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Roxburghshire

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A landlocked county in the heart of the Scottish Borders, Roxburghshire is bounded by Berwickshire to the east, Selkirkshire and Midlothian to the north, Dumfriesshire to the west, and England to the south.    Roxburgh, the town from which the county takes its name, has long since disappeared, but in the 12th century it was one of David I's four royal burghs (the others were Edinburgh, Stirling and Berwick-on-Tweed) and its castle was a royal residence, King Alexander III being born there.  By the mid 13th century the town was reckoned to be the fourth largest and most important in the kingdom.  However, the town suffered badly during the Anglo-Scottish wars, and its castle was frequently occupied by English troops.  Somewhat shamefully, it was in Roxburgh Castle in 1356 that the puppet king Edward Balliol virtually sold his kingdom to Edward III of England for a lump sum and a pension.  The castle then spent 100 years under English control until being retaken by the Scots in 1460.  During that siege, however, King James II was killed by an exploding cannon, and after taking the castle the Scots reduced it to rubble to ensure that it never again became a place of strife between the nations.  Nothing now remains of either town or castle, although there is a village of Roxburgh some two miles away.

In the south of the county, in a bleak and lonely position in Liddesdale, stands grim Hermitage Castle.  The de Soulis family built the original castle here in the 13th century and by doing so managed to spark off an international incident on the grounds that the castle would be a constant menace to England. One de Soulis man was believed to dabble in witchcraft and, legend has it, was eventually captured by the local people, wrapped in lead, and boiled in a cauldron.  The castle later passed by marriage to the Douglas family and it was here that Sir William Douglas, curiously referred to as "The Flower of Chivalry", imprisoned and starved to death the unfortunate Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie who had been captured while praying in Hawick.   A trickle of grain from a granary above Sir Alexander's cell managed to prolong the poor man's agony for 17 days.  In the 16th century the castle was owned by the Hepburn Earls of Bothwell - James, the 4th Earl, was the infamous lover of Mary Queen of Scots and in 1566, when James was ill, Mary rode 25 miles from Jedburgh to visit him, stayed at the castle for two hours, and then rode back again, a feat which cost her a 10-day fever. Later Mary married James, but it is not known why the unhappy queen's ghost today haunts the castle's ruins.

Roxburghshire is also famous for its Abbeys, Melrose, Kelso and Jedburgh.  When Robert the Bruce's heart was brought back from Spain, it was, in accordance with his wishes, buried at Melrose Abbey, where it was recently rediscovered in a lead casket.  Kelso was probably the largest of the Border Abbeys, and Jedburgh, though smaller than the other two, is today probably the most impressive.  All were repeatedly plundered and damaged during the Anglo-Scottish wars and none recovered from the devastation meted out by the Earl of Hertford's English troops in 1544/5 during the "Rough Wooing" when Henry VIII, infuriated by Scotland's cancellation of the betrothal of Henry's infant son Edward to the 6-month old Mary Queen of Scots, reacted by ravaging the Borders.  Kelso Abbey offered stout resistance, its defenders eventually being driven into one of the towers where they were massacred to a man.

The county's largest town is Hawick.   In 1514, shortly after the flower of Scotland's manhood had been wiped out at the disastrous Battle of Flodden, a band of local youths or "callants" surprised and virtually wiped out an English raiding force, capturing their banner, the "Hexham Pennant".  The event is commemmorated both by a vigorous equestrian statue in the town and by the annual Hawick Common Riding Festival.  However, like its neighbours Hawick was devastated during the Rough Wooing when the town was fired by the English troops.  The only building to survive the conflagration was Drumlanrigs Tower, now a museum.

On a more peaceful note, three centuries later Sir Walter Scott, author, poet, and lawyer, had his home at Abbotsford, just outside Melrose.

Family names associated with Roxburghshire include Kerr, Scott, Douglas, Turnbull, Eliott, Rutherford, Haig and Hepburn.

Our map of Roxburghshire measures 13 x 13 inches (330 x 332 mm) when stitched on the supplied 27-count Linda evenweave material and has 19 buildings, place names, compass and crest.  Thirty shades of Anchor stranded cotton are included and the stitch count is 176 x 175.

Kit 27.50 UK pounds
Chartpack 13.50 UK pounds

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