11.  Pilgrim Ways, Chapels and the Expansion of Christianity. 

The Pilgrim's Way through Upper Tweed was well worn by a succession of peoples.   Probably firstly by Sun God adherants followed by the Druids.   Then luminaries such as Merlin, St. Kentigern (St Mungo), and St Cuthbert etc.   See chart below.

The fact that the Upper Tweed valley had been the route of a Pilgrims Way is evidenced by the site of what must have been an imposing way marker on the Dumfriesshire border at the south end of Tweedsmuir parish.  For more about this see the Tweeds Cross page.   The cross would have been seen for miles particularly from the south by travellers/pilgrims heading north from England and SW Scotland via the extensive ecclesiastical site of Hoddom in Annandale - Canmore ID 66705 and 69504.  In addition to Tweeds Cross the locations of Crook/Cruik/Crux/Cross can be found through Tweedmuir Parish and beyond at present day parish boundaries.  The date of erection of the Tweeds Cross and other cross locations is unknown but is was probably around the time of St Cuthbert 634-687 AD or shortly thereafter.   Merlin in the late sixth century and St Kentigern 540-584 AD were before this time so when they traversed the Upper Tweed Valley - see below - the only markers then were ancient boundary markers.   The trackway between Moffat and Tweedsmuir via Fruid shown as the right hand route on the chart at foot of this page passes through the designated Talla-Hart Fells Wild Land Area.(20)   This route was probably a very early route to access the site of Druidical Sun Worship area at the head of the Devil's Beeftub(1)(7).   It would also have have been the route that Merlin traversed on his journeys via Hartfell.(18) (19).   The route would also give access the 2000 BC Standing Stones that may also have been a druidical site at Tweedsmuir and also probably what was sited on the mound on which the present Parish Kirk stands - see page 3 Standing Stones.


Tweeds Cross was beside what was known as the Old Edinburgh Road.   There was a probable cross/ Pilgrim's way/boundary marker at the site of the Crook Inn that gave the Inn its name see origins of Crook name page.   There would also have been a further way marker at the ford over the River Tweed at the Tweedsmuir Kirk Mound (Chapel Knowe) site or close by beside the main road at the site of the present day building, the Bield.  The word Bield is the Scots word for shelter or refuge. We do know that this was the location of the ford from a letter from Clavehouse in 1682 who stated they they (Covenanters) crossed Tweed at the Bile.(10)   The Bield at this time was an Inn and Change-House.



See the Crown of Scotland page for more about that area.

The Pilgrim's Way would be the route for pilgrims heading north/south from/to England/Wales to Glasgow then to Iona, but more importantly to the Queensferry - the ferry crossing of the River Forth to continue to St. Andrews.   The new cable-stayed road bridge has been constructed at this location and opened on 30th August 2017, and has inspirationally been named The Queensferry Crossing.

An excellent trail has been established covering the life of Merlin - www.merlintrail.com/the-merlin-trail/ (18).  The section between Hoddom in Annandale and Stobo in Tweeddale is included in the Pilgrim's Way under discussion - see chart above. 

It is probable that St. Mungo (St. Kentigern) passed through Tweedsmuir Parish when he walked from St. Asaph's in North Wales to Glasgow.   There are plans by an organisation in North Wales - Kentigren Way Trust - to make a long distance walkway (St. Kentigerns Way) following the probable route that he took.   Part of this trail in Scotland will coincide with the Merlin Trail mentioned above around the Hoddom/Moffat area.   There is now a Kentigren/Mungo stone in the Art Deco garden of the Crook Inn.   This arrived in 2010, complete with labels, as an unwanted feature from a Glasgow public garden.  See page 3 Standing Stones


