Chartered 8th December 1806
The village of Stow lies on the A7 a few miles north of
Galashiels Its seldom used full name is - The Stow of Wedale.
Local folklore interprets "Wedale" as "Dale of Woe", commemorating, it is said, a battle fought here by King Arthur.
Although little remains today, Our Lady's Chapel is probably the oldest site associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Scotland.
The name Stow is thought to be from the Old English for "Place" or "Holy Place", and Wedale from the Old English "Wiche" meaning shrine and "Dahl" meaning valley. So we have Valley of the Shrine.
The first written mention of Wedale comes in the Historia Britonum" written by the Welsh monk Nemius in AD826. According to Nemius, King Arthur had, in gratitude to Our Lady for a vision in which she assured him of victory over the invading Angles, caused an image of Our Lady to be brought from Cappadocia and placed in "Our Lady's House at Wedale".
Stow has been known as religious centre for many centuries. A church was founded in Stow as early as the 600s. The earliest you can see on the ground today is the Old Kirk, built in the late 1400s on the site of the Church of St Mary, which was consecrated on 3 November 1242 by Bishop David de Bernham of St Andrews. The Old Kirk was in turn repaired and rebuilt in the 1700s and early 1800s, before being abandoned in favour of a new church on a nearby site. It is now an attractive and intriguing ruin. In the south east corner of the Old Kirkyard you can still see the remains of the Bishop's Palace, believed to have been an occasional residence of the Bishop of St Andrews who owned considerable estates in the Borders.
St Mary of Wedale Church was built in 1876 and has an impressive tower standing some 140ft tall. The church clock has a particular reputation for accuracy and in the days when Stow had a Railway Station on the Edinburgh Hawick Railway Line, train drivers would set their watches by it.
Opposite the church is the pack horse bridge built to cross the Gala Water in 1655, using stone from the choir of the Old Kirk which at the time was in ruins. This was the first bridge over the Gala Water (until then everyone used fords). It linked Stow to the main stage coach route between Edinburgh and Gala which unlike the modern A7 we use today, it followed the west bank of this stretch of the river.
Our Lady's Well and Our Lady's Chapel were also just a short distance South of Stow. Not much remains of the Chapel. The well was rebuilt by Ralph Parker a local "dry stone dyker" as part of the local millennium project to celebrate the year 2000 and copies the previous one which is thought to have been constructed around 1863