Selkirk, Scottish Borders

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.

Selkirk town centre, tolbooth and Sir Walter Scott statue.jpg
Selkirk town centre, showing the town house and the statue of Sir Walter Scott
Selkirk is located in Scottish Borders
Location within the Scottish Borders
Population4,540 (mid-2020 est.)[1]
OS grid referenceNT471288
• Edinburgh31 mi (50 km)
• London301 mi (484 km)
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSELKIRK
Postcode districtTD7
Dialling code01750
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°33′00″N 2°50′24″W / 55.550°N 2.84002°W / 55.550; -2.84002

The people of the town are known as Souters, which means cobblers (shoe makers and menders). At the time of the 2011 census, Selkirk's population was 5,784.[2][3]


Selkirk Town House in Selkirk Market Place
Statue of Fletcher outside Victoria Halls, Selkirk

Selkirk was formerly the county town of Selkirkshire. Selkirk is one of the oldest Royal Burghs in Scotland and is the site of the earliest settlements in what is now the Scottish Borders.[4] The town's name means "church by the hall" from the Old English sele ("hall" or "manor") and cirice ("church").[5][6]

Selkirk was the site of the first Borders abbey, a community of Tironensian monks who moved to Kelso Abbey during the reign of King David I. In 1113, King David I granted Selkirk large amounts of land. William Wallace was declared guardian of Scotland in the town at the Kirk o' the Forest in 1297.[7]

Selkirk sent a contingent of 80 men to fight at the Battle of Flodden in 1513; however, only one man, "Fletcher", returned from the battle, bearing a blood-stained English flag belonging to the Macclesfield regiment.[8]

During the series of conflicts that would become known as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, Selkirk played host the Royalist army of James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, with his cavalry installed in the burgh, whilst the Royalist infantry were camped at the plain of Philiphaugh, below the town. On the morning of 13 September 1645, a covenanting army led by Sir David Leslie attacked the royalist forces camped at Philiphaugh, and a rout ensued. Montrose arrived to find his army in disarray and had to the flee the field. The surrendered Royalist troops were subsequently executed.[9]

The novelist, Sir Walter Scott, presided, as the sheriff-depute, in the courtroom at Selkirk Town House in the early-19th century.[10]

Selkirk grew in the mid-19th century because of its woollen industry, although it largely closed in the 1970s.[11] The town is also known for bannocks, a dry fruit cake, which was first sold in the market place by a local baker, Robbie Douglas, in 1859.[12]


The Selkirk Common Riding is a celebration of the history and traditions of the Royal and Ancient Burgh. It is held on the second Friday after the first Monday in June.[13]


The remains of the "forest kirk", referred to in ancient times as the church of St Mary of the Forest, still stand in the old churchyard. It is also the final resting place of several maternal ancestors of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the US.[14]

Just to the south of the town is The Haining, the late 18th-century residence of the Pringle family. In 2009 the last owner died, and left the house and grounds "for the benefit of the community of Selkirkshire and the wider public."[15] A charitable trust is now planning to restore the building as an art gallery.[16]

The Selkirk GraceEdit

The Selkirk Grace has no connection with the town of Selkirk, beyond its name; it originated in the west of Scotland. Although attributed to Robert Burns, the Selkirk Grace was already known in the 17th century, as the "Galloway Grace" or the "Covenanters' Grace". It came to be called the Selkirk Grace because Burns was said to have delivered it at a dinner given by the Earl of Selkirk at St Mary's Isle Priory, in Kirkcudbright in Galloway.[17]

In Scots
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
In English
Some have meat and cannot eat,
And some would eat that want it,
But we have meat and we can eat,
So let God be thanked.


Rugby union plays its role in Selkirk culture and society. Selkirk RFC play in their home games at Philiphaugh, competing in the Scottish Premiership and the Border League.[18]

The town cricket club was formed in 1851 and still plays in the Border League. The cricket ground at Philiphaugh is the site of the Battle of Philiphaugh.[19]

The town also has a footballing tradition, having produced some players of note in the Scottish game including Bobby Johnstone of Hibernian.[20]

Notable peopleEdit

High Street, Selkirk, and the Mungo Park Monument (2018).