The next way marker north of Tweedsmuir would be at Crookburn House between Kingledores and the Logan burn shown on Ainslie's map of 1821 on left marked by a X - the name Crookburn suggesting the site of a cross.   The site was known as Cruxburn in a charter of 1572(1).  However, by the first census of 1841 the site is known as the Logan.  Crookburn House is also mentioned in Armstrong's Campanion to and shown on his map of 1775.(7)  The site is just north of what is presumably the Crookburn which was the boundary between the lands of Kingledores and Mossfennan and subsequently between the parishes of Drumellzier and Glenholm when they were formed.  Pennecuik mentions a Craw Kingledoors near to Chapel Kingledores - what is this - Crookburn?(15).  The footpaths from Kingledores and also from Logan to the Glenhome valley are shown on Ainslies map of 1821  marked in red on left above. The route from Kingledores is still shown on present day maps skirting the most northerly of the wind turbines on the Glenkerie wind farm.  From Glenhome the route would be via Kilbucho to Crosscryne (Corscryne) on the Kilbucho?Culter Parish boundaries.  The route from Glenholme to Kilbucho is also shown on this map with the location of Crosscryne shown as a X on the north end of the path.   Crosscryne was certainly a boundary marker but the name suggests the site of a cross (2)(3)(4).   Crosscryne is noted by the RCAHMS and is on Canmore ID 48672.   From Crosscryne the route woud continue into Lanarkshire - Biggar and Carnwath.  Here the route would split via the present A70 westward to Lanark and the Clyde valley then on to Glasgow.  In Lanark there is the ruins of a St Kentigern Church - the only church in Scotland that is dedicated to that saint also there are many dedicated to St. Mungo.  Site noted by RCAHMS  and on Canmore ID 46576.  Tradition has it that it was founded by the saint himself.(12) The route north from Carnwath would be via the A70 to Queensferry skirting to the west of the Pentland Hills.  Both these routes avoided any crossing of the Clyde or Tweed rivers.   The section of the route between Crosscryne and Kingledores/Logan would subsequently be used by Covenanters/Cameronions from Clydesdale attending conventicles and convention meetings at Glenhome and at Talla Linns in Tweedsmuir in the seventeenth century.   More about this on Page 9 Covenanters in Upper Tweed.  This route was also used by John "Evidence" Murray on his ill-fated journey from Kilbucho to Polmood in 1746(16), more about this episode on page 25.2. Capture of Sir John Murray at Polmood House.

As mentioned above it is probable that Merlin passed through Upper Tweed(1)(18).  Tradition has it that he also visited Stobo and was baptised by St Kentigern - St Mungo there.  A stained glass window in the present Stobo Kirk depicts this event.(13) (14).   St Mungo would have travelled to Stobo from Glasgow - route unknown - for this event.  Tradition also has it that Merlin died at Drumelzier.  Stobo Kirk on Canmore - ID 49854.

It is fairly certain that the seventh century Cuthbert later Saint Cuthbert from the Iona community at Old Melrose resided in the Upper Tweed area for a while.   Hence, possibly he founded the chapels at Glenhome, Kingledores, Drumelzier and at Fruid himself.   However, it is more likely that these existing chapels were dedicated to him after he was sanctified in the thirteenth century.  

Apart from the Boundary Pilgrim's Way markers there are three ancient chapel sites in the Parish that would have been  located on the Pilgrims Way.    These chapel sites indicating an expansion in Christianity in the area in the twelth/thirteenth century era or possibly even earlier as the result of the influence on the spread of the doctrines of the Church of Rome by Queen Margaret  (1045-1093) - later St. Margaret - second wife of Malcolm III Canmore (1058-1093), King of Scots.  This doctrine was opposed to that of the earlier Celtic Churches.   Queen Margaret, of course, is the Queen in Queensferry who provided the free ferry service for pilgrims across the River Forth.

The three chapel sites in Tweedsmuir Parish - that would have been located on areas that already had spiritual and/or religious significance - are:- 

a)  Chapel Knowe.  on page 1.3.3. Chapel Knowe.

b)  Fruid Chapel on page 11.1. Fruid Chapel

c)  Kingledores Chapel on page 11.2. Kingledores Chapel.  

The dedication to St Cuthbert of the four chapel sites of Kingledores, Fruid, Glenholm and Drumelzier is an indication that he had a very strong connection with the area.

St. Cuthbert lived in the seventh century and it was at Old Melrose where a community of Monks from Iona had established themselves in their drive to spread Christianity.   Cuthbert had not come from Iona but was local to Old Melrose.  At this time the area now known as the Scottish Borders was part of the ancient Kingdom of Northumbria.  St Cuthbert is more associated with Lindisfarne and Durham but there is no doubt that he was of local to Old Melrose origin.

The Monks from Iona chose a site on the River Tweed as a base from which Christianity could be spread to the Tweed valleys.   This site was Old Melrose which was on the north side of the Tweed a few miles East of the present day site of Melrose Abbey.   The site had been revered by the ancients,  it was on a loop of the river and was surrounded on three sides by water with access by a ford that they named Monksford.   They also named a crossing of the River Teviot as Abbotsford.

