Sunday, 13 September 2009

Murder, Violence, Treachery, Arson - and More!

The river Tweed runs through the Scottish Borders down to Berwick on Tweed. Once the most disputed border town in the UK. Berwick on Tweed is, officially, and English town. Its football team is, however, in the Scottish league!

The Tweed is a favourite river for anglers. They pay a licence fee to fish for salmon in this majestic river which meanders, and sometimes rushes, through the Borders including the town of Kelso.

Six miles from Kelso is the small village of Smailholm. Today I left my car and climbed to where 'The Tower House' of Smailholm still guards the surrounding area.

It's a steep climb and by the time I enter the tower I needed a short rest.

I did not fancy the further climb up the steep winding stone staircases to the very top. I've been there, done that - but still haven't got the tee-shirt!

For 300 years Scottish and English borderers endured violence, treachery, murder, arson, raiding and robbery. They lived in constant fear and often misery and squalor. The stories of the 'REIVERS' are many and varied. Bloody reminders of those fearful days.

Built in the 1500s this stone fortress in Smailholm housed people who were always vigilant and ready to repel the dreaded Reivers.

Smailholm Tower originally housed the Pringles and later the Scotts, two well established Scottish family names. Today it is a well-restored attraction and owned by Scottish Borders Council; open all the year round.

There were many of these tall tower houses in those violent and lawless days. Most of them have been demolished over the years but a number remain and tourists and visitors seek out those that still survive.


Lynn said...

After peacefully working my honeybees for the past hour, I came in to find yet another lovely video from you. 2 minutes and 33 seconds is not nearly long enough. I could listen to you all day. Thanks :)

Angelina said...


Beautiful travel log, now I am intrigued. My husband is from Scotland and we have plans to visit sometime after he publishes his book.

BTW Were you able to sort out the "link" problem?

Monkey Man said...

Here in the Pacific Northwest region of the US we, too, are know for our salmon fishing. But have no where near the wonderful historic structures you have on the Scottish borders. Funny, as I was watching your video, I kept expecting to see John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle and crew creeping along the outer Tower walls. As usual an entertaining and informative post.

Argent said...

Educational words, inspirational pictures - who could ask for more? Me, for one: more please! These mini excursions are a real joy.

DUTA said...

I was just thinking on writing a post on Albinoni's Adagio, when I opened your video and here it is ,as background music to your tale of Smailholm Tower and the surrounding area.

The music and your british accent add a lot of charm to the presentation of the interesting story.

PhilipH said...

Lynn: Thank you. I hope your 'girls' are keeping fit and well still.

Angelina: Good fortune to your husband with his book. I am afraid I cannot crack the link thingy yet. Maybe my google blog settings are wrong. Still, I'll keep trying.

Hi MM. Yes, I realise I was being a bit nationalistic when I praised the river Tweed and its salmon fishing. Never mind. As for your expectations of seeing Monty Python's Flying Circus mob at Smailholm ... well, what an imagination you must have!

Argent (Silver) - You're too generous, but thank you so much.

Duta: I like many musical forms but adagio's fit my temperament in many ways. I love Barber's Adagio for Strings as well. There are many others and they fit nicely to so many scenes on film and tv.

Brenda said...

Hi Philip. My husband and I enjoyed your video. He was trying to guess the background music -- thought it was a movement from Grieg's Holberg Suite at first -- but then the Adagio was identified. (He's been away from regular listening to the classics for too long.) Anyway, your posts are much appreciated.

PhilipH said...

Brenda, thank you for your kind comment. Duta identified the adagio - which I guess you noticed.

Most relaxing music imo.

nollyposh said...

Thankyou so much Phillip for that lovely tour... i so miss this sort of history as we have so little of it here in Australia x

PhilipH said...

G'day NollyPosh, or should I say 'Sheila'? No, I should not!

Two of our oldest friends and their children emigrated to Aussie about 25 years ago - both Essex born and bred. They have done marvellously well and prospered down under. They've been back to the UK about three times for a month or so just for a holiday. They love it in Oz.

My wife and I considered becoming Ten Pound Poms in 1960-ish but the prospect of living for an unspecified period in one of the then 'transit camps' rather scared me off. Faint-hearted perhaps, but that's life.

Sandy aka Doris the Great said...

Thank you for your kind comments on my blog. It's interesting to read the blogs from our neighbours "across the pond" as so often, place names have been carried across. One of my favorite places in Nova Scotia is Berwick -- known as "The Apple Capital of Canada".

Barry said...

Very interesting post, Phillip. I haven't spent much time in the borders area, since my family come from Port Gordon, much further North.

I loved the video. It was great to hear your voice. Was the lone man at the end, skipping across the field, the last of the dreaded REIVERS??

PhilipH said...

Sandy: How nice to see you. So you too have a Berwick eh? Small world, innit?

Barry: Hope you are feeling good today. What about the bio tests, last Tuesday?

The lone walker striding out at Smailholm Tower was probably lost! Certainly we've not had any Reivers around any more, though like everywhere else there are modern day bar stewards robbing and conning people still. Ho hum, nothing changes.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if in-between places are always harsh.

The Bug said...

Very much enjoyed the video - I agree that it could go on longer & I'd be perfectly content... All that green & your soothing voice (like many Americans I love the sound of a British accent)...

the walking man said...

I had to look up a bit about the Reivers and the time of them. Seems that either they were an offshoot of the clan structure or they solidified that structure of fidelity.

What I find a bit odd though is it appears that the keeps built for defense were basically for the individual and their immediate families. I wonder why no towns grew up right there?

*shrug* another bit of knowledge you brought my way Philip. Thank you for it too.

nollyposh said...

Lol! Phillip well you would still be welcome here down under X;-)

Land of shimp said...

That was wonderful, Philip. I've studied the history between Scotland and England, as well as between the clans, but only in a cursory manner so I'm far from an expert.

The stories that come out of the skirmishes! Oh my goodness, they were terrifying, brutal times. When they weren't busy repelling attacks on the border, the Scottish clans have something of a history of infighting, as well as fighting with other clans.

I can never understand when people say they find history boring!

Thank you for the lovely video :-)

Philip, are you trying to do an embedded link? The code is different on the blogs, instead of being (I'm putting in spaces so it won't be interpreted as html code) < url= insert code > title of link < / url >

The code starts with an < a (I know, what the...?) Anyway, here's the start of the code (again with spaces added but only in front of the a, the space between the a and href exists) < a href="http addy" > title of link < /a >

Now if that wasn't the kind of link you were trying to do? I've just spectacularly wasted your time ;-) but if you were trying to link within a post to another Url, that's how you do it.

It drove me nuts at first, because I do know most html tags, and most of them match up here. The link code just turned out to be slightly different.

Land of shimp said...

Also, the quotation marks I used around the http? Those exist. "http: etc" surround your http copied link with quotation marks.

Yeah, I've got no clue why it works that way. It was the quotation marks that were driving me buggy for a while.

PhilipH said...

Mark. Yes, it does appear to be as you say: a family household would be the occupiers. Some tower houses did become small towns, like the Greenowe tower in Gordon.

Nollyposh: Thanks. I'll drop in for a cuppa when I get there; but not tomorrow I'm afraid.

Alane: Thank you for the linking quest. I think I've cracked it now via a differnt way but I shall try your code too. Blogger has an 'old' version which I'm on and a new version, which I've tried. The new version does not seem to have a video upload image so I'm sticking with the devil I (sorta) know.