Kirk Yetholm

Coordinates: 55°32′50″N 2°16′31″W / 55.5471°N 2.2754°W / 55.5471; -2.2754
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Kirk Yetholm
Kirk Yetholm from the Mindrum Road (September 2007)
Kirk Yetholm is located in Scottish Borders
Kirk Yetholm
Kirk Yetholm
Location within the Scottish Borders
Civil parish
  • Yetholm
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townKELSO
Postcode districtTD5
Dialling code01573
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°32′50″N 2°16′31″W / 55.5471°N 2.2754°W / 55.5471; -2.2754

Kirk Yetholm ('kirk yet-ham') is a village in the Scottish Borders region of Scotland, 8 miles (13 kilometres) southeast of Kelso and less than 1 mile (2 kilometres) west of the border. The first mention is of its church in the 13th century. Its sister town is Town Yetholm which lies 12 mile (800 metres) across the Bowmont Water. The population of the two villages was recorded as 591 in the 2001 census.[1]


Yetholm means either:

  • the goats' island from Old English gat 'goat' and Old Norse holmr (island, holme)
  • village with a gate - from Old English geat-ham ‘gate village’


Kirk Yetholm was the headquarters of the Romanichal travellers (gypsies) in Scotland, having settled in the village about 1750.[2][3] The last King of the Gypsies, Charles Faa Blyth Rutherford, aged 70, was crowned on 31 May 1898.[4] A second male, David Blyth, claimed he was the rightful heir, but did not attend the huge ceremony and festivities which was held between the two Yetholm villages.[5] The king died just four years later on 21 April 1902.[6][2] Today the gypsies have been integrated and are no longer a separate ethnic minority. A memorial stone can be found on the village green.[7]

Saint Cuthbert's Way and Pennine Way[edit]

The village is notable for being the northern terminus of the Pennine Way, and to a lesser extent the southern terminus of the Scottish National Trail. The Border Hotel public house is the official end of the Pennine Way.[8]

Saint Cuthbert's Way also passes through the village, going between Melrose, Scotland and Lindisfarne (Holy Island), Northumberland.

Youth hostel[edit]

In 1942 the village school building was converted into a Scottish Youth Hostels Association hostel. It now continues in use as an affiliate hostel named the Kirk Yetholm Friends of Nature House.[9] It provides accommodation for tourists, particularly walkers and cyclists, being located on Saint Cuthbert's Way, the Pennine Way, the Scottish National Trail, the Sustrans National Cycle Route 1 and Scottish Borders Loop.[10]


The first Saturday in October is traditionally the Yetholm Border Shepherds' Show, held on the land between Town Yetholm and Kirk Yetholm, with the 156th show held in 2019.[11][12] It stemmed from the old practice of farmers gathering to sort through stray sheep from neighbours' flocks.

A song referring to Kirk Yetholm called "Yetholm Day" was written and composed by Gary Cleghorn.

Scottish Border poet and Australian bush balladeer Will H. Ogilvie (1869–1963) wrote 'The gipsies' (c. 1910; and later put to music by British composer Graham Peel), having been raised 8 miles (13 km) away. Ogilvie also wrote a song for the 'Coronation of the Gipsy King at Yetholm' by July 1898 whilst in Australia.


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

The Kirk Yetholm Gypsies is available from the Hawick Archaeological Society website.[13]


  1. ^ Scotland's Census Result OnLine Archived 2012-03-22 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b "Gipsy families". The Telegraph (Brisbane). No. 11, 519. Queensland, Australia. 18 October 1909. p. 2. Retrieved 1 October 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "Queen Esther Faa Blyth". The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser. Vol. 5, no. 211. South Australia. 17 October 1884. p. 4. Retrieved 1 October 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ "Coronation of the Gipsy King". The Barrier Miner. Vol. 11, no. 3194. New South Wales, Australia. 22 July 1898. p. 1 (Second edition). Retrieved 1 October 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "Scotland's Gipsy King". Kalgoorlie Miner. Vol. III, no. 809. Western Australia. 9 July 1898. p. 3. Retrieved 1 October 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "The Gipsy King dead". The World's News. No. 27. New South Wales, Australia. 21 June 1902. p. 10. Retrieved 1 October 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ The Gypsy Memorial, Kirk Yetholm, Scotland
  8. ^ "The Border Hotel | Services on the Pennine Way | National Trails". Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  9. ^ "Kirk Yetholm Friends of Nature House | IHUK". Independent Hostels UK. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  10. ^ "Kirk Yetholm". SYHA Hostelling Scotland. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  11. ^ WALKER, Angela. "Border Shepherd's Show". Yetholm Online. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  12. ^ "Shepherd's delight: The story of the Yetholm Border Shepherds' Show". Scotland Magazine. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  13. ^ "Hawick Archaeological Society". Archived from the original on 3 September 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2010.

External links[edit]