The Monks from Old Melrose, particularly Cuthbert began to travel widely, preaching, teaching visiting and living with the "rough hill folk".  Cuthbert sometimes went on horseback, more often on foot.   Bede(5) tells us that it was a labour of love to him and that he made a point of searching out " those steep rugged places in the hills which other preachers dreaded to visit because of their poverty and squalor".   Cuthbert undoubtedly did reach Upper Tweed and his good works were remembered resulting in existing chapels in the area being dedicated to him after he was sanctified?  Why would these chapels be dedicated to him otherwise? 

Armstrong was keen on vestiges of chapels, wayside crosses etc but he makes no mention of Chapel Kingledores in his Peeblesshire narrative.  The site became a Tweedie residence as it is recorded that a David Tweedie married to Margaret Hunter had at least four children born at Chapel Kingdedores, namely Margaret b 07-03-1670, Bessie b 27-02-1672, Agnes b 04-06-1676 and Christine b 21-04-1680.(11) However by the first census of 1841 Chapel Kingledores is not recorded.   

The route of the Pilgrim's Way via Pilgrim/Boundary markers through Upper Tweed is shown above - the right hand route between Moffat and Tweedsmuir is most likely a much earlier footpath predating Tweed's Cross - this route is The Scottish Rights of Way Society Walk No 17(17).   Both routes through the Devil's Beeftub are part of the Annandaleway - www.annandaleway.org.  Mary Clavering in her book of 1953 From the Border Hills(9) walked several sections of our Pilgrim's Way including Moffat to the Crook via Fruid and also Kingledores to Glenhome.



The Royal Commission on the Ancient Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) and Historic Scotland (H.S.)  combined  in 2015 to form a new organisation Historic Environment Scotland (H.E.S.).  The references in the above pages and following references to the RCAHMS and HS should now be read as H.E.S. 

1)   Buchan, J.W, Paton, H, Rev. History of Peeblesshire, Jackson & Wylie, Glasgow, 1927. Vol 3 p370 for Druidical Worship, p370 and 417 for Merlin and p412 for Cruxburn.

2)   Baird, Andrew, Rev; Annals of a Tweeddale Parish, John Smith & Son, Glasgow, 1924. pps 154-155.

3)   Renwick,Robert; Historical Notes on Peeblesshire Localities, Watson & Smyth, Peebles 1897. p271 (Footnote) for Croscryne, p303 for Crispin.

4)   McPherson, David; Geographical Illustrations of Scottish History Containing the Names of Places Mentioned in Chronicles, Histories, Records et. T. Bensley, London, 1796.

5)  Webb, J F, Translator, The Age of Bede - Life of Cuthbert, Penguin, London, 2004. Chapter 9 p57.

6)  Grant, W; Tweeddale, Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh, 1948. p88.

7)   Armstrong, Mostyn, John; A Companion to the map of the County of Peebles, W. Creech, Edinburgh, 1775. p41 for Crookburn House and pp 108-109 for Fruid Chapel & Tweeds Cross.

8)   Railton, Margaret, Compiler; Andrew Lorimer's Life and Times in the Upper Tweed Valley, Tuckwell Press, Edinburgh, 2001. p57.

9)  Clavering, Molly; From the Border Hills, Nelson, Edinburgh, 1953. p215.

10) Scottish History Society; Miscellany, Claverhouse Letters, Edinburgh, 1990. Vol XI p183.

11) Tweedie, Forbes, Michael; The History of the Tweedie, or Tweedy, Family, W. P. Griffiths & Sons, London, 1902.  p203.

12) Davidson, J. M; St. Kentigern Church, Lanark, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquarians of Scotland, Neil & Co, Glasgow, 1912.  Vol 46 p133.

13)  Randall, John; Arthur & Merlin The Tweeddale Connection, J. Randall, 1987.

14) Randall, John; Stobo Kirk, A Guide to the Building and its History, J. Randall, 1997.

15)  Pennecuik, Alexander; The works of Alexander Pennecuik- a New addition with Notes, 1815. p252. 

16)  Ritchie; The Border Magazine, Issue March 1939. p38

17)  Scottish Rights of Way Society; Scottish Hill Tracks, HMSO, Edinburgh, 4th Ed 1999, Walk No 17 p23.

18)  Crichton, Robin; On the Trail of Merlin in a Dark Age. Edinburgh Film Production, 2017. pp40-49 & pp108-110.

19)  Clarkson, Tim; Scotlands Merlin A medieval Legend and its Dark Age Origins, Birlinn, Edinburgh, 2016. pp 116-130.

20) Scottish National Heritage; Talla-Hart Fell Wild Land Area, 2009, map p1.



or back to main Tweedsmuir Parish History page.