A proud town

Selkirk sits above the surrounding river valleys – in the past an ideal location to defend, now it offers wonderful views. The name Selkirk is probably of Anglo-Saxon origin but may stretch as far back as Roman times. A royal castle was located on Peel Hill in the 12th century and then grew eastwards towards the Auld Kirk. You can travel back in time to learn about our literary stars, our proud traditions of weaving or our romantic customs of Common Ridings.

Selkirk Common Riding

Over 400 riders take part in the Selkirk Common Riding, which is recognised as one of the oldest of the Border festivals and can be traced back to 1113, when David I gave Selkirk land to build an Abbey.

In 1513, at the Battle of Flodden, Selkirk sent 80 men with the Scottish King but only one returned to his home town, bearing a blood-stained English flag. Unable to speak the terrible news of the defeat, he raised the flag high above his head before sweeping it low, like a scythe, to show that all were slain. This poignant act is remembered every year at the Selkirk Common Riding in the final ceremony of the Casting of the Colours.

Textile Production

Selkirk is perhaps best known for textiles production, with the first woollen mill, producing yarn established in the 18th century. Dramatic expansion of the industry followed along the valley of the Ettrick Water in the 1800s and by 1869 there were seven mills employing a total of over 1,000 people. The fine stone mill buildings along the river act as a reminder of the industry that once sustained the town.

To this day the production of tartan and textiles proudly continues in the town and visitors can now visit some of the mills such as Lochcarron of Scotland and Andrew Elliot Ltd.  Find out more about the mill tours and marvel at the skill and traditions of our local craftsmen and women.

William Wallace

It is believed that the Auld Kirk in Selkirk is the spot where William Wallace, the Scottish patriot, was proclaimed ‘Guardian of Scotland’ in 1298 after his defeat of the English during the Scottish Wars of Independence at Stirling Bridge in 1297.

Bitesize Facts


A souter is Scots for a shoemaker, and a term affectionately given to the natives of the town.

Textile Mills

By 1869 there were seven mills in Selkirk employing a total of over 1,000 people.

Auld Kirk

The ancestors of US President Franklin D Roosevelt lie here. Find out more about your ancestors at the Heritage Hub.

Related Events

If you are a local then you will know that Selkirk Common Riding falls on the second Friday after the first Monday in June. Alternatively take a look at our Events page!