.jump-link{ display:none }

Friday, 5 April 2013

A-Z Challenge - E is for Earlston, Edinburgh, & Eccles Cakes

Join me on this journey into a  A SENSE OF PLACE where I will be:

  • Featuring places connected with my own family history.
  • Highlighting places with happy memories.
  • Shining the spotlight on place names that appeal.
  • Linking my interests in history, travel and photography.

E is for:

I live in EARLSTON,  Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders, the region the south east corner of Scotland, between Edinburgh (35 miles north)  and the border with England (25 miles south).   People often forget about the Borders as they whizz through heading for Edinburgh and the Highlands, but It is an rural  area full of history and heritage and country pursuits and a great place for my little granddaughter to grow up in. 
Leader Water at Earlston

The village, (population 1978)  lies in the  valley of the Leader Water, known as Lauderdale
The early settlement was known as Ercildoune from Arcioldun or Prospect Fort, with reference to the Black Hill at 1003 feet on which can be traced signs of an ancient British fort.  A local poet wrote write:

On the Black Hills’ lofty summit I stand this morn and gaze
On a scene so full of splendour and brave deeds of bygone days
So rich in nature’s glory – woodland, hills and rivers grand,

With a veil of glamour o’er it, the dear old Borderland"

A wintry scene from the Black Hill -
February 2013  


Earlston is best known for medieval  poet and prophet Thomas Learmonth, called Thomas of Ercildoune, Thomas the Rhymer, or True Thomas.    He said to have had supernatural powers that rivalled those of Merlin. He  is said to have gained his powers, after falling asleep under the Eildon Tree whilst hunting.  He met and kissed the Queen of Fairyland,  and spent seven years as her guest in the Land of the Elves before returning to Ercildoune for seven years, then disappearing for good.

The Statistical Account of Scotland of 1791 commented:

”There are at present 670 males and 681 females…….there are between 40-50 weaver looms, mostly employed weaving linen.  We have only one woollen manufacturer.

There are four mills in the parish which manufacture a considerable amount of grain……………The most common crops in the parish are oats, barley and peas…………

Horses are absolutely necessary in this part of the country, for it is by them that farmers labour their farms and drive their corn to market. They never work with oxen now as they used to.”

One great disadvantage under which this parish labours is the want of fuel.  The common people burn turf and peat.  Coal is usually from the neighbourhood of Dalkeith, a carriage of about 25 miles, which necessarily makes the price so high that the poor cannot purchase it.

The people are in general healthy;  many of them survive to old age.  The most common diseases are ague, rheumatism and scrophula.  The frequency of the last is probably due to intermarriages.  Consumptive complaints are more common”. 

Old Bridge at Earlston, built 1737.
Cowdensknowes Wood, Earlston, May 2012

Pipe Band leading the Fancy Dress Parade  at Earlston Civic Week - July 2012

I cannot omit EDINBURGH in this listing under E,  as it was my home for ten years, where I finished school, went to university, began my working life,  enjoyed its historical and cultural activities  and met my husband.   

A more unusual view of Edinburgh Castle,
looking north across the Firth of Forth to the hills of Fife.
Taken from the roof of the Blackford Hill Observatory.

PLACE NAMES THAT APPEAL - Eccles  in Lancashire.  as it reminds me of the delicious Eccles Cakes my mother made  - a small flaky pastry  pie filled with  currants, candied peel. nutmeg,  butter and demerera sugar.  Yummy!

Also Ecclefechan in south west Scotland,  which has a grand ring to it - just try saying it!      

Join me on the next stage of my A-Z Journey as we look at F. 

Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson. All Rights Reserved


  1. I had to look up scrophula to see why it would be caused by intermarriage and found it's a form of TB usually caused by drinking unpasturized milk from affected cows.

    Wish I had one of those Eccles cakes right now!

    1. Many thanks, Kristin for taking the time to reading my post - and finding out more.

  2. Thanks Kristin ;-) I'd heard of it but couldn't retrieve the meaning which wasn't much use.

    You look like you've settled in such a pretty place Susan! And yes, lovely for your granddaughter to grow up there.

    As for Edinburgh....aaah :-)

    Despite knowing of Eccles cakes I don't think I've ever had one. Something to remedy "next time".

    1. Thank you, Pauleen, for your comment. I have been rather ambitious with my theme in this A-Z challenge, but I am pleased to feature some lesser known parts of Britain.


Thank you for your comment which will appear on screen after moderation.