Now that the horses have been changed we can move on - on past a Hunting Seat of the Scottish Kings.  This is Polmood where another Tweed tributary, Polmood Burn, rushes down between the steep sides of Great Hill and Polmood Hill.

Close by, in the words of Burns: Willie Wastle dwalt on the Tweed, ... The spot they ca'd it Linkumdoddie, ... but nothing to tell you that here must have lived Willie's Wife:

She has an ee, she has but ane
The cat has twa the very colour.
Sic a wife as Willie had
I wad not gie a button for her.

Some five miles from this spot the Tweed turns towards the East and in a little distance passes Drumelzier (pronounced Drumelyer) where Merlin is buried

Near here are the ruins of Tinnis Castle built about the 15th century within the ruins of an iron age fort. The Castle once belonged to the Tweedies who were the Lairds of Drumelzier from the 14th century and is in an unassailable position.

For this reason, no doubt, it was destroyed by Royal Warrant in 1592 but some people believed that it was blown up as a result of a feud. This was a feud between the Flemings of Biggar and the Tweedies which had started in the early part of the 16th century when Lord Fleming was murdered by a Tweedie.

An apocryphal story to account for the name of Tweedie is told and is worth passing on for its sheer audacity.

In an earlier century the Laird of Drumelzier returned from The Crusades to find that his wife had had a fine young son who could not possibly have been his. She explained to him that she had been walking by the Tweed one day when the spirit of that Water appeared and compelled her to yield to his embraces.

The Laird accepted this explanation and the child grew up within the family, acquiring the name of his spirit father. The Tweedies grew into a feared and powerful border family who sustained feuds with families other than the Flemings, as you will hear shortly.

Meantime please consider as you pass this place that there was a time when you would have to have paid a "mail" or toll to as you passed through this land. This was an amusing diversion for the Laird, Sir William Tweedie, until one day he bit off rather more than he had bargained for. Shouting violent threats, he pursued a traveller who had ignored the custom only to find that the man he had been abusing was none other than his liege lord and monarch: James V

You were spared paying a toll at Drumelzier. But now that you are at Dawyck Botanic Gardens (now an outpost of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh), a toll will be extracted if you would like to wander round this arboretum.

dawyck i

Bridge in Dawyck Botanic Gardens

Here in 1650 the first horse chestnuts in Scotland were planted and in 1725 the first larches. Among other specimens, you will find the Dawyck Beech and an impressive assortment of conifers from all over the world.

This is a collection we might take for granted today, but consider that it was put together before a local nursery could supply its needs.

Planting here has been continuous for some three centuries. Much of the early work was done by Sir James Naesmith whose family was one of only three who have owned the estates here for over 600 years. (The gardens were, however, gifted to the Royal Botanic Gardens a few years ago).

Naesmith had studied under the famous Swedish Professor Lynnaeus who, some say, helped in the layout of the gardens. If you recognise the name Lynnaeus, but its association just escapes you, he was the founder of the modern scientific convention for the naming of plants and animals - it is he we have to thank for the Latin names of our plants, a universal botanical language.

But let us return to the previous owners of these lands. These were the Veitches, one of whom was known as "Deil of Dawyck". The Deil (devil) was a man of great strength who acquired the nickname because no one ever survived the thrust of his sword, and it was he who sustained the last of the Border blood-feuds - feuds where a quarrel was constantly renewed as son or kinsman would take upon himself the duty of revenge for the last killing.

A feud between the Lairds of Drumelzier and of Dawyck had been raging for two hundred years when James VI of Scotland (James I of England in 1603) intervened personally to try and end it. His first attempt was unsuccessful and some ten years later he wrote to his Privy Council from his court in England recalling "the great Pains in Our Person, enduring our stay there, and by Our continual direction since that time we do hardly think that there be any one feud except this in all that Kindom unreconciled".

Both families must have paid the price for this feuding, for none has survived


Douglas Gregor