At first sight, Channelkirk Church seems in an odd place for a parish church. It stands near the hamlet of Kirktonhill, high on a spur of land formed by river valleys to the south and north east. The main A68 passed along the valley less than half a mile to the north east, but the church itself is accessed by very minor roads. Its location places it a little over a mile from Oxton and a little over five miles from Lauder.
The church you see today was built in 1817 by the architect James Gillespie Graham. It comes, unusually but very attractively, in a pink harled finish. The basic plan is rectangular and internally the pulpit is set against the centre of the south wall. Ground floor pews face either across the church towards the pulpit or inwards from the ends, and there is a substantial gallery which sweeps round three sides of the church. When built the church must have been designed to accommodate far more people than live within reasonable walking distance today.
The origins of Channelkirk Church are ancient, possibly dating back as far as the century either side of 700. The best evidence for this emerged in 1897 when a grave was being dug near the south west corner of the church. This unearthed what seems to have been an early Christian long cist or kist burial: a body surrounded by flat stones laid on their side. It is possibly significant that the site of the church was on or very close to the line of the old Roman road through the Borders, Dere Street, which would probably still have been in use at this time.
In the late 1100s there are records of Channelkirk Church being grated to Dryburgh Abbey, and in 1241 it was consecrated by Bishop David de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews. This does not imply the church that stood here at the time was newly built. Bishop de Bernham consecrated large numbers of churches, old and new, during his tenure, probably as a means of getting to know his flock and the buildings that served them. From very early in its life Channelkirk Church has been dedicated to St Cuthbert. It is said that Cuthbert worked as a shepherd-boy among these hills until one night he saw a vision. The next day he applied to become a monk at the early Celtic monastery at Old Melrose.
By 1627 Channelkirk Church was recorded as forming the shape of a cross, though the choir stood roofless. It seems to have been repaired in about 1650 and given a turf roof. A slate roof followed in 1724 and as noted above the entire church was rebuilt in 1817.
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