Janet & Libby’s Ancestral Tour

Janet & Libby at Stanwix Churchyard

Janet & Libby at Stanwix Churchyard

First cousins Janet & Libby from Canada recently spent a three day ancestral tour with Borders Journeys. The first two days were spent researching their Amos ancestral heritage in Carlisle.

Janet & Libby’s first visit was to St. Michael’s Church at Stanwix. Most of the headstones in the churchyard have been cleared away to create a woodland garden. The ladies were delighted that the stone commemorating their three times great grandparents Joseph & Mary Amos along with several members of their family was one of the few still standing. The ladies were delighted when the vicar offered to show them inside the church – the church would be familiar to their ancestors as they worshipped here.

Following lunch we visited the ruins and gardens of Kirklinton Hall – the ladies great great aunt Anne Amos had been housekeeper at the hall during the 1860s and 1870s. The day finished by visiting the city library where the ladies consulted the historic map collection to locate where family homes had existed but now demolished.

Day two began with equal success for Janet & Libby’s by finding their family headstones in Carlisle Cemetery. The find yielded new ancestral information as well confirming family stories. Among the headstones found was one for Ann Amos who had been housekeeper at Kirklinton House. We next visited places associated with Janet & Libby’s ancestors and found where they lived and worked at Close Street, West Tower Street and Dixon Mill.

The remainder of the day was spent visiting Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery and Carlisle Castle. Unfortunately Carlisle Cathedral was closed due to graduation ceremonies.

Janet & Libby, Carlisle Castle, Carlisle Cathedral

Janet & Libby at Carlisle Cemetery, Carlisle Castle & Carlisle Cathedral

After spending two days researching in Carlisle, Janet & Libby turned their attention to their Scottish ancestral roots in Canonbie & Newcastleton. At Canonbie the ladies were delighted to find the headstone for their four times great grandparents Thomas Armstrong & Mary Wilson – we had already found their daughter’s headstone at Stanwix on day one of their tour in Carlisle.

En-route from Canonbie to Newcastleton we visited several places where the ladies’ ancestors had lived. Our arrival at Ettleton Churchyard heralded rain, however Janet & Libby’s determination to find their ancestors’ headstones was admirable. The ladies’ resilience paid-off as we found their two sets of 4 times great grandparents John Armstrong & Isabella Marshall and Peter Oliver & Elizabeth Murray. This was certainly to be Janet & Libby’s lucky day as the headstone next to Peter & Elizabeth’s was Peter’s parents, James Oliver & Jane Armstrong – the ladies were ecstatic.

We celebrated this morning’s finds with a coffee & empire biscuit in Newcastleton’s delightful Olive Tree Tea Room!

Janet & Libby at Canonbie, Ettleton & Grapes Hotel

Janet & Libby at Canonbie, Ettleton & Grapes Hotel

Janet & Libby’s Canadian great grandparents had visited relatives in Carlisle & Newcastleton during 1901; armed with a letter which they had sent home, the ladies wanted to follow their visit to Newcastleton. We visited places where the family had lived in 1901including the butcher’s shop where the ladies’ two times great grandfather was born. We had lunch in The Grapes Hotel where their great grandparents had lunched in 1901.

Following lunch we visited the Liddesdale Heritage Centre & Museum where the ladies learned more about the social history and culture of their ancestors. En-route to Edinburgh we visited the 14th century Hermitage Castle which was key to controlling the Scottish Middle March (Borderland between Scotland and England). The castle is a breathtaking eerie ruin, set in a lonely spot with a history filled with intrigue, murder, torture and treason. One local described the castle as “sod-off written in stone”!

Janet & Libby in Newcastleton and Hermitage Castle

Janet & Libby in Newcastleton and Hermitage Castle

It was a pleasure to meet Janet & Libby and be part of their ancestral journey.

More photographs of the Janet & Libby’s Ancestral Tour can be found on Borders Journeys’ Facebook.

On returning home Janet wrote me a lovely thank you note reflecting on her ancestral tour:

“Dear Ian, 

Libby and I arrived safely back in Toronto yesterday with wonderful memories of our trip to Scotland. 

I want to thank you for the three terrific days we spent with you as our guide. I can’t identify any one highlight of our three days, as the whole experience was a collective highlight. (Well – maybe finding the Amos gravemarker at St. Michael’s Church in Stanwix might qualify.) 

Simply being in the areas where our ancestors lived in the early 1800s was so satisfying and following the route that our great grandparents took in 1901 was so interesting to us. While I have my own photos and notes for our trip, I especially like being able to see your record of our trip on your Facebook page – another perspective for us that is fun to read.  

Now I will have to begin thinking about what I might consider doing next! 

With warm regards and, again, my sincere thanks. 


Where do you come from? What stories lie in your family history? Have you ever wondered? Maybe you’ve hit a dead end in your research or just don’t know where to start.

Simply tell me what you know so far and I will not only give you research advice but investigate your Scottish ancestry on your behalf. I will research your family history by connecting the dots to form a real picture of who and where you come from.

Do you want to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors?

I will design a tailor-made ancestral tour especially for you, taking you on a journey of discovery where you’ll connect with your Scottish ancestors by walking in their footsteps. Your ancestors will be brought to life when you learn about the people, places and traditions connected with them. By the end of the tour you will have gained a real insight into your ancestral heritage and where you came from, something you can share with present and future generations.

I recognise that for many of you this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity, my emphasis is upon making your time in Scotland an experience you’ll always remember.

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