Saturday, September 08, 2007

Folk from the Borders

1-4: Stichill; 8-9: Coldingham Priory

Last year, I tracked my ancestor John Wood's birthplace to Stichill in Roxburghshire, his wife Jane Henderson to Edrom. Their parents came from Nenthorn, Edrom, Eccles and Coldingham; all at large in these Scottish border towns through the 17th century.

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If Google's new map embedding is working properly above, you can see that these towns are only about an hour's drive from Edinburgh, so touring through most of them makes for an easy day's outing. Nenthorn is a hamlet right next to the hamlet of Stichill, and then I had a half hour of little country roads to negotiate through to Edrom, just outside of Duns.

Edrom is literally Blackadder territory, the name taken from Ederhom: home by the river Adder. The original church had a Romanesque door dating from the 12th century, now attached to a separate vault, and some of the medieval remains "The Blackadder Aisle" may still be seen in another private vault.
Stichill; The Old Smiddy, St Abbs

Colania in Roman Britain was known to the locals as Colaun, with -ham being affixed to it by the Saxons, giving us present day Coldingham. Through that time the village has been visited (or beset by) Danish raiders, Oliver Cromwell and Mary Queen of Scots.

The beach, Coldingham Sands, is a lovely spot. It seemed like every other beachgoer had their dog with them, splashing away in the sand. Unfortunately, the adjacent pub and cafe (same owner) are not dog-friendly, so this cuts down on handy eating options at lunch time.

Coldingham Sands

We continued on a little way to St Abbs, named after the patron saint of crunches. Just before reaching the harbour we stopped for lunch at the Old Smiddy, a roadside cafe with tables scattered across a nice grassy expanse, with adjacent art outlet, and Woolfish, a yarn/textile shop. The latter's friendly proprietor was knitting up some wire bracelets while we chatted. Some old ladies happened by and I told them she was darning socks with a welding torch, to which one said "then you're the perfect people to address a silly question..." ( about the beans grown in the local fields ).

I learnt that some minke whales were just offshore by St Abbs Head. There is a 'Voluntary Marine Reserve' here, and when I got down to the harbour, could see quite a number of scuba divers taking advantage of the local fish and corals.

View from the Old Smiddy, St Abbs

St Abbs Harbour

A very lovely day out, and I would definitely like to revisit the Coldingham/St Abbs/Eyemouth area, especially if the mild to warm weather persists. It's almost like Sydney in September here now. Still even with all this, feeling rather out of sorts this week. Definitely not very social. I don't know whether that's fallout from the festival, or longer term fatigue from the travel. I'm also conscious that my mind is moving ahead to our return to Sydney in 3 months.

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