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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

M for Muckle Mou'ed Meg & Melrose in "My Scottish Borders""

Welcome to a Look Around 
"My Scottish Borders"

M is for: 

The story of 'Muckle Mou'd Meg' is told in the ballad  "The Fray of Elibank" by Borders poet James Hogg.  

Sir William Scott of Harden  (an ancestor of writer Sir Walter Scott) was captured on a raid  to the Murray stronghold of Elibank Castle above the River Tweed,

Soon weapons were clashing, an’ fire was flashing,
An’ red ran the bluid down the Ashiesteel brae:
The parties were shouting, the kye they were rowting, 
An’ rattling an’ galloping aff frae the fray

 [kye  - cattle] 

William was given the choice of being hanged or marrying the Laird's notoriously plain daughter  Muckle Mou'd Meg' (big mouthed Meg). He decided on marriage!  

Now Meg was but thin, an her nose it was lang,
An’her mou it was muckle as ane could weel be;
Her een they were gray, an her colour was wan
But her nature was generous, gentle, and free. 

 "My Meg, I assure you, is better than bonnie;
I rede you, in choicing let prudence decide;
Then say which ye will; ye are welcome to ony;
See, there is your coffin, or there is your bride.”

He fand the last gleam of his hope was a fadin
The green braes o Harden nae mair he wad see.
The coffin was there, which he soon must be laid in;
His proud heart was humbled,—he fell on his knee

So Willie took Meg to the forest sae fair,
An’ they lived a most happy an’ social life;
The langer he kend her, he lo’ed her the mair,
For a prudent, a virtuous, and honourable wife.

The small town of MELROSE  is noted for its famous abbey, as the home of 19th century writer Sir Walter Scott at nearby Abbotsford, the birthplace of the game of Rugby Sevens,   and a winner of Beautiful Scotland in Bloom. 

Nestling under the triple Eildon Hills, it on the route of several long distance walks - the Border Abbeys Way, St. Cuthbert's Way and the Southern Upland Way.

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. 

More fascinating facts on the Scottish Borders
  • The only silver staircase in the world you will find  at Manderston, Berwickshire -  an opulent Edwardian country house which epitomizes the "upstairs/downstairs" lifestyle at the time, with extensive kitchens and pantries, a marble dairy and sumptuous stables.  
  •  Mellerstain House in Berwickshire is an 18th century  masterpiece by William and Robert Adam. 

  • The small village of Morebattle  on the edge of the Cheviot Hills has a Teapot Street.  The name is thought to be a corruption of "Tip -it  Street" after the midden (rubbish dump) at the end of the road. 
  • The Mill towns of Hawick, Selkirk and Galashiels were the centre of the Scottish Borders knitwear and tweed industry.  By the mid 19th century, over 2000 of Scotland's 2600 knitting frames were located in the Borders, over half in Hawick producing  over a million pairs of stockings a year.  This hosiery trade gave way tothe fine outerwear garments that we know today. 
  • Follow the next stage of this A-Z journey 
    through the Scottish Borders

    N is for:

    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 
    A-Z Challenge D - Dryburgh Abbey,  Duns Scotus & The Douglas Tragedy 
    A-Z Challenge E - Elliots, Earlston, Enigma Hero and Eyemouth Tart 
    A-Z Challenge F - Flodden, Fletcher and Flowers of the Forest 
    A-Z Challenge G - A Green & Pleasant Land and Galashiels 
    A-Z Challenge H - Hermitage Castle and Hawick

    A-Z Challenge I - Inspirational Land of Poets James Hogg and Will Ogilvie 
    A-Z Challenge J -Jedburgh, Jethart Justice and Jethart Snails  
    A-Z Challenge K - Kaleidoscope, Kelso and Kinmont Willie  
    A-Z challenge L - The Fair Lilliard and Leaderfoot Viaduct 


  1. I'm glad Meg's marriage ended up being a happy one after such a start. I wish that Tea Pot street was not named after a dump but a tea pot maker living there.

  2. I thought the poem was a delightful one and am pleased the marriage worked out, despite the fact William had very little choice, but made the right one. There are so many wonderful blogs that offer something new and interesting information, and this is one of them. AtoZer http:www.writer-way.blogspot.com

  3. Thank you both for taking the time to comment during this hectic A-Z challenge. I must admit the tale of "Muckle Mou'ed Meg" is one of my favourite Border ballads and brings a smile to my face. .

  4. I recently discovered that I'm directly descended from Muckle Mou'd Meg. I'd traced one of my ancestral lines back to Agnes Scott, Mrs Veitch of Glen in Peeblesshire. And cos the marriage - in 1690s if I remember correctly - was recorded in Ashkirk I suspected she was of the Woll family, but couldn't prove it. But then I found a sasine record in the local registers, recording her marriage contract, signed by her father and brothers, and totally confirming her as daughter of John Scott of Woll, and therefore granddaughter of Muckle Mou'd Meg. Result :)

    1. What a wonderful find!. Thank you for getting in touch.

  5. I'm trying to trace living ancestors of William Scott 4th Laird of Harden and Agnes Murray "Muckle Mou'ed Meg". I was very interested to read the post from Vivienne Dunstan where she has managed to trace her ancestry back to John Scott of Woll the son of William. I'd love to be able to get a copy of the marriage record for Agnes Scott (John Scott's daughter) and Alexander Veitch of Glenn. Vivienne, could you get in touch please - my email is peterscott302@gmail.com if you prefer to make direct contact. Thanks. Peter Scott

  6. I am trying to trace living ancestors of William Scott 4th Laird of Harden and Agnes Murray. I was very interested to read Vivienne Dunstan's post where she had traced her ancestry back to John Scott of Woll (William Scott's son). I would love to get a copy of the marriage record for Agnes Scott (John Scott's daughter) and Alexander Veitch of Glenn. Vivienne, could you get in touch - my email is peterscott302@gmail.com. Thanks.


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