Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Auld Wat of Harden

Cattle graze peacefully in this picture I took last Sunday of Kirkhope Tower in the Ettrick Valley. But it was not always thus. Kirkhope was the home of 'Auld Wat of Harden' one of the most notorious and colourful of the Border Reivers. In 1597 he led a raid on Bellingham in Northumberland with three hundred men and came back with four hundred head of cattle. The Scotts have always dominated the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys and Bowhill, residence of the (Scott) Duke of Buccleuch lies just a few miles down the valley, not far from Abbotsford House, famously home of Auld Wat's descendant, the novelist Sir Walter Scott.

'Not really a castle though, is it?', someone said. In fact these tower houses were the style of the time for landowners throughout Scotland: economical to build, one big room on each floor and high enough so that a fire on the battlements could be seen by the next tower up the valley and so pass the warning if a raid was coming up from the other direction.

Ironically it may be Auld Wat's wife that has left us the best story from Kirkhope. She was Mary Scott of Dryhope (below) known as the 'Flower of Yarrow', and when the larder was bare, she would just put Auld Wat's spurs on a plate and set it in front of him at dinner time!


1 comment:

historylover said...

Well that was an interesting story.