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Friday, 4 April 2014

D for Dryburgh Abbey, Duns Scotus & the Douglas Tragedy

Welcome to a Look Around 
"My Scottish Borders"

D is for 

DRYBURGH 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, who lived nearby at Bemersyde.

John Duns Scotus c.1265.–1308), a Franciscan priest  was one of the most important and influential philosopher-theologians of the Middle Ages.  He was born in Duns, Berwickshire, educated in Melrose, Dumfries and Oxford and served the church  in Paris and Cologne where he died. But his  teaching split the church between Franciscan and Dominican schools of thought.  Duns Scotus was beatified by Pope John Paul ll in 1993.

Duns Scotus fell out  of favour in the 16th century, by which time his followers were derided for their dullness and obstinacy - and so the term "Dunce" came into the language.  

THE DOUGLAS TRAGEDY is a ballad featured in Sir Walter Scott's "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders". it tells  a romantic but sad story story, set at Blackhouse Tower on the Douglas Burn in the Yarrow Valley - a stronghold of the Douglas family, with seven sons and daughter Lady Margaret. 

A local nobleman, Lord William, and Lady Margaret, fell in love. The couple eloped, but they were intercepted by father Douglas and  his sons, who one by one  were felled.  

Sir Wailliam survived but was badly injured and died in his lover's arms.   Lady Margaret,  unable to bear the loss of her fmaily and lover died of greif and was bureid alongside William in St. Mary's Church.  It is said that out of each grave grew a brier which entwined into one. 

Like to many a ballad, it is long (20 verses) but here are some to read and enjoy the beauty of the language. 

"Rise, rise up, now Lord Douglas" she says
"And put on your armour so bright.
Let it never be said that a daughter of thine
War married to a lord under night".

Lord William, lookit over his left shoulder
To see what he could see,
And there he spy'd her seven brethren bold
Come riding over the lee.

She held his steed in her milk white hand
And never shed a tear.
Until that she saw her seven brethren fa'
And her father hard fuighting who loved her so dear

He lifted her on a milk white steed
And himself on a dapple grey
With a bugelet horn hung down by his side
And slowly they baith rode away. 

O they rode on,  and on they rode
And a' by the light of the moon
Until  they came to you wan water
And there they lighted down 

Sir William was dead lang ere midnight
Lady Margaret lang ere day
And all true lovers that go thegither,
  May they have mair luck than they!

Lord William was buried in St. Mary’s kirk,
  Lady Margret in Mary’s quire;
Out o the lady’s grave grew a bonny red rose,
  And out o the knight’s a brier.


               Follow the next stage of this A-Z Journey 
through the Scottish Borders

E is for
            Earlston,  Elliots, Enigma and Eyemouth Tart 

The Scottish Borders 
The old counties of Berwickshire, Peeblesshire, Roxburghshire & Selkirkshire
Scottish Borders in Scotland.svg

Do take a look at earlier  posts in "My Scottish Borders

A-Z Challenge - Preview
A-Z Challenge A - Abbeys,Abbotsford and Armstrongs
A-Z Challenge B - Border Reivers, Border Ballads and Blackmail
A-Z Challenge C - Common Ridings and Carter Bar


  1. A marvellous post, Sue. I knew about Duns Scotus but the Douglas tragedy is something new, I enjoyed this post very much.

  2. Today I learned that where the word dunce came from. Another thing I like about the A to Z Challenge.


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