Much of the church you see today can be dated back to around 1120, though as the tower and nave are on slightly different alignments, they may have been built in different phases. The story of the church actually goes back much further, to the late 500s. The first church is said to have been founded here by St Mungo (also known as St Kentigern), possibly during his tenure as Archbishop of Strathclyde from 585.
The most compelling legend from this era is that St Mungo converted Merlin to Christianity and baptised him at a spot near Stobo. The story goes that Merlin, one of two historical figures later combined to form the Merlin in the Arthurian legend, had been living in the forests that covered the area since the defeat of the army of Gwenddoleu by the King of Strathclyde in 573.
Unlike many old Scottish churches, Stobo Kirk survived the Reformation, though the ‘jougs’, a metal collar attached to the wall by a chain, show the more rigorous approach being taken to discipline in the post Reformation church.
In 1863, the church was extensively renovated. Further work was done in 1929 to rebuild the chapel immediately to the north of the nave, which had at some point been demolished, and to connect it into the body of the church.
The surrounding kirkyard is home to a number of fascinating gravestones. One, in memory of John Noble who died in 1723, carries a full length carving of him shown as a soldier, complete with musket. Another, close to the tower, dates back to 1694.
The nave and chancel are simply beautiful, while extra interest is added by the north aisle chapel. This is home to two extremely old grave slabs unearthed during the 1929 rebuilding. One carries a Latin inscription remembering Robert Vesey, who died on 10 May 1473. Another carries a fairly crude outline carving, looking to modern eyes like a cartoon figure, of a knight in armour, complete with sword, from the early 1500s.