Like the rest of the British Isles, Selkirk has a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. However the area appears to have one of the widest absolute temperature ranges in the United Kingdom. The absolute minimum temperature of −26.6 °C (−15.9 °F) at the nearest weather station is both a daily record,[37] and the record lowest temperature for the UK outside of the Highlands. Conversely, Scotland's highest temperature of 32.9 °C (91.2 °F) was recorded at Greycook, St. Boswells[38] just 8 miles (13 km) to the east.

Climate data for Bowhill, 168 m above sea level, 1971–2000, Extremes 1960– (Weather station 2.3 miles (4 km) to the West of Selkirk)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 12.6
Average high °C (°F) 5.3
Average low °C (°F) −0.4
Record low °C (°F) −26.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 95.16
Source: Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute[39]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Mid-2020 Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland". National Records of Scotland. 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  2. ^ "Scotland Census 2011".
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Selkirk General Community Profile 2014, p3
  4. ^ Neville, Gwen Kennedy (1994). The Mother Town: Civic Ritual, Symbol, and Experience in the Borders of Scotland. Oxford: Oxford UP. p. 76. ISBN 9780195090321.
  5. ^ A Dictionary of British Place-Names, David Mills, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011, ISBN 019960908X, 9780199609086. p.411
  6. ^ "Selkirk - Ordnance Survey large scale Scottish town plans, 1847-1895 - National Library of Scotland".
  7. ^ "Study uncovers potential Kirk of the Forest site where William Wallace was made Guardian of Scotland". Scottish Borders Council. 29 April 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  8. ^ "Selkirk & the Fletcher Monument". Flodden 1513. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  9. ^ "Battle of Philiphaugh". Historic Environment Scotland. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  10. ^ "Sir Walter Scott's Courtroom". Live Borders. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  11. ^ "George Roberts and Co., Woollen Manufacturer, Selkirk". Archives Hub. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  12. ^ "Selkirk Bannock". Practically Edible: The Web's Biggest Food Encyclopaedia. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2008.
  13. ^ "Selkirk Common Riding". Selkirk Royal Burgh. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  14. ^ "The Auld Kirk". Scotland Starts Here. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  15. ^ "Altruistic millionaire leaves his historic mansion for the benefit of the community". The Southern Reporter. 6 August 2009.
  16. ^ "Vision: Art Gallery and Visitors Centre". The Haining, Selkirkshire. Haining Charitable Trust. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  17. ^ "What is the Selkirk Grace prayer - and why is it recited on Burns Night?". Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  18. ^ "Let there be light as Selkirk RFC planning bid approved". Border Telegraph. 8 May 2022. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  19. ^ "Welcome". Selkirk Cricket Club. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  20. ^ a b Bobby Johnstone. The Passing of an Age by John Leigh ISBN 978-1-908234-28-5
  21. ^ "Selkirk, Scottish Borders". Dictionary of Canadian Biography (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. 1979–2016.
  22. ^ "Obituary - Peter Blake, Scots actor best known for Dear John". The Herald. Glasgow. 27 July 2018. Archived from the original on 28 July 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  23. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Scotts Place, Plaque to J. B. Selkirk (LB43810)". Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  24. ^ Urban, Sylvanus, ed. (1866). "Deaths". The Gentleman's Magazine, or Monthly Intelligencer. London: Bradbury, Evans and Co. 1 (January–June 1866): 761–762.
  25. ^ "Monarch Of The Glen – Live Chats". BBC. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  26. ^ "Bench in memory of Selkirk singer unveiled in home town". Border Telegraph. 1 December 2021. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  27. ^ "Andrew Lang: the life and times of a prolific talent". The Scotsman. 30 January 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  28. ^ "Lang, Gideon Scott (1819-1880)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 24 October 2007.
  29. ^ "Sandy McMahon". Celtic F. C. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  30. ^ "Will Ogilvie. Poet is A.R.P. warden. Scotland ready for invaders". The Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of New South Wales. Vol. 72, no. 9062. 9 August 1941. p. 4. Retrieved 29 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  31. ^ "Mungo Park". Scotland Starts Here. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  32. ^ "Mr. John Roberts". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]. 1905. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  33. ^ Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby, Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997, ISBN 1-86200-013-1, p. 156
  34. ^ "Sale 7555". Christie's. 2008. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  35. ^ Grave of James Sorley, Cannes Cemetery
  36. ^ "Tibbie Tamson's Grave". Canmore. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  37. ^ "1982 temperature". TORRO. Archived from the original on 19 January 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  38. ^ "2003 temperature". UKMO.
  39. ^ "Bowhill Climate". KNMI.

External linksEdit