton House

What to see and do…

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About the Historic Heartland Trail

Distance:77 miles
Cities / Towns:10
Number Of Businesses:0

Starting in the fishing village of Eyemouth on the unspoilt South East coast of Scotland the town has a rich history of smuggling. Nearby Saint Abbs is another fishing village and nature reserve with dramatic scenery and bird colony. Take in the Iron Age hill fort ruins of Eden’s Hall Broch before arriving at romantic Duns Castle and on to the hilltop Hume Castle. Changing style a visit to impressive Mellerstain House follows, then the ruins of Roxburgh Castle before arriving in Kelso and the nearby stately home of Floors Castle. Stopping at Coldstream and finally on to Paxton House full of Chippendale furniture.

Border Crossings

The Tweed forms part of the border between Scotland and England with invading armies criss-crossing the area for centuries. As well as major battles and sieges there were more localised skirmishes intended to secure goods and ransom money. Castles at Duns, Hume and the ruins of Roxburgh were important attempts to pacify the area.

The Adam's Family

Robert together with older brother John and father William set up in Edinburgh to create a lasting legacy of neo-classical architecture, furniture and interior design. Some of the finest examples of their work can be found in the stately homes of the Scottish Borders, including Mellerstain House and Paxton House.

Early Settlements

Two fortifications were established during the Iron Age (800 BC to AD 43). One Edin’s Hall Broch and the other Cockburn Law and may have fallen into disrepair from the time the area was incorporated into the Roman Empire in AD 138.