A small town in the Scottish Borders, Jedburgh lies on the Jed Water, 12 miles (19 km) northeast of Hawick and 11 miles (18 km) southwest of Kelso. Situated at a strategic location near a river crossing at the southern end of Lauderdale, the original settlement of Old Jedward, Jeddart or Jethart is thought to have been a post-Roman capital of the Geddewrd. The present town developed in association with an Augustinian priory for French monks from St Quentin in Picardy founded by David I in 1138. Elevated to the status of an abbey in 1147, it became one of the most powerful religious centres in the Scottish Borders. Although destroyed by the English in 1544, its ruins remain one of the architectural gems of the Scottish Borders. The settlement became a royal burgh in the 12th century and later became the county town of Roxburghshire until it was replaced by Newton St Boswells in 1899.
In mediaeval times Jedburgh defended itself against frequent border raids, the local men deftly handling the famous 'Jeddart staff', a long pole tipped by a metal hook. The castle, which once stood on the site of the Jedburgh Castle Jail and Museum (1832), was ceded to England under the Treaty of Falaise in 1174 but was finally destroyed in 1409 by order of the Scottish Parliament. The ancient ball game known as 'Jethart Hand-ba' supposedly derives from the Jedburgh men playing with the heads of English soldiers. Today the game is played at Candlemas and Easter E'en by two opposing teams.
In addition to the abbey, buildings of note include Mary Queen of Scots House, where she stayed in October 1566, and the houses on the Castlegate, one of which was occupied by Prince Charles Edward Stuart on his way to England in 1745. Born in Jedburgh were the surveyor John Ainslie (b.1745), the mathematician Mary Somerville (b.1780) and the scientist Sir David Brewster (b.1781), inventor of the Kaleidoscope.