24 August 2017

The next Elliot Clan gathering at Redheugh in Scotland - put this in your diaries and start planning to be there!

Address by the Clan Chief at the Tullie House Museum Carlisle

TULLIE HOUSE MUSEUM, Carlisle 

1st April 2011.  Speech made by Margaret Eliott launching the new permanent Reivers Exhibition.

I am an Eliott – the 29th Chief of the Elliots to be exact, and you have been very kind to invite me here to Carlisle. I have a feeling that in the 15th & 16th centuries you would not have made me so welcome. I live in Liddesdale on the site of the great Eliott pele tower – luckily now a farmhouse – rebuilt from the old stones of the original building. History sits heavy in Liddesdale, as it does all across the Borderlands. We sit on a bluff of the river overlooking the old ford on the road running up to Hermitage Castle (another link) five miles away – a mile away is the dramatic site of Liddel Castle by Castleton Cemetery. The valley is now home to some 1000 souls, but in Reivers time the population was threefold. All over the hills are signs of long abandoned bothys and fields.

Seen from the fat pasturelands of the Eden valley, the Cheviot hills and Liddesdale, Ewesdale and the notorious Debatable Lands must have been regarded rather as the Hole in the Wall Gang was regarded by the respectable people of Wyoming - full of desperate, unstable and violent men bent on stealing your cattle and sheep, never allowing you a peaceful night’s sleep and thoroughly disruptive. While I am sympathetic, I would like to give you a view from the other side!

Sandwiched between two hostile nations, the Borders was a useful buffer zone –  I don’t think we can call it a demilitarized zone – the Reivers would have delighted in that phrase – as they were all armed to the teeth! The towns of Kelso, Hawick and Jedburgh were easy targets for an English foray, and one of the ways through was up the Liddel valley. Because of this – there were years of ruined harvests and the stock was taken by the invaders. Such problems produced desperate men, and so the Reiver’s way of life became the norm.

The Borderers were never quite Scottish or English. Indeed they are of the same stock, and they used the political situation to their own advantage, if they possibly could, changing sides when it suited them, infuriating each monarch in turn, so are we surprised when James VI & 1st tried to turn us into Middle England and hanged Johnnie Armstrong? Memory of that outrage came back to haunt his Stuart descendant, Bonnie Prince Charlie, when he tried to recruit Borderers on his march south through Liddesdale.

But I cannot come to Carlisle and not mention Kinmont Willie (William Armstrong of Kinmont). This thoroughly notorious reiver was taken on a Day of Truce and brought bound and gagged to Carlisle Castle. This was against all the rules of cross-border law, and Buccleuch and his supporters were in a fit of righteous indignation – the words 'righteous indignation' and Border reivers are not natural bedfellows. Although the river was in full flood, they crossed the river and, with the help of the Grahams, sprung Kinmont Willie with a great deal of noise and kerfuffle and swam back again with their prize. The resultant backlash from a mortified Lord Scrope, Warden of the English March, was terrible. He led an army of 2000 men into Liddesdale, burnt the houses, and stripped sixty or eighty children of their clothes. It was reported that  nine or ten infants perished within eight days thereafter.

After a great deal of pressure from Elizabeth 1, James VI finally bound over Buccleuch to Sir Robert Carey, who held him under lock and key for a time in Northumberland. Apparently they got on rather well, and his influence on Buccleuch changed his ways. He was canny enough  to realise that there was little future in the reiver way of life when James VI inherited. There is a good story that, when he was eventually presented to Elizabeth 1st at the English Court, and she demanded to know how he dared to storm her castle, his response was: “Madam, what is there …that a brave man may not dare?”. She seemed delighted with this remark and turned to her court exclaiming: “Give me a thousand such men, and I will shake the thrones of Europe”.

Today, the descendants of those resourceful Reivers still live and work along the Border line. The Elliots, Grahams, Scotts, Kerrs, Humes and others are still about, and there are thousands of Borderers that have spread themselves around the world. We hold a Gathering for Elliots from around the world every four years (the next one will be in 2013), and we celebrate the lives of our forefathers, the Border Reivers. Indeed, I have sent many of my visitors into this Museum to watch the atmospheric audio-visual display, but always with a warning – “take no notice of that bishop’s rubbishy curse” – like water off a duck’s back, it made not a wit of difference.

Also, descendants of those fighting men of old proved to be fierce and brave fighting men during the two world wars. George Macdonald-Fraser, who knew the Borders and the Borderers like no other, wrote a book about serving in Burma with the Border Regiment, demonstrating the Cumbrians extraordinary bravery and gallows humour. It was ironically entitled Quartered Safe Out Here, and the strong gene of the boldness of the Reivers comes out very forcefully.

But, while we celebrate every four years, this excellent exhibition celebrates their history permanently, bringing the Reivers alive again in such an effective way and making us very thankful that we were born into a peaceful Borderland.

 

TULLIE HOUSE MUSEUM, Carlisle 

 1st April 2011.  Speech made by Margaret Eliott launching the new Reivers Exhibition.

Ladies & Gentleman

I am an Eliott.   The 29th Chief of the Elliots to be exact and you have been kind enough to invite me here to Carlisle.    I have a feeling that in the 15th & 16th Century you would not have made me so welcome. I live in Liddesdale on the site of the great Eliott pele tower – luckily now a farmhouse – rebuilt from the old stones of the original building.     History sits heavy in Liddesdale as it does  all across the Borderlands.    We sit on a bluff of the river overlooking the old ford on the road running up to Hermitage Castle five miles away – a mile away is the dramatic site of Liddel Castle by Castleton Cemetery.    The valley is now home to some 1000 souls but in Reivers time the population was threefold.   All over the hills are signs of long abandoned bothys and fields.

