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Border Battles and Battlefields.
passive inactivity exclaimed :-"O my brave
countrymen ! what fascination has seized you BY JAMES ROBSON. Author of "Churches and Churchyards of Teviotdale," etc.
to-day, that you stand like deer to be shot, BATTLE OF HOMILDON HILL (Concluded).
instead of indulging your ancient courage, and Fought 14th September, 1402.
meeting your enemies hand to hand? Are we
to be still, and have our hands nailed to our AD Douglas followed the example of Bruce lances ? Let those who will, descend with me,
at Bannockburn, and, with his whole that we may gain victory, or life, or fall like ( force of cavalry, which amounted to about men." Having thus spoken he was about to 1,000, charged the English archers on the gallop down the hill towards the enemy with a plain below, the probability is that the Scots body of horsemen, when a singular event would have swept everything before them. As occurred, which, for the moment, stopped his it was, however, he remained passive; for what progress. It would seem that, for a long time, reason has never yet been sufficiently explained. a deadly feud had existed between Swinton and
Indeed, it is doubtful if he himself, at that moment, realised the gravity of the situation. As one authority aptly--though perbaps rather Alippantly-puts it, he seems to have "lost his head," so unlike the characteristic impetuosity of a Douglas.
An episode, romantic as well as chivalric, took place at this stage. There was need for a spark from the fiery soul of a Wallace or a Bruce to flash across the tardy and irresolute throng, and wake up something of the old enthusiasm which was wont to strike terror into the Southern ranks. A brave knight, Sir John Swinton, deploring the fearful slaughter of his countrymen and their
a Scottish knight, Sir Adam de Gordon. The latter was so deeply moved by the intrepidity and daring of Swinton in thus seeking by his own brilliant example to retrieve the fortunes of the day, that he bowed in submission before him. Gordon threw himself from his horse, and kneeling at the feet of Swinton, begged his forgiveness for the wrong he had cherished against him. He craved also the honour of being knighted on the spot at the hands of so brave a chieftain. Swinton, nothing loath, instantly consented. Dismounting, he conferred upon Gordon the honour he had so earnestly implored and afterwards embraced him. Then the two warriors remounted, and, with their deemed to be the simple deserts of the Scottish followers, forming a body of about a hundred raiders for the havoc they had made in plunderhorse, rushed down the hill. They made a ing their country and robbing their people. desperate attack upon the enemy, slaughtering Earl Douglas was wounded in five different a great number. For a brief moment the places and lost an eye. This proves the deadly English wire slightly confused by the shock. nature of the English shaft, since we are assured But the handful of Scots were no match for the that Douglas's armour was the best that could thousands of steady, well disciplined bowmen, be had, being of the most exquisite workmanship, who, till then, had not a gap in their ranks. and having cost the artisan who made it three
Had Douglas, with his whole body of Scottish years' labour. There were taken prisoners, horse, but followed the example of Swinton and besides Douglas, Lord Murdoch Stewart, and Gordon, and seconded their effort to disperse the Earls of Moray and Angus. The fugitives the English archers by charging unitedly, and as were hotly pursued, many being cut down by one body, the result of that day might have the elated victors. proved less disastrous to themselves by checking The pursuit must have been carried on for a the English advance, if indeed, it had not long distance, as 500 of the Scots, in a vain succeeded in changing defeat into victory. As aitempt to cross the Tweed, were drowned. it was, not being immediately supported by the The nearest point of the river to Homildon Hill general body of Scottish horse, Swinton and is thirteen miles. We can thus imagine the Gordon were slain, and their followers cut down state of those who, having been closely pursued almost to a man.
