In its long and frequently violent history, Jedburgh has had at least four different Town Seals.
The first of these represented the coronation of the Blessed Virgin (in whose honour Jedburgh Abbey is dedicated), and showed her on Jesus' right hand side. The second showed a Madonna holding the Holy Child, again symbolising the town's religious associations.
The third design, adopted in 1650, bore the figure of a unicorn. This being a part of the King's Arms, the town was officially advised thirty years later that it could not be allowed to continue its use. Accordingly, the Town Council applied to the Lord Lyon from whom they received the design which is described in heraldic language as:
- Gules, on a horse salient Argent, furnished Azure, a chevalier armed at all points, grasping in his right hand a kind of lance (called the Jedburgh Staff).
- The motto in an Escrol is Strenue et Prospere (Coronet added in Extract of Matriculation dated 15 March 1956).
In more everyday language...
Upon a red shield is a silver horse shown in the act of springing forward. The horse's harness is coloured blue and upon its back is a fully armed rider carrying an unusual lance.
The rider and lance are portrayed in their natural colours. The coronet above the shield is represented as being made of masonry, as befits a Royal Burgh, and the motto which means 'earnestly and successfully', is shown as being on a strip of parchment.
The Jedburgh coat of arms is said to be the only one containing the figure of a horse - which may be considered surprising in view of the extent to which horses were bred and used throughout the Borders in the past.
Since reorganisation of Local Government, all Burgh Arms reverted to the Crown, but following an application by the Community Council to the office of the Lord Lyon, the town has been granted the right to continue the use of their historic coat of arms.
The town name...
There are probably more alternative spellings of the Jedburgh town name than any other town in Scotland, as shown by the list below, with over 83 versions recorded throughout the centuries.
The most unusual version of the town name is probably Ludanbyrig - a name appearing in the 10th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The number and variety of spellings may reflect the antiquity of the town, for Jedburgh appears in documents as early as AD854 and there are claims too, that it may be the first established parish in Scotland
The Derivation of the Name
This is open to conjecture, one authority suggesting a link with the Gadeni, a British tribe which in early times occupied the area lying between the Teviot and present-day Northumberland. The same authority suggests that the river Jed was originally called the Gad.
Samuel Johnston, in 'Place Names of Scotland', suggests that Jed comes from the Welsh gwd - a turn or twist; and that the second syllable word or worth means an open space. In terms of pronunciation visitors to the town may be unaware that locals still refer to the town as Jeddart, which is much nearer the earlier version than the more formal name shown on maps and road signs.
A Celtic Beginning
In the year AD854 Ecred, bishop of Lindisfarne, Established two separate settlements on Jed Water, calling them both Gedwearde. The existence of two settlements of the same name is confirmed in a charter of David 1, dated about 1150, in a list of settlements in the parish.
The town which was later to become the burgh, is distinguished from its neighbour by the phrase UBI CASTELLUM EST - Literally where the castle is. The settlement without the castle disappeared through time, but is understood to have been situated 4½ miles to the south, where before there was both church and graveyard.
Jedburgh may be a small town, but the town has produced many famous sons and daughters who have played a significant contribution in developing the modern world.