Newcastleton is the largest settlement in Liddesdale, the valley lying to the east of the line of the modern A7 and even closer to the line of the English border. For many centuries Liddesdale lay on the front line in the wars between England and Scotland, as illustrated in the troubled history of Hermitage Castle, five miles to the north. And even after the Union of the Crowns in 1603 this was bandit country, plagued by cattle rustlers and Border Reivers.
To find the origins of Newcastleton you need to look a couple of miles north east along Liddesdale. Close to the confluence of the Liddel Water and the Hermitage Water at the junction between the B6399 and the B6357, are earthworks on which Liddel Castle was built in the 1100s. A settlement called Castleton grew in the shelter of the castle, and became home to the parish kirk.
Liddel Castle was destroyed in the 1300s and by the 1700s the main settlement in the parish lay a little to the south, and was called Copyhaugh. In 1777 this became home to a new parish church. In 1793 the Duke of Buccleuch built a long and narrow village here to a geometrical plan. Newcastleton, as he called the new focus of the parish, was established as a centre for the hand weaving industry.
For a village built when most people got around on foot, a design that emerged as not far short of a mile long by at most a couple of hundred yards wide seems odd. But this did allow residents maximum access to the Liddel Water, and it also fitted neatly between the river and the rising ground to the west. The village centres on Douglas Square.
Either side of it the main road, North and South Hermitage Street, runs dead straight through the village via the smaller North and South Hermitage Squares. Off either side are a pattern of lanes, while to the east the design is finished off by a riverside road parallel to the main street variously called North, Mid and South Liddel Street.
Shops and other facilities are dotted along the main street, though most, including the Liddesdale Hotel and the Grapes Hotel are in or near Douglas Square.
At the south end of the village is the Liddesdale Heritage Centre and Museum in the old Townfoot Kirk. This is run by the Liddesdale Heritage Association. The museum covers the history of Liddesdale and its people.
As a footnote to the slightly odd story of the origin of the name of Newcastleton, the observant may notice the alternative also given on Ordnance Survey maps: Copshaw Holm This is a variation on the name that preceded the 1793 settlement: Copyhaugh
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