Denholm Village

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Sir James A H Murray, 1837-1915, Lexicographer and editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.











Being of such ancient origins Denholm Village has a wealth of interesting history. Here we have just a small taster of what village life was like all those years ago..

The Inauguration of the Leyden Monument (A pamphlet to download) Click here..

Most of the information on this website is taken from 'A History of the Village' by Margaret Sellar, printed in 1989. Unfortunately the book is now out of print.

Here is a summary of how it all started.....

Ancient Britons and Romans

The earliest inhabitants of Denholm were prehistoric settlers, late stone or bronze age, some 2000-3000 years ago. Last century (19th) skeletons were found near to where the present school is, these people would have lived by hunting, fishing and gathering. Later during Roman occupation of the 1st and 2nd centuries, the native Britons lived in fortified dwellings on higher ground and remains of Iron age forts can still be seen today near to Denholm but there is no evidence of Roman occupation in Denholm itself.

The Anglo Saxon Settlement

By the end of the 4th century the Romans had seen enough and were off. The Angles and Saxons were invading from the south and it was from this era that we got our name Denholm:- "holm" (flat river meadow) by the "den" "dene" or "dean" (narrow wooded valley) thus the settlement was at the point where the narrow glen of the Dean Burn met the flat meadows of the Teviot valley.

Earliest Record of Denholm

The earliest surviving record of the village is found in the ragmans rolls signed by a certain Guy of Denum at Berwick in 1296. In this document many Scottish lords swore fealty (faithful adherence) to Edward 1st of England after his campaign north of the Border.

16th Century Border Raids

The village suffered its share of feuds and raids which devastated the Borders before the union of the crowns in 1603. In 1524 lord Dacre boasted that he had harried the whole of the Border lands and left not a single habitable place. In 1533-35 Denholm and Cavers were burnt by Lord Dacre and Sir Kerstial Dacre.

The Feuing of the Village in the 17th Century

In 1664 Sir Archibald Douglas feud 8 3/4 acres of land for houses and gardens. That is to say he granted a perpetual lease at a fixed rent. This land lay in plots around the green. More was feud in the 18th century down the Canongate. Denholm is now a Conservation Area listed as "a planned village" as opposed to the traditional unplanned or organic form of village usually found in Roxburghshire.

Some interesting, historical, quick facts about Denholm..

Denholm had its own nine hole golf course opened in 1907 (up the Loaning). It did not survive the 1st World War.

The railings on Main Street were requisitioned during the 2nd World War and during the 1950's and 60's the walls around the Green were gradually lowered and the flat coping stones laid on the round as a boundary.

A man was killed on the spikes of the iron railings opposite the Cross Keys whilst participating in the  Denholm Ba'.

In 1959 the villagers were alarmed by a Council proposal to build a road right across the Green from east to west so that through traffic could avoid the bad corners at both ends of the Main Street. The plan, however, came to nothing and the Green was left intact.

In the middle of the 19th century there were five public houses in the village.

In 1802 the 'Auld Schule' was built on the Green where the monument is today. It remained there for 56 years.

In the 18th century it was quite common to cross the river on stilts (there was no bridge) and most households had at least one pair.

In the summer of 1849 there was an outbreak of cholera in the village. There was a total of 59 cases of which 29 were fatal.

There used to be a chip shop next to The Auld Bakery.

In the late 19th century the local fire brigade were based in the Wynd and they would give the Leyden Monument an annual wash.

In November 1898 an article entitled 'Denholm as a Holiday Resort' appeared in the "Border Magazine".

They used to call it 'Dirty Denholm'. The green was cluttered with middens, pigstys, henhouses, heaps of firewood, turfstacks, sawpits, large puddles and muddy holes beloved by the geese!



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