There is a strong Christian heritage in the Borders and the physical manifestation of the spiritual aspirations of the region can be seen clearly in The Border Abbeys and various churches of the region. The Tweed river system was chosen as foundation for these impressive medieval monuments and provided centres of learning for the modernising Scottish state. The tight control of land through the feudal system developed commerce across the region and this was inextricably linked to the powerful Church of the day.
In St Giles Cathedral on 23rd July, 1637, Jenny Geddes, known to us for nothing else, struck the first blow for The Covenant* when she hurled her stool at the pulpit. There, Dean Hannay was reading for the first time from the Book of Common Prayer, introduced to the Church in Scotland by Charles I. This was an opportunity to reject the Bishops who had been imposed on the Church in Scotland thirty years earlier by James VI - a nest of hornets had been disturbed.
It is believed that gypsies first appeared in Scotland in the late Middle Ages. The common belief for centuries was that they hailed from Egypt, hence the name; this appeared to be confirmed by leaders taking the title of “Lord and Erle of Littil Egypt”. They traversed the countryside in tribes or clans courting trouble by emptying burns of fish, stealing eggs, animals and clothing, and occasionally, children.
The Hawkshaw Castle site was surveyed by the Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historical Monuments for Scotland (RCAHMS) in June 1960. The site is one of nearly 700 sites recorded in the Register for Peeblesshire. The survey was carried out before the construction of the Fruid Reservoir. The report of the survey of the Hawkshaw site. No 509 follows:-
That the Upper Tweed valley had been the route of a Pilgrims Way is evidenced by the site of what must have been an imposing way marker on the Dumfriesshire border at the south end of the parish. For more about this see the Tweeds Cross page. This cross was beside what was known as the Old Edinburgh Road. There was a probable cross/way marker at the site of the Crook Inn that gave the Inn its name see origins of Crook name page. There would also have been a way marker at the ford over the River Tweed at the Tweedsmuir Kirk Mound (Chapel Knowe) site.
PRIOR to 1643 Tweedsmuir was part of Drumelzier Parish and was sometimes known as Over (or Upper) Drumelzier. The reason for the splitting off is uncertain, perhaps the distances involved in those days of travel on foot and by horse. The decision to found the new parish was made in 1643 and in the following year Mr Alexander Trotter from the Isle of Barra was appointed as minister.
The Neidpath Castle visitor's brochure (2002) mentions the following - "The north side of the existing drive has a fine avenue of yew trees planted in 1654. The variety known as Taxus Baccata Neidpathensis is virtually unique to Neidpath. Differing from the common yew only in its steeply ascending branches and short rather dense leafage. It is probable that the trees were acquired from a continental nursery."
The countryside of the Scottish Borders, and more particularly that of Peeblesshire, famed for its beauty and the friendliness of its people, has an enduring appeal for tourists from all over the world. However, although the landscape has certainly been appreciated for hundreds of years, in times past, enjoyment of it would have been curtailed by the colourful, treacherous characters who chose to dwell there. Stories of local feuds, battles, and murders abound, with the area itself in dispute for more than two thousand years.