…or The Kirk of Our Lady of the Steill

Flodden 1513 Memorial

The parish of Ladykirk lies along the northern bank of the River Tweed, which separates Scotland from England, and is about half-way between Coldstream and Berwick. Norham Castle – the stronghold for the north of England – stands just across the river, whilst Haildon Hill and Flodden Field (two of the battles between nations) are just seven miles away (1333 and 1513 respectively).

The Kirk of our Lady of the Steill (or, as it is now called, Ladykirk) originated during one of the many raids across the border, when, so the legend goes, King James IV of Scotland was nearly drowned crossing the ford which just below the church. He, it is claimed, vowed to build a church in memory of the Blessed Virgin of the Steill who had saved him. (A steill is a deep pool where salmon nets are placed.)His vow included the fact that the church should be one that could not be destroyed by either fire or flood (thus the very unusual stone roof), thinking, no doubt, of the many cross-border burning raids and the frequent floods of the Tweed valley.

When exactly this event took place we do not know, but it is known that James IV passed this way in 1496 and 1497. By 5th March 1500 the building had commenced and the work was entrusted to Sir Patrick Blackadder, and then in 1504 to George Ker. The stone used came from the Swinton Quarry (about 3 miles west), and the cost was about £1200 (£1 1/2 million in today’s prices). The king came often to see how the church was progressing – in 1501, twice in 1507 and before the ill-fated Flodden in 1513. He was present at a service in 1505 and gave 14/- as an offering. *

Ladykirk Church


*Information from Church leaflet.

6 Comments CherryPie on Feb 1st 2014

6 Responses to “Ladykirk Church”

  1. lisl says:

    What a fascinating history, Cherie – it is good that you search this sort of thing out for us all

  2. james higham says:

    Love those white doors.

  3. I miss the Border!
    There are lots of interesting ruins there.
    One of my favourites is Jedburgh Abbey. :)