My Home Town "Peebles"

General Information:

Origin of the name "Peebles":
The name "Peebles" probably originates from the ancient Cumbric (an early form of Welsh) word "Pebyl", meaning "A place where tents are pitched".

The GAELIC name for Peebles is "Na Publian"

Peebles is a small Borders town, in the Scottish Borders, situated approximately 23 miles south of Edinburgh and about 56 miles from Glasgow, and straddles the River Tweed, surrounded by hills, farms and forests. This quiet south eastern corner of Scotland, clean air and bright sunshine encourages visitors throughout the year. Peebles is located on the spur of land that lies between the the River Tweed and Eddlston Water, with the River Tweed flowing east towards Berwick and the sea, and the Eddleston Water flowing from the north, whose valley has long been an important communications route between Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders. Peebles, whose heart lies in its main shopping area, formed by High Street and Eastgate. This area was largely built in the second half of the 1500s.

Today, Peebles is the third largest town in the Borders and occupies both banks of the River Tweed. The road network enables people to travel easily to Edinburgh, Glasgow or elsewhere in the Borders. Through all the changes of recent years Peebles still retains its historic layout, and during the summer months you can have guided tour of the town. There are plenty of places that do bed & breakfast as well as the hotels, both large and small. There is also two camping & caravan sites for those who prefer the outdoor type of holiday. Golf, fishing (trout & salmon), mountain biking and walking are popular pursuits. Over recent years an Osprey watch has been set up at GlenTress . In the summer the Peebles events calendar includes the Beltane Week, Agricultural Show, Arts Festival and the Highland Games along with other local events.

Set behind the southside of the High Street are the broad grassy and tree-line banks of the River Tweed. This is crossed by Tweed Bridge close to the Old Parish Church, (the first stone bridge across the Tweed and originally built in 1426). It was altered in 1799 and widened from 8ft to 21ft in 1834 and then to 40ft in 1900. There is a stone inscription on the parapet commemorating the 1834 widening "by subscription". Below Eastgate the River Tweed is crossed by the Priorsford Bridge, an iron suspension pedestrian bridge built in 1905 to replace an earlier one from 1817.To the west, and situated in Hay Lodge Park, there is another foot bridge which has recently had access for wheelchairs to cross over added to it. This bridge (Fotheringham Bridge) was donated to the town by ********* in *****

Brief History:
Settlement in the area dates back thousands of years, as shown by the hill forts in the area and by the remains of a nearby Roman road. Some time after the Romans' brief stay this section of the Tweed Valley was part of the Kingdom of Strathclyde, only finally becoming part of Scotland under Malcolm II in 1016.
Peebles' strategic position was reflected by the building of a castle here in the 1100s, certainly before David I made Peebles a Royal Burgh in 1152. This was located on Castle Hill, at the west end of the High Street, (where the Old Parish Church stands today). It protected the wooden bridge that spanned the River Tweed and was occupied by the English in the wars of the early 1300s. Accounts differ about the eventual fate of Peebles Castle. It may have been destroyed when the English burned the town in 1403 or when they did so for a second time in 1548, or part may still have been standing and reused for its stone when the predecessor of today's Parish Church was built on the site in 1784. More enduring was Neidpath Castle, overlooking the Tweed a mile to the west of Peebles. With origins in 1370, much of today's structure dates back to the 1500s and 1600s. In 1810 the castle was brought by the Earl of Wemyss, whose family still occupy it. Another place of interest is the old "Cross Kirk" where a Trinitarian monastry once stood, and the ruins of can still be seen. The ceremony at the start of the annual Beltane festival is held there.

The historic core of Peebles - the "Old Town" - lies to the west of the junction of the River Tweed and Eddleston Water.

By the reign of King David (1124-1153) Peebles was already a Royal Burgh.

King William I (1165-1214) confirmed that the two chief courts of justice were to be held annually either in Edinburgh or Peebles.

During the wars of Independence, King Edward I of England visited Peebles in 1301 and 1306. Edward appointed his man (William de Dureme) sheriff in place of Sir Simon Fraser of Neidpath, who had joined with William Wallace in his attempt to free Scotland.

In the 15th and 16th centuries many visits were made to the town by the monarchy, King James III in particular was a frequent visitor. Peebles was relatively untouched by the conflicts (both internal and external) that characterised life in the Borders at that time. There were however, three major events in the 16th century.

  • In late 1549, Peebles was almost completely razed by the English.
  • In April 1585, the population of the Borders was directed by the King James VI to meet at Peebles in May, in an attempt to halt the "crimes committed on the borders" the "reining" or cross border raids.
  • From 1650-1651, the Cromwell's Army occupied the town and laid siege to "Neidpath Castle", which held out against his army for longer than any other castle south of the River Forth.
The 19th century was a time of progress. From a poor start, when the town was described in 1801 as being "stagnant and almost lifeless", due in no small way to the privations of the previous century. The arrival of the Railway in 1855 brought an increase in trade and the growth of industry brought a degree of prosperity and expansion.

In 20th century, the increased ownership of the motor car after Second World War, led to an improved road network. All railways in the "Scottish Borders" were closed in the early 1960's under the "Beeching" cuts.

Peebles Hotel Hydro
A few years ago I found the following document whilst browsing though some old papers that someone had thrown out for the rubbish. I have no idea as to the age of the document. I have cleaned up the original document, but have left it virtually intact. The quality of the photographs are not too good due to the fact that they are scans of scans of scans - but they are viewable My thanks goes to the original authoress (Heather Thom) for all the work she put into making up the original document and hope that she will forgive my publication of it here on my site. As I do not know who she is or where she is I cannot contact her to get her permission. The only difference from the original is the placing of the photographs and a couple of small grammatical changes, otherwise it is exactly as the original including the dedication and acknowledgements.
To see an interesting history of the Peebles Hydro - with photographs, please download the zipped PDF file at the following: Hydro this file is approx 1.3MB in

If you would like more information than I have supplied about Peebles, I recommend that you visit. Peebles Info Where you will also find a comprehensive list of places to stay.
Another extremely good and well informed site about Peebles (and the Borders in general) can be found HERE

My thanks goes to "The Peebles info web site" (which has been created to provide information about Peebles and the surrounding areas) for allowing me to use some of the photographs from their site.