Community News, Information and Events
In a short time the traveller will come to a farm, a wood and a quarry all named after an Altarstone which most people will probably miss because it is now built into the dyke which borders the road. It was at this spot that Merlin is reputed to have been converted to Christianity in the 6th century by St Mungo (St Kentigern), the patron saint of Glasgow.
Further on, at Dreva where the Biggar Water meets the Tweed, is one of the many iron age settlements in the area. This, however, is one of the more remarkable. The walls are now razed to the ground, but it is possible to see where the fort once stood on a spur overlooking the valley some 250 feet below. Giving the imagination free rein it is also possible to see what the experts tell us lies a short distance from this rocky outcrop: this is a chevaux de frise - an area in which rocks have been half-buried to form an obstacle to horsemen attacking the fort.
We will now retrace our steps and continue down the Tweed, which follows the valley below.
Shortly after rejoining the road we left earlier, we come to Stobo Castle - hidden behind some dense woodland. A 'castle' it never was. It was built to look exactly like a medieval fortress, but that was in the first decade of the 19th century. It is a truly handsome building and now a health spa. The water-gardens close by are open to the public fora couple of days each year; given the opportunity, a visit here is a 'must'.
A little further along the road we do pass a building which is old. It is a Norman church which was built in the 12th century on the foundations of an even earlier church and is one of the very few churches hereabouts to have survived the Reformation unscathed. Here the traveller should stop a while, soak in the atmosphere and, with a little loose change, take the booklet available which tells more of the history of this church.
Here, for example, are the Jougs fixed to a wall at the entrance. This was an iron collar which fastened around the neck of a 'delinquent' who was thus exposed to the scorn of the congregation as they passed into the church. One such 'delinquent' was an outspoken parishioner who, in September 1683, had rebuked the minister for not preaching according to the Scriptures - he thought that the sermon had not been worth the hearing. He suffering the indignity of the Jougs and, still unrepentant, was cast into the local jail. He maintained that he would lie there forever - but two days later he decided that his pride was not worth the discomfort.
©1996 Douglas Gregor