Nancy returns to her ancestral roots in the Borders

Rosslyn Chapel Ettrick Kirk Melrose

Nancy Huntley from Canada is visiting Scotland with Genealogy Tours of Scotland to trace her Scottish ancestral roots. Borders Journeys organised a three day ancestral tour for Nancy to visit places associated with her ancestors along with heritage attractions.

Collecting Nancy in Edinburgh she first visited Rosslyn Chapel where she marvelled in its historical splendour along with its myths and legends. Heading into the Borders we visited the Ettrick Valley where her Scott and Blaikie ancestors lived until they emigrated to Canada in the 19th century.

At Ettrick Kirk there is a wonderful exhibition about parish’s history and the people who lived there; it’s well worth a visiting if you have ancestral connections with Ettrick or interested in Scottish social history. The exhibition provided Nancy with the history of the places where her ancestors lived along with an insight into their daily lives. Unfortunately we were unable to find ancestral headstones; however Nancy was delighted to have visited the church where her ancestors once worshipped.

Ettrick Kirkyard contains headstones for historical figures associated with the Borders – James Hogg ‘the Ettrick Shepherd, Thomas Boston, Tibbie Shiel and William Laidlaw ‘Will O’Phaup’ (James Hogg’s grandfather).

Leaving Ettrick Kirk we travelled along the valley to Selkirk then onto Melrose where Nancy’s Blaikie ancestors lived and worked. Following lunch Nancy enjoyed a visit to Melrose Abbey, unfortunately no headstones exist for her family in the abbey grounds.

Our final visit of the day was to the Langhaugh area of Galashiels where Nancy’s ancestors lived when it was rural agricultural land long before it was a modern housing development. We returned to Edinburgh via Lauder and Soutra.

Hadrian's Wall Birdoswald Fort Lanercost Priory Ashkirk

As well as visiting places associated with her ancestors, Nancy was interested in visiting historical attractions. The morning was spent visiting Hadrian’s Wall at Birdoswald Fort and nearby Lanercost Priory. We had a lovely lunch in the Tea Room at Lanercost.

Heading back to Edinburgh via Langholm and Hawick we visited Ashkirk Church. Nancy’s Hislop and Armstrong ancestors lived at Ashkirk before emigrating to Canada in the 19th century. Nancy’s research identified that her ancestors had been christened in the 18th century church. Although she had details of her ancestors’ burial in the churchyard, we were unable to locate the headstones. We did however locate the farm that Nancy’s ancestors had lived and worked.

Borders Family History Society Hawick Heritage Hub Johnstons of Elgin

Nancy’s final day with us was spent researching her Borders ancestral roots at the Borders Family History Society in Galashiels and Hawick Heritage Hub. We were also joined in Galashiels by Laurie and Sylvia who were also part of the Genealogy Tours of Scotland. Nancy had a great deal of success with her research and thoroughly enjoyed her day in Galashiels and Hawick. During a break from research we visited Johnstons of Elgin in Hawick and had lunch there.

A very special thank you goes to Mary Thomson at the Borders Family History Society for her help and advice plus agreeing to open the research centre on a day that it is was normally closed. Also thank you to Zilla at Hawick Heritage Hub for her help and advice.

More photographs can be found on Borders Journeys’ Facebook.

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