for over a dozen miles, found themselves obliged After some delay, and not until the Scottish to choose one or other of two alternatives--cavalry had reached a siate of almost hopeless death by the English steel or a watery grave; confusion and disorder, Douglas charged down in either case, a fate too bitter to contemplate. the hill. But alas! it was now too late, The thought of their comrades weltering in their Swinton's charge had already been repulsed by blood on the slopes of Homildon Hill but the English, and those who were not slain were reminded them that if they had escaped one flying in helpless despair from the unequal strife. doom they were now about to encounter another These, mingling with the advancing columns of scarcely less aggravating. Their bodies were Scottish horse, threw the latter into still greater borne rapidly down by the strong current, the confusion. When Douglas advanced, the surface of the stream presenting one dense, English archers, keeping their ranks, fell back moving mass of human bodies. in perfect order towards their own cavalry, all Scotland never was so impotent as on this the while pouring volley after volley upon the occasion. Everything was sacrificed to the idle confused mass of approaching horsemen. The whim of an irresolute and capricious leader. Scottish ranks were being rapidly thinned while The name of Douglas was sullied, for on him the English cavalry, on the height alsove, were alone rests the odium of that day's disaster. fresh, and their ranks unbroken. The latter A large number of the best blood of Scotland had not as yet struck a single blow. They had perished on the field. Amongst them, besides remained eye witnesses of the terrible havoc Swinton and Gordon, were Sir John Levingston which their own archers had made, and it now of Callander, Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalseemed to them as if they had little more to do housie, Sir Roger Gordon, Sir Walter Scott, and than remain mere spectators of the utter rout Sir Walter Sinclair. Murdoch, the next in which now seemed the inevitable fate of the command to Douglas, was, along with the latter, well equipped Scottish horse.'
taken prisoner. Besides these were the Earls of The advance of Douglas was followed by a Athole, Fife, Monteith, and Orkney, the Lords terrible carnage. Before they could reach the Erskine and Montgomery, together with eighty enemy they were reduced to a state of utter knights. On this, as on every other (ccasion, confusion, their action so unconnected as almost when they got full play, the archers committed to neutralize the force of the attack. Their the greatest havoc among the enemy. It has discomfiture was therefore complete before the been asserted, indeed, by some of the best English horse could reach them. Broken and authorities, that the victory was won without a scattered, they flew in all directions. Riderless blow having been struck by the knights or men. steeds tore wildly across the plain. Groans at-arms. and cries of agony sounded strangely as they Sir Henry Percy disgraced the victory by an mingled with the stern command of the English act of cruelty in his treatment of one of the leaders to follow up the fugitives and complete prisoners, a circumstance so closely connected the work of destruction and disgrace, which they with the battle as to warrant a brief notice here.
The district of Teviotdale had remained in the partial possession of the English during the greater part of Edward III.'s reign, and the Percy family had, in consequence, 'acquired large possessions. Subsequently these possessions. had been effectually wrested from them by the bravery of the Douglases. It so happened that, amongst the prisoners, was Sir William Stewart, of Forest, a knight of Teviotdale, who was a mere boy at the time the district became “Anglicised.” Like many others, he had been compelled to own a virtual allegiance to England. He was too young to be able to understand the meaning or obligation involved in such a transaction. On the miserable pretext that he had proved false to his allegiance, Hotspur accused him of treason, and had him tried by a jury. The case against him was so shallow and absurd, that he was acquitted. Percy, however, was not to be thus outdone. Furious at the verdict of the first ju'y he impinelled another who again acquitted him. The old feudal spirit of revenge was aroused. He packed and overawed a third jury, whose sentence condemned Sir William Stewart to die the death of a traitor. He wa immediately executed and his body quartered.
The sanguinary nature of this battle may be gathered from the name “Redriggs," given to the field in which most of the fighting was done. Marking the spot, where it is understood many of the soldiers were buried, is a huge stone, the only memorial of the battle.
(Fodden will appear next month).
was a lonely spot near Aleluyd, the modern Dumbarton, where he was wont to pass thirty or forty days in holy contemplation, and where he finally spent the latter days of his life.
