As Curator for Lord Ralph Kerr at Ferniehirst Castle I am frequently asked by members of the Kerr Clan if I can suggest sites near Jedburgh associated with the Kerrs. There are indeed a number of sites to put you in touch with your roots and invoke a real feeling of the history of your important and powerful family here in Roxburghshire.
I have created the following pages as a guide for those of you who may be planning a 'Kerr tour', following the trail back through the centuries to the earliest Roxburghshire Kerrs.
The ideal base is Jedburgh, a town that grew up around the great abbey founded in 1147. Originally sited on the edge of Jedwood, a royal hunting forest, Jedhart (Jedburgh) quickly gained in imortance as a centre of trade and commerce on the border between Scotland and England. A Medieval castle, built by David I once stood sentinal overlooking the town from a hillside still called Castlegate today. English invasions during the 13th and 14th centuries resulted the Scots demolishing their own fortification in 1409.
The arrival of the Ferniehirst Kerrs in 1470 and their rise to power in Jedwood established them as powerful landholders, and when Dand (Andrew) Kerr, born in 1471, inherited Ferniehirst from his father Sir Thomas Kerr in 1490 he was already regarded as a great warrior chieftain. Feared by the English and favoured by the Scottish King, Dand Kerr commanded the 2000 strong 'Men of Jedhart'. Wealth and status allowed Dand to establish the little friary uncovered in 1982 beneath a car park in a corner of Jedburgh town. Records show him making numerous offerings and benefices to the great abbey church. Towers and bastle houses in the town were held by the Ferniehirst Kerrs, the largest stood on the site of the present day Mercat Cross. Dand's descendants all feature strongly in the history of Jedburgh.