Seen from the fat pasturelands of the Eden valley, the Cheviot hills and Liddesdale, Ewesdale and the notorious Debateable Lands must have  been regarded rather as the Hole in the Wall Gang was regarded by the respectable people of Wyoming - full of desperate, unstable and violent men bent on stealing your cattle and sheep, never allowing you a peaceful night’s sleep and thoroughly  disruptive.   While I am sympathetic, I would like to give you a view from the other side!

Sandwiched between two hostile nations the Borders was a useful buffer zone –  I don’t think we can call it a demilitarized zone – the Reivers would have delighted in that phrase – as they were all armed to the teeth!    The towns of Kelso, Hawick and Jedburgh were easy targets for an English foray and one of the ways through was up the Liddel valley.    Because of this – there were years of ruined harvests and the  stock was taken by the invaders.    Such problems produced desperate men and so the Reiver’s way of life became the norm.

The Borderers were never quite Scottish or English.    Indeed they are of the same stock and they used the political situation  to their own advantage, if they possibly could   Changing sides when it suited them, infuriating each monarch in turn so are we surprised  when James VI & 1st  tried to turn us into Middle England and hung Johnnie Armstrong?   Although memory of that outrage came back to haunt his Stuart descendant, Bonnie Prince Charlie, when he tried to recruit Borderers on his march south through Liddesdale.

But I cannot come to Carlisle and not mention Kinmont Willie.    This thoroughly notorious reiver was taken on a Day of Truce and brought bound and gagged to Carlisle Castle.   This was against all the rules of cross border law and Buccleuch and his supporters in a fit of righteous indignation – (the words righteous indignation and Border reivers are not natural bedfellows).  Although the river was in full flood they crossed the river and  with the help of the Grahams, sprung Kinmont Willie with a great deal of noise and kerfuffle and swam back again with their prize.    The resultant backlash from a mortified Lord Scrope, Warden of the English March  was terrible.   He led an army of 2000 men into Liddesdale  burnt the houses and stripped sixty or eighty children of their clothes – it was reported that  nine or ten infants perished within eight days thereafter.

After a great deal of pressure from Elizabeth 1, James VI finally bound over Buccleuch to Sir Robert Carey who held him under lock and key for a time in Northumberland.   Apparently they got on rather well and his influence on Buccleuch changed his ways and he was canny enough  to realise that there was little future in the reiver way of life when James VI inherited.   There is a good story that  when he was  eventually presented to Elizabeth 1st  at the English Court and  she demanded to know how he dared to storm her castle.  His response was “Madam, what is there …that a brave man may not dare?”.    She seemed delighted with this remark and turned to her court exclaiming “Give me a thousand such men and I will shake the thrones of Europe”. 

Today the descendants of those resourceful reivers still live and work along the Border line.  The Elliots, Grahams, Scotts,  Kerrs, Humes and others are still about and there are thousands of Borderers that have spread themselves around the world.    We hold a Gathering for Elliots from around the world every four years and we celebrate the lives of our forefathers, the Border Reivers.    Indeed I have sent many of my visitors into this Museum to watch the atmospheric audio-visual display but always with a warning – “take no notice of that bishop’s rubbishy curse” – like water off a duck’s back – it made not a wit of difference.

Also descendants of those fighting men of old proved to be fierce and brave fighting men during the two world wars.   George Macdonald-Fraser who knew the Borders and the Borderers  like no other – wrote a book about serving in Burma with the Border Regiment demonstrating the Cumbrians extraordinary bravery and gallows humour – it was ironically entitled Quartered Safe Out Here and the strong gene of the boldness of the reivers comes out very forcefully.

But as we celebrate every four years, this excellent exhibition celebrates their history permanently,  bringing the Reivers alive again in such an effective way and making us very thankful  that we were born into  a peaceful Borderland.

Elliot Crest

Boldly and Rightly

Clan Chief

Clan Chief Margaret Eliott
Chief Margaret Eliott
Margaret of Redheugh
Newcastleton
Roxburghshire TD9 0SB
Scotland

Collie Gathering

14 October 2017 - the inaugural gathering of the Elliot Clan in Australia.

Click here to go to the website for the latest information.

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Book for Sale

The society has copies of the book "Clan", by David P. Elliot for sale for $18. If you would like to order it, please send us an email.

bookclancover150

The story draws heavily on the Clan system in Scotland in a very turbulent period in The Borders. It includes both contemporary and historical information which will interest those who enjoy supernatural or historical or thriller genres.

David Elliot is 57, frustrated, out of work and has three failed marriages behind him. In 2007 he goes to the Borders of Scotland hoping that his ancestry will help him find some validation of his life. Accompanied by his daughter, son-in-law and his grandson Thomas, he finds that his bloodline leads his family into terrifying danger. 700 years of history threaten those he holds dearest, as myth and reality of “The Bloodiest Valley in Britain” combine.

The corruption of the rich and powerful meets legend as Good and Evil clash over the ancient Throne of Scotland and power in the modern world. William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, Border Reivers, creatures of supernatural horror and past heroes of the Elliot Clan are all involved, as the evil Lord William de Soulis actions his plan to assume power over an unsuspecting world.

All that stands against him is a family fighting desperately to protect a child. Their only weapon is their love of family… the power of their Clan.

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