Ormiston House is marked with (). In the upper right is the village of Denholm.
The name Roxburgh comes from the Old English word "Hroc" meaning
rook and the word "Burgh" from both sides of the border meaning a
fortified place. The original District of Roxburgh was relatively
small (less than 50 miles East to West and even less North to South)
and was squeezed between the English counties of Northumberland and
Cumberland and the Scottish counties of Dumfries, Selkirk and
Berwick with a small corridor reaching through to Mid Lothian.
It was created by David I in 1018 but by the 12th century it was described as being "the fourth in Scotland in population and importance". The town of Roxburgh was a Royal Burgh and had a castle of some importance. Alexander II was married there in 1239 and his son, later to become Alexander III, was born there two years later.
Being a "Border County" of such importance it was fought over for centuries by the Scots and English, first being captured by one side then retaken by the other. It was at one time taken by the English and remained in their possession for 100 years until it was finally recaptured in 1460 by which time the town and castle had been reduced to rubble and were no longer worth fighting over. All that remains today are a few grassy mounds and the village of Roxburgh two or three miles from Kelso. The area was known earlier as Teviotdale; the Teviot being the main river flowing into the Tweed at Roxburgh.
When looking at the history of The District of Roxburgh, one must mention The Border Reivers. They were horsemen, from Scotland and England, who raided the whole of the border, from the Solway Firth to the North Sea, and created an area of such lawlessness and terror that no one was safe from robbery, pillage, rustling, arson and even murder. Much of this was done in the name of revenge between one family or clan and another and some of these feuds went on for 300 years.
In an effort to restore peace, one local noble or another would be appointed by the King to try to keep order and "Marches" (boundaries) were created. This is the origin of the still present habit in border towns, and elsewhere, of Riding the Marches. There were East and West Marches north and south of the border but the whole of Roxburgh was in the Middle March or The Debatable Land where lawlessness persisted for many more years.
There are numerous famous border names but many tend to be families rather than clans as in the Highlands. Those mostly associated with Roxburgh are Armstrong, Douglas, Elliot, Glendinning, Haig, Kerr, Ormiston, Riddell, Rutherford, Scott and Turnbull to name only a few.
Sir Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh in 1771. Soon after he was born, he contracted polio and became lame. His grandfather, Dr. Rutherford, prescribed a move to the country to improve his health. Infant Walter moved to his grandfather Scott's farm at Sandy Knowe, on the River Tweed near Kelso in Roxburghshire. There, he became fascinated with tales and ballads of the old Borders Region. Walter devoted much of his leisure time to the exploration of the Borders country. One of his grandfather's farmhands would often carry young Walter on his shoulders on their sightseeing ventures. His companion's name was Sandy Ormistoun.
In 1822, Scott built a new home in Abbottsford, near the Melrose Abbey in Roxburghshire. Previous to Scott, the site had been a farmhouse, the spot where Mary Queen of Scots officially abdicated her throne. The cost of constructing and maintaining this lovely home bankrupted Scott. He spent his last years writing to get out of debt. The strain of writing ruined his health and he died in 1832. Scott is buried at Dryburgh Abbey eight miles from Melrose.
The district's early prosperity came from cultivating the land and from raising sheep to provide wool for textiles. The main towns include Hawick, Jedburgh, Kelso and Melrose.
(Reference: James Pringle Weavers and John Buchan, Sir Walter Scott, London, 1932)
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