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Branxholme Castle

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2016.

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Branxholm, a mansion, formerly a feudal castle, in Hawick parish, Roxburghshire, in the valley of the Teviot, 3 miles SW of Hawick town. One-half of the ancient barony connected with it came into possession of the Scotts of Buccleuch in the reign of James I., the other half in that of James II. The feudal castle was of various dates, underwent great vicissitudes, and figures in traditions, tales, and ballads enough to fill a volume. ` Only a very small part of the original building remains; it is a large, strong house, old, but not ancient in its appearance '-so Dorothy Wordsworth described in 1803 the present edifice, which yet retains one old square corner tower of enormous strength-and which has for upwards of a century been the residence of the Duke of Buccleuch's chamberlain. Its site is a gentle eminence not far from the river, at a narrow sudden curve of the glen, in full command of all the approach above and below. The ancient castle was burned in 1532 by the Earl of Northumberland; was blown up with gunpowder in 1570, during the Earl of Surrey's invasion; and was rebuilt in 1571-74, partly by the Sir Walter Scott of that period, partly by his widow. It was long the residence of the Scotts, the master-fort of a great surrounding district, the keep of Upper Teviotdale, the key of the pass between the Tweed basin and Cumberland, the centre of princely Border power, the scene of high baronial festivity, and the focus of fierce, hereditary, feudal warfare. Most of its proprietors, in their successive times, till the close of the conflicts between Scotland and England, kept so large a body of armed retainers, and rode out with them so often across the frontier, as not only well to hold their own within Scotland but to enrich themselves with English spoil. How vividly does the great modern bard of their name and clan describe ` the nine-and-twenty knights of fame, who ` hung their shields in Branxholm Hall, ' their stalwart followers in the foray, their gay attendance at the banquet, and their stern discipline and rigid ward, in maintaining one-third of their force in constant readiness to spring upon the prey-

'Ten of them were sheathed in steel
With belted sword and spur on heel;
They quitted not their harness bright
Neither by day nor yet by night.
Ten squires. ten yeomen. mail-clad men.
Waited the beck of the warders ten.
Thirty steeds both fleet and wight.
Stood saddled in stable day and night,
Barbed with frontlet of steel. I trow,
And with Jedwood axe at saddle bow;
A hundred more fed free in stall:
Such was the custom of Branxholm Hall.'

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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