People and Traditions
The Scottish Borders is a region literally teeming with age old traditions and home to some of the world’s great names from literature, art and history.
We have included many of them on Discover the Borders and others will, no doubt, be knocking on the door to take their place among our pages in the future.
Historically the Borders has won the patronage of Kings and Queens down the ages – and suffered terribly at the hands of others - notably Edward I and Henry VIII.
The date no one can forget in the Borders is 1513 – the Battle of Flodden – that claimed the lives of over 10,000 scots and today is inextricably linked to the famous Common Ridings. The ridings take place each year in many Border towns when the boundaries are ceremoniously marked out by hundreds on horseback.
Royal connections, of one sort or another, have served to bequeath a rich heritage to the visitor appeal of this unique and beautiful part of Scotland. It abounds with castles, stately homes and places of interest set amid magnificent countryside .
The Borders is also ancestral home to the Dukes of Buccleuch. Legend has it the name Buccleuch came about when a member of the Scott family seized a cornered buck by the antlers and threw it over his shoulder as it charged a royal party. The incident happened in a ‘cleuch’ or ravine hence Buck-cleuch and then Buccleuch.
In the mid 16th-century Ettrick Forest and surrounding lands, originally bequeathed to the Douglas family in 1322 by a grateful Robert the Bruce, was largely in the hands of the Scott family. The old Douglas connection was restored by a marriage between the two families in 1720.
Another marriage, this time that of James, Duke of Monmouth, son of King Charles II to the Scott heiress, Anne Countess of Buccleuch in 1673, established the present day titles when they were invested as Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch by royal decree.
The Borders famous sons and daughters include the novelist Sir Walter Scott whose magnificent home at Abbotsford, a temple to the Scottish tradition, lies midway between the border towns of Melrose and Galashiels.
Mary Sommerville of Jedburgh excelled in scientific research (and breaking glass ceilings) was the first woman to present a paper to the Royal Society and had Sommerville College, Oxford named in her memory.
James Hutton a farmer from Duns is known as the ‘founding father of modern geology.’ Hutton’s ‘unconformity’ just outside Jedburgh underpinned his theory on how the world was formed and is one of the most significant geological sites in the world.
Check out the Borders ‘sons of speed’, Jimmy Guthrie and Steve Hislop who became superstars on the motorcycling circuit, and Jim Clark who was a revered Formula One world champion. All have superb commemorative exhibitions in local museums.
And this is just a snapshot of the people of traditions of the Borders. You’ll find others in the pages of Discover the Borders and a whole lot more waiting when you pay us a visit.