The further history of this early establishment is lost in obscurity, and the next we hear is of the founding of a monastery on the same spot in 1150, the ruins of which, now remain. The members of the convent were canons of the Premonstratensiun or Augustinian order, brought from a recently founded abbey at Alnwick. From the colour of their dress, they were usually called white Canons. They were poor at first, and lived by their labours, but by subsequent benefactions became rich. They passed their lives in religious exercises, cultivating their fields copying books and reading. Their devotions were performed seven times a day. At one they dined in the great hall, during the meal, one of their number reading from the Holy Scriptures, or some other edifying book. They took in turns, the duty of waiting on each other at table. Only two dishes were allowed, except on particular occasions, when another called a pittance, consisting of some sweet or delicate food was added. Those who were late for the meal, without good excuse, had to repeat a Paternoster and Ave Maria, by way of penance, and took their places at the bottom of the least frequented table, no ale or wine being allowed them without permission of the abbot or president. Sheets or linen were not permitted except in cases of sickness, and they all slept in their usual clothes, a practice hardly consistent with the precept that cleanliness is next to Godliness. At the time of hay-making and harvest, they were busy in the fields, but were bound to recite their prayers at the canonical hours.
Edward II. of England on his retur unsuccessful invasion of Scotland set fire to the monastery and razed it to the ground. Tradition says the English were enraged at the convent bells pealing joyfully on their discomfitted departure, and in revenge returned, and committed the sacrilegious deed.
Not many years subsequent to this, certain flagrant disorders arose in the monastery. Strife ending in blows was frequent among the brethren, because of the breach of the rule of their order, regarding the posession of private property, and the admission to holy orders of those who lay under censure. For these offences they had been cut off from communion with the church. To obtain absolution, a pilgrimage to Rome would have been necessary, but the long journey, and the danger of the pilgrims falling into irregularities formed difficulties. These
The Abbeys of the Border.
BY JAMES THOMSON.
NO. III.--DRYBURGH. D HE name Dryburgh seems to be of Pagan
origin, and is supposed to mean the
sacred grove of oaks, or the settle ment of the Druids. This derivation has countenance from the fact of traces of Pagan worship having been discovered on a mound near the ruined abbey, called the Bass Hill, among them an instrument in use for killing the victims in sacrifice.
When the light of Christianity dispelled the gloom of Paganism, a band of missionaries under St. Modan settled at Dryburgh. This holy man was a model of prayersul and austere life. He spent six or seven hours every day in meditation and prayer, and practised severe bodily mortifications. He made frequent ex: cursions to the remoter parts of the province in which he had undertaken to minister, and often reached in his wanderings the banks of the Forth and Clyde. A favourite place of retiral
a feud respecting their right to some of the abbey lands. It was settled by the king's arbitration, after some years, that the Haliburtons should enjoy the lands, but be good servants to the abbot, as were their predecessors. This pacification was sealed by the marriage of the abbot's daughter to Walter, eldest son of David Haliburton. Elizabeth their daughter, being an only child, and her father's heir, the Haliburtons determined she should marry one of her cousins to keep the property in the clan, This did not suit the views of the abbot, who carried off by force the intended bride, and married her to Alexander Erskine, a relation and follower of
From Photo by
Jas. Crichton, Edinburgh. conducted from France two ships, laden with his own. The feud thus revived only ended artillery, military stores, and wines, a present from with the dissolution of the abbey. Inne the Queen of France to the King of Scots. Fire again was a destructive agent at Dryburgh,
A certain James Stewart, formerly a layman, for we read of the English once more destroying was appointed abbot in 1528, by special applica- the town and conventual buildings all but the tion to the Pope, on condition of his joining the church, and taking a great quantity of plunder Augustinian Order. The abbey had suffered with them. In return we find the abbot of much during the Border troubles in the early Dryburgh crossing the Tweed into Northumberpart of the 16th century, and Stewart was con- land, and burning the village of Horncliffe with sidered the fittest man to restore the shattered all the corn in it, till he suffered repulse from fortunes of the convent, repair the fabric of the the garrisons of Norham and Berwick. abbey, and again set up the worship of God The Reformation soon played havoc with as before. Unfortunately between Stewart and Dryburgh and the revenues were annexed to the family of Haliburton of Mertoun, there was the crown in 1587.
