Oldhamstocks History

This page is dedicated to sharing memories and pictures of Oldhamstocks from as far back as we can find. Please do send us any pictures or pieces of information you have for us to share!

Market Village

This watercolour below shows a bustling fair which took place at the Mercat (or Market) Cross, both the commercial heart of the village and symbol of its right to trade. Oldhamstocks was given the right to a weekly market in 1627. Carse's picture dated 1796 is an important record of a Scottish country fair, as these were becoming increasingly rare. The late eighteenth century saw the disappearance of many rural customs and was a time of great social change in Scotland. Fairs and markets had traditionally been an integral part of the rural economy, fulfilling multiple functions as food, clothing and livestock markets, and as a hiring ground for farm servants. Carse takes great delight in depicting all the local characters, and shows that fairs were also a great opportunity for social gatherings.

Mercat Cross

The market cross of Oldhamstocks was removed before 1900, the shaft at that time being preserved in the manse gardens. (J W Small)

The shaft of this market cross was re-erected on a modern base on the village green in the mid 1950's. The original site of the cross was in the North half of the manse garden (exact site not known) which once was part of the village green. (Mr Hendry, The Smithy)

This picture is titled "View of the market cross at Oldhamstocks, with no ball finial" but more resembles Cockburnspath Market Cross.

Date c. 1893

Date 1975-1976

Date 2018

Cromwell in Oldhamstocks

A number of houses in Oldhamstocks bear the name "Cromwell" and Oliver Cromwell is reputed to have stayed at a tavern on the site of the house now known as Cromwell Hall prior to the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. On the 2nd September 1650, Cromwell was ‘cornered’ at Dunbar expecting to be beaten soundly by the Scottish Presbyterian force of Sir David Leslie. The Clerics with the Scottish Army forced Leslie to make a fatal move that allowed Cromwell, on the 3rd September, demolish the Scottish army in the space of an hour.

More information is available at https://www.johngraycentre.org/east-lothian-subjects/war-battles-military/dunbar-1650/cromwells-prisoners/

The late-Mediaeval parish church was extended with the addition of the Hepburn Aisle in 1581. The church was further altered in 1701 and 1930. 17th and 18th Century memorials can be found in the kirkyard, although many are in poor condition.


Watch House

Small, single chamber watch house, set in S boundary wall. Droved ashlar with raised base course and eaves course. Doorway at the E end. Pedimented gables to E and W, with weathered plaque in E pediment. Pointed arch window to N at centre with intersecting glazing pattern. Ashlar coped skews and grey slates; stack by W gable. Simple chimneypiece inside at W end.

One notable individual from Oldhamstocks is John Broadwood. John was born in Cockburnspath and grew up in Oldhamstocks in 1732. He inherited his father's profession of carpentry, before walking all the way from the village to London, where he founded the now world-renowned piano manufacturer John Broadwood and Sons.

Another noted person from the area (born 1811 at Birnieknowes to be exact) was Alexander Somerville who was the author of many books and pamphlets including "The autobiography of a working man" which cronicles the farming communities around Dunbar in the 1800's

James Hardy LL.D. (1 June 1815, in Oldhamstocks, East Lothian – 30 September 1898, in Old Cambus, Cockburnspath, Berwickshire) was a Scottish naturalist and antiquarian. He was secretary of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club from 1871 until at least 1896. At least two species have been named in his honour.

Victorian Oldhamstocks

The East Lothian Combination consisted of the 15 parishes of Aberlady, Bolton, Cockburnspath, Dirleton, Dunbar, Garvald, Innerwick, North Berwick, Oldhamstocks, Prestonkirk,  Spott, Stenton, Whitekirk, Whittinghame and Yester later joined by Athelstaneford, Ayton, Coldingham, Eyemouth, Longformacus, and Morham. The total population of the member parishes in 1881 was 19, 876. 

The East Lothian poorhouse was built in 1864 on a 4.5 acre site in East Linton, Prestonkirk. It was designed by the partnership of Peddie and Kinnera.

More information is available at http://www.workhouses.org.uk/EastLothian/

The picture below must be from the 1920-30's judging by the model of car and the fact that there is a public telephone!

The picture below shows the school, schoolhouse and "Greenend". Records of the school date back to 1872 and end with the school closing in 1970. Since then it has been a craft workshop, an organ factory and is now a private dwelling.


McWilliam, C E. (1978a) Lothian except Edinburgh, The Buildings of Scotland series. Harmondsworth. Page(s): 372 RCAHMS

Patricia Dennison, Eydmann, Lyell, Lynch and Stronach, E, S, A, M and S. (2012) Painting the Town: Scottish Urban History in Art. Great Britain. Page(s): 382-385 RCAHMS

Small, J W. (1900) Scottish market crosses. Stirling.

Statistical Accounts for 1793 and 1850s

East Lothian Fourth Statistical Account 1945-2000: The parishes of Dunbar, Innerwick, Oldhamstocks, Spott, Stenton. vol 6

Sally Smith, Cockburnspath: a history of a people and a place: including: Cove, Dunglass, Old Cambus, Oldhamstocks, Bilsdean, Tower and Pease, Cockburnspath, 1999

Keith Snell, The whistler at the plough, Alexander Somerville 1811-1885, London 1989



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