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Living In Selkirk: The Local Area Guide

Selkirk is a small town and Royal Burgh, part of the Borders region of Scotland. It is a rural, fairly remote town surrounded by beautiful countryside in every direction. One of the very oldest Royal Burghs in Scotland, it has been a fairly significant town throughout history despite its small size. Selkirk was home to the first ever Border Abbey, and is also reportedly the place where the recently victorious William Wallace was formally declared the Guardian of Scotland. Several famous names and faces have has associations with Selkirk, including Bonnie Prince Charlie and Sir Walter Scott. Authors and poets have long been drawn to it, inspired by the landscape around the town.

Economically, Selkirk formerly survived on its wool industry. This industry is what expanded it from a small hamlet into a town, but did not last. The wool industry still exists, but is much smaller, and now no one single trade dominates employment.

Selkirk is known for its Selkirk Common Riding festival every year. Each June, 400 horse riders gather to commemorate the Battle of Flodden, where 80 local soldiers rode off to war with the English. Legend has it that only one man returned, bearing with him a bloodied English flag, and died as soon as he got home. The festival includes plenty of eating and drinking, and attracts visitors from all over.

Selkirk is also known for bannocks - a dry fruit cake produced locally, as well as for the Gala Rig, which is the oldest horse racing track in the country.


As of the 2011 census, Selkirk has a population of around 5,800 people. The town is mostly made up of people who identify as White Scottish (87%). A further 10% identify as White Other British. There is a very small immigrant population from Ireland and elsewhere in the EU.

The town's mean age, like many other rural locations, is above the national average at 43.8 compared to 40.3. More than a fifth of people in Selkirk are of pensionable age, while 62.1% are aged between 16 and 65 and only 16.6% are children. When asked, the locals overwhelmingly reported their health as 'very good' or 'good' (82.6% in total) and just around 4% said it was 'bad' or 'very bad'.

On average, the people of Selkirk have fewer formal qualifications than the national population. Nearly a third of people have no formal qualifications whatsoever, while just over a fifth have achieved Level 4 qualifications or higher.

However, the unemployment rate in the town is still fairly low at 4.2%. While the town no longer has one powerhouse industry, employment is diversified with 70% of people driving a distance to work. The biggest employing sectors are retail trade, wholesale, health and social work.

Selkirk has a relatively high rate of home ownership. 60.5% of houses are owner occupied, which is just about in line with the national average, and only around 10% are privately rented. According to the census, 28.9% are used as social housing.

In terms of the type of dwelling, 32.4% are flats or maisonettes, 26.6% are terraced houses, 22.1% are semi-detached and 18.7% are detached.


There are two primary schools in Selkirk. They are both non-denominational and small, and are called Knowepark Primary School and Philiphaugh Community School.

Both of these feed into the town's secondary school - Selkirk High School. Selkirk High School describes their ethos as to 'provide an experience that will encourage all students to succeed in reaching their full potential and in doing so develop into considerate, caring and confident young adults.' It prides itself on its sporting as well as academic success.


Selkirk no longer has its own railway station owing to the Beeching closures of the 1960s. The nearest functioning railway station is at Galashiels, which had its station re-opened in 2006 and offers direct trains to Edinburgh.

For motorists, the main trunk road is the A7 which crosses the Borders from North to South, the entire 100 mile distance between Edinburgh and Carlisle.

Amenities and Shopping

Selkirk's small size means it is not a big destination for shoppers - it does not have much in the way of fashionable brands or big-name superstores.

However, it does have all the basics including a butchers, bakers and a Co-operative supermarket as well as some quirky antique, charity and book shops.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

p>All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith

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