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In recent times Clan Scott Scotland has been much involved with the idea of bringing this ancient building into a modern use of significance beyond Clan Scott. The castle was visited as part of the Homecoming organised by the staff at Bowhill under the patronage and direction of His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch. When we arrived on site we were challenged by a group of defenders of the Castle complete with pikes swords and blunderbusses. Failure to recognise the rallying cry Bellendaine resulted in instant execution by the defenders of Clan Scott rights and privileges.
Following a brief discourse on the Castle we had a demonstration of the firing of one of the ancient gun pieces. We did not enter the building but noted that until fairly recent times a family had rented one wing and we were assured that the inside of the building was sound and potentially able to be re- occupied by residents.
The building sits on a slight rise which gives commanding views across the river lying on the south side of the keep. The oldest part of the building is in the form of a “Peel Tower“. This part of the edifice along with the gate posts are, in local government terms, “A listed”. To those unfamiliar with this terminology the implication is that any alteration of the structure would require permission by the government in effect and every effort has to be made to preserve this ancient structure in its original form. It would be illegal to attempt to bring about any change
The Castle incidentally sits beside the major road the A7 leading from Hawick to England.
Our interest as Clan Scott members apart from the history of the building is that it offers the potential of a Border Clan centre cum educational experience. There has been one meeting of the interested parties within the building and I wish to record my first impressions. Normally on entering any ancient castle one would expect to find a large baronial entrance hall and not too far displaced from the entrance a large dining room or ball room. One envisages a stags head placed high on or near the ceiling with perhaps some old paintings of previous owners. This is not quite what the entrance to Branxholme suggests. Far from it. There is a short stair case leading to the first floor where there are many smallish rooms and none which could be described as baronial. Please do not think I am describing a diminutive structure but the rooms are ideally suited to containing the artefacts of one particular clan. There are several areas with toilets and bathrooms and even a kitchen. If we forget about a museum for Clan purposes it has every potential of encouraging small groups such as for example an art class to rent accommodation for their individual purposes. The stables off the main building would make an ideal series of workshops which could be used to train apprentices in various building and practical skills
One comment made at the first tour of inspection was that with the residential aspect up graded it could lead to an excellent centre for Border tourists either by car cycle or walking. At the end of April there will be another “multi interested parties ” on site discussion.
We will keep you posted.
Roy Scott Secretary Clan Scott Scotland.