Stobo Parish Church
Stobo Parish Church
Stobo is one of the oldest religious sites in the Scottish Borders, with roots going back to the 6th century. According to tradition, the original church at Stobo was founded by Kentigern, more popularly known in Scottish history as St Mungo.

There may be truth to the tale, as Mungo is known to have established numerous churches in a broad swath across southern Scotland in his role as archbishop of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. Stobo church was the mother church of smaller chapels at Kingledoors, Tweedsmuir, Dawyck, Drumelzier, Broughton, Glenholm, and Lyne.

Mungo's church was replaced by the current building in the 12th century, at which time it consisted of a nave, sanctuary, and west tower. The tower was later rebuilt n the 16th century, in a form reminiscent of traditional fortified tower houses. The south porch also dates from around the 16th century and is notable for a pair of 'jougs', or shackles, displayed in a glass case set on the west wall.

There is a transept chapel on the north side, added in the 15th century. It was at one thought that the north aisle chapel was a very early hermit's cell, associated with the foundation of the site. An ancient standing stone has been built into the wall of the chapel, and there are grave slabs to an unknown knight, the local miller, and the 14th-century slab of Robert Vesey. In the nave is a Celtic cross, now much worn, found during restoration work.

Merlin at Stobo

One fascinating story associated with Stobo Kirk links it with Arthurian legend. Tradition says that St Mungo baptised Merlin Sylvestris on a large stone a few miles away from the current church location. This 'altar stone' is now inside Stobo church.

Merlin Sylvestris was a pagan hermit, one of several characters whose stories were merged in popular imagination to create the wizard Merlin of Arthurian folklore. A stained glass window in the church commemorates the baptism of Merlin by Kentigern.

The oldest parts of the church to survive include 12th-century lancet windows in the chancel, and a pair of simple arched doorways. The north doorway has a door made from a single plank of cedar from Dawyck. There are also fragmentary traces of medieval wall painting still remaining.

The church is usually open during daylight hours.