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Siorrachd Rosbroig
Roxburghshire - Scotland.svg
County townJedburgh
 • Total666 sq mi (1,725 km2)
 Ranked 12th of 34
Chapman code

Roxburghshire or the County of Roxburgh (Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Rosbroig) is a historic county and registration county in the Southern Uplands of Scotland. It borders Dumfriesshire to the west, Selkirkshire and Midlothian to the north-west, and Berwickshire to the north. To the south-west it borders Cumberland and to the south-east Northumberland, both in England.

It was named after the Royal Burgh of Roxburgh, a town which declined markedly in the 15th century and is no longer in existence. Latterly, the county town of Roxburghshire was Jedburgh.

The county has much the same area as Teviotdale, the basin drained by the River Teviot and tributaries, together with the adjacent stretch of the Tweed into which it flows. The term is often treated as synonymous with Roxburghshire, but may omit Liddesdale as Liddel Water drains to the west coast.[1]


Jeffrey's Roxburghshire

The county appears to have originated in the 12th century with the creation of the sheriffdom of Roxburgh. The first known sheriff is Gospatric (sheriff of Roxburgh). The hereditary sheriffship of Roxburghshire was possessed by the family of Douglas until the abolition of heritable jurisdictions in the 18th century.[2]

The county was constantly fought over in the Middle Ages as part of the Anglo-Scottish Wars, before the border settled into roughly its modern form with the Treaty of York in 1237.[3] The violence and lawlessness of these times gave rise to the Border Reivers.

The ancient royal burgh of Roxburgh, from which the county had taken its name, fell into decay by the fifteenth century. After the demise of the town of Roxburgh, the county administration was based in Jedburgh, the county town. County Buildings were erected near the market place in 1812, in which the different courts met and the county officials transacted their business.[4]

In 1855 Alexander Jeffrey published his book "The history and antiquities of Roxburghshire and adjacent districts, from the most remote period to the present time." It ran to four volumes.[5]


Rubers Law in central Roxburghshire
Roxburghshire sign at the border with England at Carter Bar, 1960

Roxburghshire is a predominantly rural county, consisting of low hills rising to the Cheviot Hills along the border with England. Just to the south of Melrose can be found Eildon Hill, a prominent local landmark. There are a few scattered lochs, though none of any significant size.


Other than terminus of the recently re-opened Borders Railway, of which two stations (Galashiels and Tweedbank) lie within the county, there are no railways in Roxburghshire. There were formerly a number of lines serving the county, however these closed as a result of the Beeching cuts.


The county has a population of 48,639 (in 2011),[6] which is 43% of the population of the Scottish Borders area.[7]

Today, the main towns in the county are (population in 2011):

Hawick is now by far the largest town, with 29% of the county's population. More than half the population live in the two parishes of Hawick and Melrose.[6]


Today, Roxburghshire is within the Scottish Borders council area for local government purposes and contains the administrative centre of the area, the small town of Newtown St Boswells. It retains official status as a registration county, and falls within the Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale lieutenancy area for ceremonial purposes.


County Offices, Newtown St Boswells, the former headquarters of Roxburgh County Council
Burghs in Roxburghshire, 1975

Until 1975, Roxburghshire was used for local government in Scotland, governed by a county council from 1890.

After the 1894 County Council, meetings were held at Newtown St Boswells, Kelso and Jedburgh until 1908 when Newtown St. Boswells became the headquarters for Roxburgh County Council. Roxburgh County Offices were built there around 1930.[8] New buildings by Peter Womersley were opened in 1968 and after local government re-organisation (Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973) they became the headquarters of Borders Regions in 1975.[8] The Duke of Buccleuch and the Duke of Roxburghe between them held the convenorship of Roxburgh County Council for 43 years between 1900 and 1975.[9]

At the time of the county council's abolition it comprised four burghs and four districts:


Roxburgh District 1975–1996

The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 abolished the county council and incorporated its area into the Borders Region. Borders was divided into four districts, one of which was named Roxburgh. Roxburgh District's borders broadly resembled those of the traditional county, without most of the Melrose area (which was included in the new Ettrick and Lauderdale District), plus the parish of Nenthorn from Berwickshire. The region and four district councils were abolished in 1996, merging to form the present Scottish Borders council area. (See also: Subdivisions of Scotland.)

Coat of arms[edit]

The County of Roxburgh was the first Scottish county to receive a grant of arms. This was made by Lord Lyon King of Arms on 9 July 1798. The coat of arms seems to have been granted for the use of the volunteer and militia units then being organised under the authority of the county's lord lieutenant. When the county council was formed in 1890, the arms passed to them.

