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Sunday, 21 April 2013

A-Z Challenge: S for the Scottish Borders

Join me on his A-Z journey  into  A SENSE OF PLACE where I reminiscence on places that are connected with my family history or are part of my own personal memories.
I  regard myself as "an adopted Border Bairn".   I have no ancestral connection with the Scottish Borders, but have lived here over  40 years since I married and my  daughter and family were born here. My working life has also involved promoting this often forgotten corner of Scotland

The Scottish Borders consists of the counties of Berwickshire, Roxburghshire,  Peeblesshire & Selkirkshire and lies   between Edinburgh to the north and the English border, with Newcastle and Carlisle to the south.  It  is the bit visitors whizz through intent on getting to the capital and to the "real " Scotland of the Highland mountains and lochs.  They don't know what they are missing! 
Scott's ' View - the iconic image of the Scottish Borders - , looking across the Tweed Valley to the Eldon Hills - called by the Romans Trimontium (three hills)

In the 12th century Kind David I founded four Border Abbeys at Melrose,  Dryburgh, Kelso and Jedburgh.

Melrose Abbey, founded in 1136 by David I, was the first monastery of the Cistercian order established in Scotland. The heart of King Robert the Bruce is  said to be buried there.  The exterior of this  ruin is decorated by unusual sculptures, including hobgoblins, cooks with ladles and a bagpipe playing pig.


Dryburth Abbey on the wooded banks of the River Tweed was founded in 1150 and is now the final resting place of writer Sir Walter Scott and  First World War Commander, Field Marshall Earl Haig,

In the 13th to 16th centuries, the Borders  was the "Debatable Land fought over by English and Scots   - the land of  the Border Reivers, with raids and counter raids by  prominent families of Scott, Armstrong, Turnbull, Elliot, Kerr, Pringle and many other distinctive names associated with the area.

The statue at Dryburgh of William Wallace the Scottish Patriot during the Wars of Scottish Independence.[ He  defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, and was Guardian of Scotland, serving until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. Wallace was captured  In 1305, handed over to King Edward I of England, who had him summarily hanged, drawn, and quartered for high treason  His statue,  commissioned by the Earl of Buchan, was the first monument to be raised to Wallace in Scotland.  In red sandstone and 21.5 feet high, it was placed on its pedestal  in 1814.



Hermitage Castle, near Newcastleton,  is set in an isolated part of Liddesdale,  The  castle was begun by an English lord, Sir Hugh de Dacre, and captured by  Sir William Douglas in 1338, one of Scotland’s most powerful noblemen.

In  1566, the 4th Earl of Bothwell, secret lover of Mary Queen of Scots, was badly injured in a skirmish with reivers. On hearing the news, Mary  rode out to visit from Jedburgh, a 25-mile  moorland ride - a long round journey from which she nearly died.
(Source of Text :  www.historic-scotland.gov.uk) .

The 65 foot high Smailholm Tower is a prominent landmark, west of Kelso. The Pringles, built the tower in the first half of the 15th century,  and it suffered repeatedly at the hands of English raiders.   It later passed to the Scott family and the grandfather of writer Sir Walter Scott, who found inspiration there for his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders" 

Castles moved on from being fortifications to stately homes as in the case of Floors Castle at   Kelso, home of the Dukes of Roxburgh. It dates from 1721 with architects Vanburgh, Adam and Playfair all contributing to its design.  

The 19 span Leaderfoot Railway Viaduct  is 3 miles from my home and crosses over the River Tweed, near Melrose.   It  was built in 1863, with trains running until the line closed in  1965.  The structure is now in the care of Historic Scotland.    

The Eldon Hills at dusk

Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


  1. Oh my goodness, I feel as though I've just visited this lovely place, thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. I'd love to see Scotland someday. My fiance' comes from Scot heritage.


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