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Duns Town Trail
Duns Parish Kirk

Duns Parish Kirk

Duns Parish Kirk (2). Before reaching the kirk you pass close by the church hall. The hall was built in the late 18th century as the Parish school and schoolmaster's house and was harled when it was new, with only the sandstone dressings being visible. Just past the halls is the kirk itself which was built near the site of an earlier church.

The entrance to the kirkyard is to the side of the building and you can find many fine gravestones here. Notice the slate grave slab near the entrance with the word "Dunse" inscribed on it, this being the spelling used from the 1720s until 1882, when a public meeting agreed to revert to the ancient spelling. There are few examples of such gravestones in the Borders. Robert Burns visited Duns in May 1787 and stayed with the Ainslie family. He attended the kirk and seeing Rachel Ainslie searching for the passage to which the minister was referring, Burns wrote a note to her that said:

"Fair Maid, you need not take the hint,
Nor idle texts pursue
Twas guilty sinners that he meant
Not angels, such as you."

Rachel Ainslie is buried in the Ainslie family grave that can be found in the graveyard.

The ancient parish kirk was taken down in 1790 and replaced by another church on this adjoining site. That building was demolished in 1874 and yet another built. The new kirk was destroyed in a fire of 1879 and was then rebuilt in 1880 with the same plan and incorporating much of the original fabric, including the steeple. The interior of this building has a fine black and terracotta tiled floor and there is a panelled gallery with boxed pews for the families of the local estates.

Leave the kirk and return to Market Square via the close that faces you. Just as you enter the Square again, you pass on your left number 5 which is an early 19th century three storey house. Notice the render that has been lined to make it look like ashlar . The mouldings around the door and windows of the shop lend a sense of elegance. On your right is a building that contains the chemist's shop. Each side of the building has panelled pilasters, which is a feature of early 19th century buildings in Duns. The shop-front was rebuilt in the early 1990s and is essentially a copy of the original design.

Look beyond the Cross and you will see a three storey block, the left hand of which has a clock on the gable, this is the Tolbooth House.

back: The Mercat Cross next:  Tolbooth House

Duns Scotland, Scottish Borders UK