About Mungo Park
The site marker is on the wall of the house (now council offices) on your right; it was here that the pioneering African explorer Mungo Park was apprenticed to Dr. Anderson, courting and marrying his daughter. This corner is also the site of the memorial stone dated 1985 which commemorates the Riding of the South Marches to mark the 450th anniversary of the granted Town Charter. As you explore the monument take care to avoid the traffic at this busy corner, which is also close to another entrance to old Selkirk, protected by the then East Port (gate). The statue to Mungo Park, erected in 1859, was designed and sculpted by Andrew Currie. In 1905 the fine relief bronze panels, by Galashiels’ sculptor Thomas Clapperton, were added to depict Park’s travels in the Niger and in 1913, the corner life-size figures of Peace, War, Slavery and Home Life in that region added further enhancement. Park was born in 1771 in the Yarrow valley a few miles away. In 1795 he sailed to the Gambia to lead a team exploring for the course of the Niger. In 1797 he returned to Scotland having managed to follow the course of the Niger River for almost 400 miles. Although he returned to practice medicine in the Borders at Peebles, the lure of Africa proved too strong and he returned to lead his final ill fated exploration in 1805. After much hardship and with few of his company remaining alive, they were ambushed near Boussa in what is now Nigeria. The account reads: “The people began to attack, throwing lances, pikes, arrows and stones. Mr. Park defended himself for a long time: two of his slaves at the stern of the canoe were killed: they threw everything they had in the canoe into the river, and kept firing; but being overpowered by numbers and fatigue, and no probability of escaping, Mr Park took hold of one of the white men and jumped into the water, and was drowned in the stream attempting to escape.” Turn right beyond the Georgian house and the council office to arrive at the Victorian splendour of the parish church dated 1880, which was built in an early Gothic style with a spire 130ft high. The building was originally known as the Lawson Memorial Church, in memory of a famous local cleric. Although Selkirk was originally a small town, by the boom textile years at the end of the 19th century it was served by nine churches, when it had once only required two. After the church you will come to the Selkirk Bowling Club boundary wall and the marker for the next site.