Skirling House - Heritage


New Lanark World Heritage Village is recognised by UNESCO as a site of international significance, one of only five in Scotland. When the new factory system for textile production was brought to New Lanark in the late 18th century, the need to provide housing and other facilities to the workers and managers was recognised. Robert Owen created a new model for industrial communities. He built well-designed and well-equipped workers' housing, together with public buildings designed to address both the spiritual and the physical needs of the workers. This development expressed his social philosophy in matters such as progressive education, factory reform, humane working practices, international cooperation, and garden cities, and was to have a profound influence on social developments throughout the 19th century and beyond.
Today, New Lanark offers visitors the opportunity to experience industrial life in the early 19th century. It has a state-of-the-art visitor centre and a full range of educational facilities, which provide exciting insights into life during the Industrial Revolution. It is, quite simply, unique.

Only nine miles from the M74, The Museum of Lead Mining is a four-star visitor attraction in Wanlockhead, at 1531 feet the highest village in Scotland. Visitors can enter an 18th century lead mine, see the only remaining water bucket mine pump engine in the UK and visit two lovingly-restored miners’ cottages. The Wanlockhead miners were noted for their interest in education and literature, and in 1756 they established their own subscription library, only the second in Europe at the time. The library was moved to its own building in 1851, and still stands today as a witness to the miners’ appetite for learning.
While the lead workings have ceased commercial operation, the area is still rich in minerals. The area was noted in the 16th century for its gold, and, each summer, the Museum runs training courses in the ancient skill of panning for gold. While it’s unlikely that anyone would ever get rich this way, it’s a fascinating way for both adults and children to learn about geology and mining.

The Scottish Mining Museum
is the national museum of one of the great industries of Scotland. Situated at Newtongrange near Edinburgh, the museum is based at the Lady Victoria Colliery, one of the finest surviving examples of a Victorian colliery in Europe. It offers a comprehensive guide to the history of the industry and of the people and communities that worked in it. The museum includes a re-creation of an underground roadway and coalface, and some spectacular mining machinery. There are two audiovisual shows to help explain how the colliery operated, and children are made particularly welcome.

Historical Houses & Castles

Skirling House is close to several fine historical houses in the Borders, each with its own character and history. Traquair House dates back to at least 1107 and was originally a defensive tower. It was remodeled over the centuries to become the family home of the Lairds (and Earls) of Traquair. Its exterior has remained unchanged since 1695, while its elegant interior dates back to the 18th century. The house has seen turbulent times, John Stuart, the fourth Laird, was Captain of the Guard to Mary, Queen of Scots. The cradle in which Mary rocked the future King James VI and 1st can still be seen at the house. The Stuarts of Traquair were Catholics, and supported the Jacobite risings of both 1715 and 1745, after which the ornamental Bear Gates at the entrance to the estate were shut. They will never be re-opened until a Stuart king is crowned at Westminster.
The house has some remarkable features, including a mural depicting hunting scenes from the 16th century and a priest’s hiding hole from the post-Reformation period. There is a fascinating museum, a garden maze, and the Traquair brewery, noted for its delicious beers, the sampling of which is strongly recommended.

The great novelist Sir Walter Scott, the man who brought Scottish history to life for generations and whose work still informs how Scotland is seen throughout the world, designed Abbotsford House near Melrose. It’s an intensely romantic house on the banks of the River Tweed and set in a landscape Scott himself designed. There is a library of 9,000 volumes, and lots of ancient Scottish armour (including Rob Roy’s gun, dirk and sword). Visitors can get a real sense of the man himself, his tastes and interests. The house also has attractive formal gardens, and there’s an excellent modern tearoom.

Drumlanrig House just south of the M74, home of the Duke of Buccleuch, is a magnificent stately home set in a 90,000-acre estate. The house was built in the late 17th century in distinctive pink sandstone, and contains a wonderful collection of paintings, including a Rembrandt. The house is set in fine formal gardens (with a truly spectacular Victorian glass house), and beyond that the country estate has paths for walking, cycling and mountain biking. The Stableyard Studio and Tea Room offers traditional Scottish food with a modern twist, together with a fine selection of souvenirs.   Close by is the small town of Thornhill, known for its selection of interesting shops.

Floors Castle is the home of the Duke of Roxburghe. It is a magnificent house largely designed by two of Scotland’s greatest architects, Robert Adam in the 18th century and William Playfair in the 19th century. Its public rooms are of the highest quality, and include the Drawing Room with its 17th century Brussels tapestries, the Dining Room with its display of silver gilt by some of Britain’s greatest silversmiths, the Gallery with its collection of porcelain and the Robe Room, which displays the family’s Coronation robes.  There is also a chance to explore the lovely castle gardens.

Dumfries House, is a beautiful stately home with sumptuous interiors and magnificent furnishings, all set in two thousand acres of land. Built between 1754 and 1759 for the 5th Earl of Dumfries, and with a unique collection of Chippendale furniture, the house has been described as an 18th century time-capsule since the principal rooms and their contents have remained virtually unchanged for 250 years. In June 2007, HRH The Prince of Wales, under his title as the Great Steward of Scotland, headed a consortium of charities and heritage bodies to purchase this unique house, its contents and adjoining land, in order to keep this historical jewel intact and accessible to the public.

Bowhill House and Country Estate is on the A708 Moffat/St Mary’s Loch road about 3 miles west of Selkirk. Bowhill sits at the heart of an energetic country estate amidst the magical scenery of the Yarrow and Ettrick valleys.
Much of the best of all that is Bowhill comes together in the Courtyard. Refresh yourself with home baking in the licensed Minstrel Tearoom, visit the historic Victorian kitchen, browse the gift shop with its local crafts and other mementos and discover more about one of the valley’s most remarkable sons, James Hogg the Ettrick Shepherd in a special exhibition.
The country estate boasts dedicated way marked paths and trails for wildlife enthusiasts and walkers while field sports and fishing have long been synonymous with Bowhill.  The woodland adventure playground and a full programme of events throughout the year are just some of the activities on offer.


Rosslyn Chapel just south of Edinburgh is an internationally famous church founded by Sir William St Clair in 1446. Its carvings are the best to have survived the Reformation in Scotland, remarkable for the intricacy of their detail and craftsmanship, and comparable with carvings anywhere in England. Every surface is decorated with illustrations drawn from history, mediaeval bestiaries, Masonic symbols, and pre-Christian folklore. It has recently been subject to a major project of conservation, and the carvings can now be seen by visitors in greater detail than ever before. Having recently featured in the Hollywood movie ‘The Da Vinci Code’, it nowadays attracts large numbers of visitors.

On the road to Peebles is Stobo Kirk, one of the oldest churches in Scotland, dating from the 12th century.   It stands on the site of an even older church reputedly founded by St Kentigern (St Mungo) in the 6th century; legend has it that St Kentigern baptized the pagan Merlin on the altar stone at Stobo.

There are some attractive rural churches in the area accessible under Scotland’s Churches Scheme whose website is
For example Holy Trinity Chapel, Lamington is from a very different part of Scotland’s religious tradition from that of the Covenanters House in Biggar.  The Chapel, built in 1857, was the private place of worship of the Baillie Cochrane family, and features some remarkable decoration and stained glass.

Edinburgh with its World Heritage Status New Town and Glasgow with its Burrell Collection (a contemporary of Lord Carmichael) and Charles Rennie Mackintosh contributions are but an hours drive away.