International get together for Clan Scott
The pipes are calling and across the world a tartan army is stirring and on the move, completing preparations for a friendly invasion of the ‘auld' country.
Legions of ex-pat Scots and those who proudly lay claim to Scottish ancestry are expected to take up the Homecoming Scotland invitation and make 2009 the year they returned to their roots.
For the organisers of this national initiative it is a case of the more the merrier. Many visitors will be setting their sat-navs for the town of Selkirk in the Borders to be part of the first international gathering of Clan Scott, which is to take place at Bowhill, the ancestral home of the Buccleuch family.
Waiting to welcome them to four days of festivities, in his capacity as clan chief, will be Richard, 10th Duke of Buccleuch, a family name that is inherently and pre-eminently interwoven with the history of the Borders and beyond.
The first written record of an ancestor of the present Scotts of Buccleuch is a 12th-century reference to a Scott living at Kirkurd in Peebleshire whose forebears are thought to have come from Galloway - the first known base of the Scott clan.
The Scotts flourished, acquiring large tracts of land between the rivers Teviot and Yarrow and acted as Rangers in the region, a favourite hunting ground for the Kings of Scotland.
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.
Throughout Scotland's turbulent history, Clan Scott and Buccleuch are names that have helped shape the country's destiny.
Whether carefully recorded in the most historic of documents or found leaping from the pages of a Nigel Tranter novel this is a family associated with a reputation for courage and leadership.
It is these qualities, allied with kinship, that Duke Richard believes is the very essence of Clan Scott. "I think kinship is very important and in the context of the clan it is absolutely fundamental. There is a natural tendency for those with the same name to want to link together and that is something I have become more aware of when I meet ex-pat Scots.
"In the USA, for example, Clan Scott is growing healthily, as more people want to re-inforce connections with their family roots. I am sure quite a few will be attending the gathering in September from North America and hopefully from New Zealand and Australia, too.
"It is my view that our clan ethic is a reflection of the uniqueness of the Borders. It is different to the approach adopted by the Highland clans. Attitudes here are very straightforward and the emphasis is more on equality and kinship than on the clan chief as the superior of the group.
"Clan Scott came into its own in the 15th and 16th centuries based on a common sense need to protect land and stock in very lawless times. The growth of the Scott's influence was earned by leadership and acts of honour, episodes that have forged a bond that is still apparent today in our towns and communities.
"Borderers are notoriously independent and passionate about their traditions and their achievements. The Common Ridings are a good example as is the pride people take with the region's association with Sir Walter Scott who was a frequent visitor to Bowhill.
"I believe it is extremely important that we pass this common identity and sense of pride down to future generations, and Clan Scott provides a perfect focal point for that aspiration," said Duke Richard.
At Bowhill in September a packed programme of sports and entertainment is being organised. It includes demonstrations of horsemanship, archery, a re-enactment of the Carterhaugh Ba' Game (a celebrated football match organised by Sir Walter Scott on December 5th 1815 between the rival teams of Selkirk and Yarrow) and a perfomance of ‘The Minstrel an d the Shirra,' a play about Sir Walter Scott in the Bowhill theatre.