Rededication of Souden Kirk, Southdean. July 1986
Rededication of Souden Kirk, Southdean. July 1986

Respected historical author Nigel Tranter is pictured with the Reverend James Strachan of Hobkirk Parish Church at a service to rededicate Souden Kirk in August 1986.

The 11th-century church in the parish of Southdean in the upper Jed Water valley closed its doors in 1690.

The 1986 service was held on the 75th anniversary of the first rededication service and 22 years since the last rededication at the ruins. One of those attending that service was Charlie Douglas of Ruletownhead who returned on this occasion to read the lesson.

Others who attended included Lord Minto, Baroness Elliot and The Hon. Miss Fiona Campbell. Hawick Archeological Society was also well represented. It was this organisation which, in 1910, had uncovered the outline of the walls and tower of the ancient kirk.

Mr Tranter gave what TheSouthern described as a passionate address, classifying history as “an extension of mankind and his religion”. The author told the outdoor congregation that even in the Dark Ages, man required to worship after realising that there was something higher than mankind itself.

He highlighted the history of the site and said that the parish of Southdean was one of the earliest, having been established by King David 1, the king who had formed the parish system.

Mr Tranter gave accounts of the families who had lived in the area and recalled how many of them had fought at the Battle of Otterburn in 1338. Souden Kirk was where the 30,000-strong Scottish army gathered to prepare the strategy that gave them victory of the English.

Jedforest Instrumental Band, under its conductor Leslie Rose, provided music for the four hymns which were sung and the collection of £146 was donated to the Institute for the Scottish War Blinded.

– compiled by Bob Burgess

Photograph: Alastair Watson