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Bellendean Hills, Bellendean Burn and Windylaw Sike Burn, both of which feed into the Ale Water

A Bellendaine Text

Bellendean - the historic location where the Scott clan rallied in times of conflict

The Scott family appear in the early records of Scotland at Scotstoun and Kirkurd near Peebles. There is clear evidence that the Holy Cross Kirk at Peebles was the burial place of the Scott chiefs for many generations. Even as late as 1492, David Scott of Buccleuch, who died at Rankilburn, left instructions in his will that his body should be buried in this Peebles church even though the Scotts had settled further south in the heart of the Scottish Borders.


Sir Richard Scot  was a grandson of Uchtredus Filius Scoti, the first member of the family found in those early Scottish records. Around 1210, Sir Richard, married the daughter and heiress of Murthockstone and thus inherited her estates. Sir Richard was appointed ranger of Ettrick Forest which brought with it the lands of Rankilburn.  Sir Richard built his new home at Buccleuch close to the Rankil Burn. Early titles of  Scott chiefs usually included  the designation "of Rankilburn and Murthockston."


Meantime, Richard's elder brother Michael pursued a career in learning and alchemy - becoming known as "Michael Scott the Wizard" as a result. In the reign of King Alexander III (1249-1286), the Scotts built Buccleuch Castle (sometimes referred to as  a "Manor House" at the junction of the Rankle and Buccleuch burns. (East Buccleuch Farm was built in 1832 on top of the site using stone from the castle).


On 18th June, 1415, land which later became known as "Bellendean" was exchanged for Scott-owned  lands at Glenkerry (on the Tima Water) for Bellendean with the monks of Melrose Abbey. In 1581 or 1582,  a group of Elliots and Armstrongs stole 60 ewes from there, the farm at that time being the property of Dame Margaret Douglas, Countess of Bothwell. This gave rise to a feud between the Scotts and these "neighbours." Bellendean was marked prominently on the map of the whole of Scotland that Robert Gordon drew for Blaeu’s 1654 atlas. Over the years the spelling ranged through ‘Bellendeane’, etc., with ‘Bellingdene’ in about 1250, ‘Bellyndeen’, ‘Bellinden’ and ‘Bellenden’ in 1415 and ‘Belindene’ in 1451; the origin is probably Old English ‘belling denu", meaning ‘the valley with the little hill’. The spelling "Bellendean" has been in use since the 19th century.



Ordinance Survey map of Bellendean area in 1961. Site of Buccleuch Castle was further north/west along the B711 road.

In those violent days it was necessary for landowners to be able to quickly assemble as many of their fighting men as possible - either for defensive purposes or, as was the way in those days, to do a bit of sheep stealing themselves from nearby clans/families (or over the Border in England). The land at Bellendean proved to be suitable for this purpose and became a regular rallying point. So much so that the traditional "war cry" of the Scott family became "A Bellendaine!" or  "To Bellendean!"


Bronze relief on statue of 5th Duke of Buccleuch in Parliament Square, Edinburgh, illustrating the Scotts under the Warden Buccleuch recovering the spoil taken in an English raid.

bellendean Banner Old2

In more recent times the Scott rallying cry  of "A Bellendaine" has been remembered. The "Carterhaugh Ba' game was organised  on 4 December 1815 by Sir Walter Scott, James Hogg and the fourth Duke of Buccleuch, on part of the Bowhill Estate called the Carterhaugh peninsular - between the Ettrick and Yarrow Waters, near Selkirk. It is suggested that , unlike soccer, the ball was picked up and carried and pre-dated the invention of the game of rugby. Around 1,000 men are estimated to have taken part while spectators cheered on the teams from Selkirk and Yarrow. The old "Bellendaine Banner" shown above may have been used at that event.


A modern version of the "Bellendaine Banner"

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