The shield depicted a unicorn, a national symbol of Scotland. At the top of the shield was a hunting horn between two helmets: probably a reference to the border reivers, one of whom featured in the arms of the royal burgh of Jedburgh. The crest above the shield was an armoured arm brandishing a scimitar. The Latin motto was Ne Cede Malis Sed Contra Audentior Ito or Yield not to misfortunes (evil things) but go on more boldly against them., it was a quotation from Virgil's Aeneid 6, 95.[10]

On 6 May 1975 the coat of arms was regranted to Roxburgh District Council, without the crest.[11] When the district council was abolished in 1996, the arms reverted to The Crown.

Civil parishes[edit]

civil parishes of Roxburghshire c 1930

Following the boundary changes carried out under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889, the county of Roxburgh contained 30 civil parishes:

Defunct parishes and amalgamations[edit]

In medieval times there were 47 parishes, making the area the most densely parished in Scotland.

  • Abbotrule: divided between Bedrule and Southdean in 1806.[12]
  • Ettleton and Wheelkirk: absorbed into Castleton[13]
  • Hassendean: divided between Minto, Roberton and Wilton, 17th century.[14]
  • Jedworth, Old Jedworth and Upper Crailing: united to form the parish of Jedburgh.[15]
  • Kirkton or Cavers Parva: absorbed into Cavers in 1895.[16]
  • Lempitlaw: absorbed into Sprouston at the Reformation.[17]
  • Longnewtown: absorbed into Ancrum in 1684.[18]
  • Maxwell, Roxburgh Holy Sepulchre and Roxburgh St James: absorbed into Kelso (aka Kelso St Mary's), date unknown.[19][20]
  • Mow: absorbed into Morebattle in 1672.[21]
  • Nisbet and Spital: absorbed into Crailing 1606.[22]
  • Rutherford: absorbed into Maxton.[23]
  • Wilton: absorbed into Hawick post-1900.[24]


Bonchester Bridge

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, by, Francis Groome, publ. 2nd edition 1896. Article on Roxburghshire
  2. ^ New Statistical Account of Scotland, Vol III Roxburgh, Peebles, Selkirk, publ.William Blackwood, 1845, p.430
  3. ^ "Treaty of York – 1237". BBC. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  4. ^ Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 2nd edition, published 1896. Article on Jedburgh
  5. ^ "archive search". Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  6. ^ a b Census of Scotland 2011, Table KS101SC – Usual Resident Population, published by National Records of Scotland. Area type: Civil Parish 1930; calculated total for all Roxburghshire parishes
  7. ^ Census of Scotland 2011, Table KS101SC – Usual Resident Population, published by National Records of Scotland. Area type: Council Area
  8. ^ a b "Scottish Borders Council Headquarters". Newtown St Boswells & Eildon News. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  9. ^ Blossom: What Scotland Needs to Flourish, by Lesley Riddoch, chapter 7, pub. 2013
  10. ^ R. M. Urquhart, Scottish Burgh and County Heraldry, London, 1973
  11. ^ R. M. Urquhart, Scottish Civic Heraldry, London, 1979
  12. ^ "Southdean and Abbotsrule". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  13. ^ "List of amalgamations" (PDF). Scottish Place-Name Society.
  14. ^ GENUKI. "Genuki: Hassendean, Roxburghshire". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  15. ^ "Parish of Jedburgh from The Gazetteer for Scotland". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  16. ^ Edinburgh Gazette (official journal of the government), 5/3/1895 p. 295; and 18/12/1894 pp. 1449-1450
  17. ^ "Parish of Sprouston from The Gazetteer for Scotland". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  18. ^ GENUKI. "Genuki: Ancrum, Roxburghshire". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  19. ^ "Saints in Scottish Place-Names - Old Roxburgh, former parish, Roxburgh". Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Parish of Kelso from The Gazetteer for Scotland". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  21. ^ "Mow Tower | Canmore". Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  22. ^ "Parish Profile". Ale and Teviot United Church. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  23. ^ GENUKI. "Genuki: Maxton, Roxburghshire". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  24. ^ "History of Wilton, in Scottish Borders and Roxburghshire | Map and description". Archived from the original on 1 October 2014.
  25. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.
  26. ^ "Teviotdale" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 26 (11th ed.). 1911. p. 686.
  •, A Vision of Britain Through Time: Descriptive gazetteer entries for Roxburghshire

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°30′N 2°30′W / 55.500°N 2.500°W / 55.500; -2.500