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St. Boswells Scotland

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Information on the village of St. Boswells in Scotland.

Old St Boswells

The Earliest Times
It is very difficult to find any records of the earliest inhabitants of this parish. Arrow heads, scrapers, hammer heads, sinkers etc have been found in a field on the north bank of the Tweed to the west of Dryburgh Bridge in such numbers as to tell of a fairly large settlement. Similar finds on the south bank of the river opposite Mertoun Mill tell of a settlement there. But these tools were of flint, and as there is none locally it looks as though these were only temporary encampments.

Of all the Bronze Age finds listed in the Ancient Monuments of Roxburghshire none came from our parish. Nor are there remains from the Iron Age and even the Romans, who most certainly passed close to the village, left no trace except Dere Street.

Dere Street which came from York, passed west of the Green. It disappears almost as soon as it enters St Boswells parish though it would appear that it would be on the line of the modern road as far as Laret Burn. Presumably it would continue by the most direct route, across the West Burn passing near Whitehill and across the Sprouston Burn.

Tweed Valley in earliest times and for long after the Romans left was a land of moor, bog and forest. Wild animals such as boar and wolf roamed around and in the river were beavers. Wild cattle and horses, deer, both roe and red, were to found on whatever pasture there was. Salmon were plentiful in the rivers and the small lochs and marshy ground were the homes of flocks of wildfowl. Small wonder that finds, such as there are, were on high ground.

By the 5th century, however, this uninviting area was occupied by the Angles, who came north, conquering the tribes from the Humber to the Forth. They, like the tribes they had conquered, were a wild barbarous, uncouth horde. Oswald, ruler of Northumbria - of which this area was a part - fled before them, and took refuge further west in Scotland. There he came under the influence of the monks of Iona, and became Christian.

He returned to Northumbria in 635. before leaving the west, he had persuaded several of the monks of the monastery to come and help his people. Soon a band of brethren, led by Aidan, proceeded to Bamborough (Bamburgh) and chose to stay on the island now known as Holy Island. They built the Priory of Lindisfarne and remained there for many years. Among their many duties was the upbringing and education of Angle youths. Aidan selected twelve of these youths to be trained with a view to forming a church. The money, and land for such a venture was provided by Oswald.

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