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Touring The Homeland

Below Are Places of interest, People to contact, Places to stay, and anything else of interest to someone planning to tour our Ancestral Home. Anyone with additional information please contact Jim Carr ( hamkarr(at)hctc.com ) for inclusion.

  • Following is taken from an article in the March 1994 Border Line, written by it's editor by John T. Kerr

    The Borders town of Jedburgh is a relatively short drive from Edinburgh, and even an afternoon taken from a tight tour schedule can provide many sights of prime importance to Kerr's. First and foremost is FERNIEHIRST CASTLE, a mile or two south of JEDBURGH, which is now the Scottish residence of Lord and Lady Lothian. One lucky visitor there met Lord Lothian and he obliged her by posing for a picture with her. FERNIEHIRST was built about 1476 on the foundations of an earlier forticication. It was involved in much of the history of the 1500s and was destroyed several times by invading English armies. The castle was acquired by Lord Lothian and restored in the 1980d; it is now a showplace of Kerr and Borders history.

    In the town of Jedburgh, JEDBURGH ABBEY is a tremendous relic of old Scotland, having been founded in the 1100s. It too suffered from English invadors in the 1500s. The structure was used for worship until 1875 when the 9th Marquess of Lothian commenced restoration; in 1913 the abbey was transfered to the nation. A Kerr burial area is located in the north transept. Anyone with the name of Kerr or Carr may request from the caretaker or cashier at the gift shop the large iron key that will open the lock of the gate to the transept. This is an exclusive privlege for Kerrs and Carrs.

    MARY QUEEN OF SCOT'S HOUSE, also in the town of Jedburgh, is open to the public on most days.

    North of the town is ANCRUM MOOR, site of the battle with the English in which the Kerrs acquired the Chiefs moto: "Late But In Earnest." The hamlet of Ancrum and its moor are now covered with residential development. Northeast of Jedburgh, and visible from the highway, is MONTEVIOT HOUSE, the large residence above the Teviot River of Michael and Jane Ancram, the Earl and Countess of Ancram. Michael Ancram is a member of Parliment and heir to Lord Lothian's title and chiefship of the Kerr Family.

    Ten miles to the east is the beautiful town of Kelso, close to the confluence of the Tweed and Teviot Rivers. The prime Kerr attraction there is magnificent FLOORS CASTLE, residence of the Duke and Duchess of Roxburgh of the Innes Kers. Floors is an immense palace, said to be the largest residence in Scotland. It is open to the public on Wednesdays. In the town of Kelso is KELSO ABBY, another ruined Border Abbey which has a Kerr grave site. Several miles to the west of Kelso are the foundation remains of ROXBURGH CASTLE which was the residence of King David I in the early years when the Scottish monarch also ruled Northumberland.

    To the north of Kelso is SMAIHOLM TOWER, which was Kerr property in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is one of the largest of peel towers, used for protection by the people, and can be seen from miles away. Some miles south of the Jedburgh - Kelso highway is CESSFORD CASTLE, the towering relic of the early days when a strong castle was the best means of defense. It stands majestically on a small ridge overlooking the Kale Water Valley. Nearby is the largest town in the immediate area, MOREBATTLE, and the smaller villages of TOWN YETHOLM and KIRK YETHOLM, near the Teviot Hills along the border with England. From these farming areas came the yeomen and their wives who were the ancestors of the American and Canadian Kerrs of today.

    South of Edinburgh, near Dalkeith, is NEWBATTLE ABBY, acquired by Kerrs during the Reformation in the 1560s. It is now being used as an adult education center, having been donated to the nation in the 1930s by Phillip Henry Kerr, the 11th Marquess of Lothian.

    Travelors to the Borders should check with tourist information centers on the days when the castles are open to the public. Information on hand, but dated, indicates that both Floors and Ferniehirst Castles are open on Wednesdays -- which is convenient -- but these arrangements may have changed in recent years

    It should be noted with justifiable pride, that all of the sights presented in this article have been featured in full detail in previous issues of THE BORDER LINE. Kerr Family Association Members who retain copies on file can refer to previous articles for complete information.

    To see all of these attractions, one would need three to four days of active sightseeing. Some good advice: find the time to see all of the Kerr sights. You will gain a better knowledge of the Kerr Family and its importance in the history of the Borders of Scotland. -- John T. Kerr

    Articles like this are published every quarter in The Border Line. All this and membership too in The Kerr Family Association of America, for a measly 15 bucks.Membership information can be found in that section of the homepage. -- Jim Carr

  • neil@strichen.demon.co.uk Following from an e-mail received from Neil Bruce
    Seriously, if you are coming to the Old Country then come my way. My wife and I own a bed and breakfast guest house and would be delighted to put you up at a most reasonable rate.
    Neil Bruce
    Member of the Aberdeen & North East Scotland Family History Society.

  • I sent you a message a while back asking if you knew how I could get a picture of Fernihurst Castle, as the one on the page didn't copy well. You gave me the name of a couple of people who might be able to help and I was given the address of Mrs. Betty McLeish, Administrator, Tower Office, Jedburgh, Scotland TD8 6UQ. I sent a request for a photo and a postage equivalent stamp (not sure what they're called) for return postage. Today I received not only two nice postcards of the castle, but a visitors guide book with some history of the castle and it's owners, and a family tree of the owners of Ferniehirst! I just wanted to let you know in case this comes up again. On the papers I got back is a fax for Mrs. McLeish (01835 864156), and office phone # : 01835 864023
    Sue DeHaan

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