Kelso High School, Scotland

Kelso High School
Bowmont Street
Coordinates 55°36′14″N 2°26′19″W / 55.6038°N 2.4386°W / 55.6038; -2.4386Coordinates: 55°36′14″N 2°26′19″W / 55.6038°N 2.4386°W / 55.6038; -2.4386
Type Public high school
Established 1878
School district Scottish Borders
Enrollment 685 [1]
Color(s) yellow, red and blue

Kelso High School is a secondary school in Kelso, Scotland, under the control of the Scottish Borders Council.[2] It is one of nine secondary schools in the Scottish Borders and the only one in Kelso. Pupils come to Kelso High School from the town of Kelso, the villages of Ednam, Eckford, Heiton, Makerstoun, Stichill, Smailholm, Sprouston, Morebattle, Roxburgh and Yetholm. During the 2010-2011 school year, the enrolment was 685. The current building was built in 1939.[1]


The first documentation of a grammar school in Roxburgh is in 1152. When Roxburgh was abandoned, the school became part of the Kelso Abbey and after the Reformation, it became known as Kelso Grammar School. It was a boys only, fee-paying school run by monks from the Kelso Abbey and was overseen by the Duke of Roxburghe, the Kirk Session and the Heritor. Fees were based on the number and type of courses taken. In 1156, it was mentioned as one of the four principal schools in Scotland. A new school was built in 1670 and was added to in 1780. The Kelso Grammar School was considered in very poor condition and closed its doors in February 1873.

On a site near the Abbey a new Kelso Public School was built and opened in 1879 with 523 pupils. In 1919, following the First World War the school came under control of the Education Authorities and the numbers attending the school exceeded 200. The school remained open until 1939 when the Army took possession. The current school was opened in 1939 on Bowmont Street with 693 pupils.[3][4] It was designed by Edinburgh architects George Reid and John Smith Forbes and today is listed by Historic Scotland as a building of outstanding architectural interest.[5]

School badge

The Kelso High School badge was adopted when the school was opened and is based on the Coat of Arms of Douglas of Springwood, an estate just across the River Tweed from Kelso. Its design commemorates an event that took place during the Scottish Wars of Independence. Following Scottish King Robert the Bruce's successful fight for Scottish independence from England, he felt the need to join the Holy Land crusades. His desire was not fulfilled due to poor health that led to his death in 1329. Sir James Douglas, a close friend, promised to take his heart to the Holy Land after he would die.

Following Bruce's death, his heart was wrapped in lead and put into a silver casket. Douglas kept his promise and with some followers, headed off to fight in the crusades. They joined the fighting in Seville, Spain where Douglas was killed on 25 March 1330 in the battle of Zebas de Arcales. His body, along with Bruce's heart were brought back to Scotland and Bruce's heart was buried at Melrose Abbey.

Douglas was awarded the coat of arms with the heart and crown symbolizing Bruce's heart following his actions and carrying out his promise. The motto 'Doe or Die' symbolizes 'let us do or die,' Bruce's rallying cry to his troops before the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.[6]

Notable alumni of Kelso High School and the former Kelso Grammar School

Notable staff


  1. 1 2 "Standards and Quality Report - September 2010" (PDF). Kelso High School. September 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  2. "Life in the Borders - Kelso Schools". Scottish Borders Council. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  3. "Schools in Kelso". City of Kelso, Scotland. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  4. "History of KHS". Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  5. "Edinburgh's Best - 150 Years of the EAA". Edinburgh Architectural Association. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  6. "School Badge". Retrieved 12 August 2011.
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