Berwickshire Naturalists

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The Berwickshire Naturalists Club held their fifth meeting of the 2011 season when 45 members assembled at Ferniehirst Castle on a fine sunny day.

The curator, Mr Bob Lawson, gave a short talk on the castle house, which now serves as a visitor centre, and an introduction to the Kerr family of Ferniehurst.

The members then formed two groups to tour the castle.

The first point of interest was the undercroft, which dates back to the fifteenth century, over which the castle was rebuilt in 1598.

The Borders were an unruly place during this period and the Kerrs, like many neighbouring families, were involved in longstanding feuds.

The building has been much altered over the centuries. It served as a youth hostel from 1933 to 1982.

One member remembered staying there in 1946!

In 1983 Lord and Lady Lothian redeemed the lease and began an extensive renovation programme.

The main hall still retains its historic features, including a grand fireplace of seventeenth century design, and is now used as a family living room.

There is a pleasant woodland walk leading down to the Jed water and opposite the parking area the Butts field where during the 15th century men between 16 and 60 were obliged to practise archery twice a week.

After an interesting morning some of the members took the opportunity to visit Jedburgh Abbey and Mary, Queen of Scots, house.