Heading south 11 miles from Edinburgh,the A68 follows an almost straight line bypassing Dalkeith as it climbs towards Soutra only to descend into Lauderdale, a historic route to the Border with England.
This is no coincidence for it closely aligns with the Roman Dere street that connected Hadrian's Wall with the Roman fort at Inveresk. Approaching Pathhead,a Telford Bridge crosses the River Tyne unnoticed,as the main route runs through the village.
On either side of the highway a straggle of single storey cottages,a few with their original red pantile roofs are testimony to the original weavers that settled here.Kilns for lime production, primarily used for agriculture and building were a further source of employment.Later Pathhead became a noted coal mining community.
A sign from the main street points west to Crichton castle and the few cottages of Crichton village.A single track road ends beside the grand old Medieval church built in 1449, by William Crichton Lord Chancellor of Scotland.
If anything could portray power and wealth as befitting a Lord Chancellor this visibly did both. Not only used as a place of worship,the priests sole purpose was to pray for the lord and his family for future salvation.However all good things come to an end and the Crichton family fell out of favour and their lands passed to the Hepburns, Earls of Bothwell.
Return to the car park where there is an information board for the other notable building in the parish,Crichton Castle.A 500m path leads to the castle set in splendid isolation overlooking the River Tyne.Built around 1450 by Chancellor Crichton it is linked to James Hepburn,the 4th Earl of Bothwell, who married Mary Queen of Scots in 1567.
In the care of Historic Scotland it is a fine example of different phases of construction,from tower house to a unique diamond faceted stone facade more commonly seen in the Mediterranean.
A right of way past the stable block descends to a foot bridge over a burn and can be followed to the equally impressive Borthwick Castle in the neighbouring parish of Borthwick. A route card produced by Scotways should be used as there are obstacles to be avoided.
Towards the Pentland Hills overlooking the infant river Tyne, which flows past Haddington to the sea just north of Dunbar – it doesn’t flow to Newcastle- on-Tyne; another river, another country…
Crichton Monumental Inscriptions. Lothian Family History Society
Crichton 1913-1914 School Board Letter Book,Cashbook and Ledgers 1892-1919, School log book 1873-1947
Pathhead St Mary's RC school 1889-1920
Crichton cemetery lair certificates 1843-1977,churchyard ledger 1942-1949 and funeral notices 1949-1965
Crichton Parish Links
fickr Pathhead People,Places Photographs
Undiscovered Scotland Pathhead
Undiscovered Scotland Crichton Castle
Undiscovered Scotland Crichton Collegiate Church