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Publication Account

Date 1985

Event ID 1016143

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


A 'New Kirk of Ettrick' was built early in the 16th century, though the present church dates from 1824-a typical T-shaped, post-Reformation building. Internally it remains a 'preaching kirk'. The pulpit with its characteristic sounding board sunnounted by a dove,and the precentor's desk in front of it stand in the centre of the south side; the pews face inwards from the east and west sides and from a deep north aisle. Over the west end and the aisle there are galleries reached by a stair in the tower; and over the east end there is a laird's loft, reached by the outside stair rising either side of the east door. Before the present Table was introduced, on Communion Sundays boards were simply placed over the pews immediately in front of the pulpit.

There are a number ofinteresting stones in the church and churchyard. A small 17th century stone set in the south wall commemorates Sir Robert Scott of Thirlestane's son Robert who died in 1619; a white freestone tablet set inside the tower, in the wall above the door, suggests in Latin that one Waiter (perhaps Robert Scott's second son, of Gamescluch, died 1609) did something "for God, the Greatest and Best, and for the Church of Christ". Such use of a pagan Roman fonnula, turned to a Christian context, was a common literary device of the period, though unusual in Scottish inscriptions. The lettering is late 17th-early 18th century and similar to that of a 1709 stone in the churchyard. It may have been erected by Sir Francis Scott of Thirlestane, grandson of Waiter and greatgrandson of Robert; he died in 1712.

In the churchyard are a number of very small headstones, naturally-shaped and probably glaciallyrounded river boulders. They are said to have been brought from the Over Kirkhope burial ground and to have been known locally as 'bulls'. One is inscribed WBIN/1691.

Otherwise there are numerous 17th-18th century headstones, several connected with the life and family of James Hogg, 'The Ettrick Shepherd', born nearby. The writer himself (1770-1835) is buried here; also his mother Margaret Laidlaw, her father William Laidlaw ('Will o' Phaup'), her husband Robert Hogg and three more of their sons.

Much of the land at the confluence of the Tilme Water and the Ettrick Water is marshy and beset with scrub and thickets. It gives a fair impression of what many a valley bottom would have been like before proper draining!

Information from 'Exploring Scotland's Heritage: Lothian and Borders', (1985).

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