There is one story connected with Dryburgh Borderland. Now the vale of Tweed is Abbey told by Sir Walter Scott, which is given practically synonymous with this Borderland. in his own words. Soon after the hapless '45, For many centuries it was the dividing point "an unfortunate female wanderer took up her between two hostile kingdoms now happily one residence in a dark vault among the ruins of in government and in bro:herhood. The very Drvburuh Ibber, which during the dar, she word signifies " that which lies on a boundary," never quitted. When night tell, she issued from and as such it must have been in use long before this miserable habitation, and went to the house the partition of the island into England and of Mr. Haliburton of Newmains, or to that of Scotland. Arising from this barrier-line as a Mr. Erskine of Shiclfield, two gentlemen of natural outcome, were the constantly recurring the neighbourhood. From their charity, she feuds and foravs among the Border clans, the obtained such necessaries, as she could be pre story of which, together with much that may be vailed on to accept. At twelve each night, she of fictitious origin, has been to a large extent lighted her candle, and returned to her vault, preserved in the many-sided baliad literature of assuring her friendly neighbours, that during her the Border country. Added to all this, the men absence, her habitation was arranged by a spirit, and women whose lives were passed by the banks to whom she gave the uncouth name of Fatlips; of Tweed were by no means free from that describing him as a little man, wearing heavy strongly superstitious spirit which characterised iron shoes, with which he trampled the clay the inhabitants of remoter districts. They had a floor of the vault to dispel the damps. This form belief in witchcraft, and in fairy tale. For circumstance caused her to be regarded by the the unseen powers which were supposed to cast well informed with compassion, as deranged in an uncanny glamour around every spot where her understanding; and by the vulgar with some human foot might tread, they had the prodegree of terror. The cause of her adopting foundest awe and reverence. Yet, withal, they this extraordinary mode of life she never would were brave and heroic, possessed of a keen explain. It was, however, believed to have been patriotism, while the kindlier touches were not occasioned by a vow, that during the absence of lacking. But the main feature that has wound a man, to whom she was attached, she would itself around the vale of Tweed is the reigning never again look upon the sun. Her lover never spirit of romance. From source to sea there is returned. He fell during the Civil War of scarcely a single spot on its banks but is laden 1745-6, and she never more would behold the with historic and romantic association. Scottish light of day.”
literature and Scottish history are shrined in the One fact will never be forgotten of Dryburgh : silver Tweed. The Magician of the North has that within the sacred precincts lie the remains waved his wand along every league of its course, of him who brought to lile the historic past in and peopled its windings with the heroes and his incomparable romances, and whose memory heroines who are to-day the priceless possession more than any of the old monastic traditions of all lands. And, as a matter of history, it is makes the abbey a hallowed shrine for the enough to say, that fair Tweedside, blooming modern pilgrim.
under the peaceful sway of Nature, and un( The next and concluding article of the
disturbed by the alarms of war or party strife, series will be Kelso).
has, nevertheless, borne a sad but bold witness to its title of the “battle field of Britain.” If the
castles and “keeps,” most of them in ruins that The Tweed and some of its
frown down on the long stretch of Tweed between Associations.
Berwick and the Beild, could find voice, what By Rev. W. S. CROCKETT, OF TWEEDSMUIR,
a strange tale they might unfold! Every stone Author of " Minstrelsy of the Merse," etc. (FIRST PAPER.)
that may still be held firm in its place by ivy
bands, might add fresh treasure to the nation's Y would be invidious to attempt com- historic pile. For these buildings have been at
parison between the great Scottish rivers the making of history, and without them the most
so far, at least, as their literary and romantic imperishable of Scottish literature would have history is concerned. For Tweed unquestionably remained unwritten. holds the premier place among them. No Away up anong the hills of the Southern river is more redolent of national song and story. Highlands, Tweed first catches the light of day. It has been stated by a competent critic- It is an ideal spot. Nature greets you in her Principal Shairp- that for wealth of romance and sweetest simplicity. You are in a paradise-land legendary lore, no bit of countryside the whole of peace. The smoky city is miles distant. No world over can rival the famous Scottish village looms in sight. But one solitary