Monday 24 August 2020


Town Square
Kelso is an attractive market town situated on the banks of the River Tweed. In addition to its picturesque market square Kelso is also home to the impressive ruinous Kelso Abbey and is close to both the historic Floors Castle and Dryburgh Abbey. Sitting peacefully beside the River Tweed adds to the towns quaint charm.

On the banks of the River Tweed about 15 - 20 minutes walk from the town centre is the magnificent Floors Castle.  Home to the 10th Duke of Roxburghe Floors Castle is the largest inhabited house in Scotland and was once visited by Queen Victoria. Set in the Roxburghe Estate and surrounded by beautiful woodland the castle is a wonderful place to visit. 

Kelso Racecourse is situated on the eastern edge of the town and the historic border town of Melrose is only 14 miles away. Sir Walter Scott, who attended Kelso Grammar School in 1783 felt that the town was the most beautiful and romantic in Scotland.

It is thought that the earliest settlement  at Kelso stood on a chalky outcrop and was known as Calkou. Before Kelso Abbey was complete in 1128 a small hamlet existed . Kelso and its sister hamlet of Water Kelso were connected to the royal burgh of Roxburgh on the opposite bank of the River Tweed by a ferry.  With the completion of the abbey and the arrival of the monks the village grew and  started to flourish. 

The Border Wars brought devastation to the area and on the opposite banks of the river Roxburgh was much fought over. Eventually its castle was destroyed and the town abandoned. However, although Kelso also suffered during these turbulent times, and in 1545 during the “Rough Wooing” much of the abbey was destroyed, the town survived and continued to thrive. 

Kelso was originally controlled by the abbey but after the reformation and subsequent decline  of the power and wealth of the abbey the barony and many of the abbey’s properties were taken over by the Kerr family. By the mid 18th century the town was flourishing, serving the local rural community. The town became known for its production of leather shoes, fishing and horse racing and In 1754 the ferry service was replaced by a bridge. 

In the 18th and 19th centuries much of the town was rebuilt, including the old bridge that was destroyed during a storm.  Many grand homes and large country houses were built, including the magnificent Floors castle.

River Tweed

Riverside Walk

Floors Castle

Kelso Racecourse

Kelso Abbey
Kelso Abbey was founded in the early part of the 12th century by Tironensian monks at the invitation of King David I. The first 200 years were a turbulent time for the abbey and the monks. Although from about 1460 life became more settled by the early 16th century the abbey was again under attack and by 1587 it was declared derelict. The abbey slowly fell into ruins and all that remains today are the west tower and part of the infirmary.

The West Tower, Kelso Abbey

River Tweed
Kelso sits quietly on the banks of the River Tweed, at a junction with the Teviot River. The river is spanned by Kelso Bridge, built at the beginning of the 19h century and flows gently past from Floors Castle on its way to Coldstream. there are many walks along the banks of the Tweed and if you are lucky you may see salmon leaping.

River Tweed

Other Places Nearby
  Jedburgh Abbey
   Smailholm Tower
      Melrose Abbey

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