This morning, I collected guest from Edinburgh Airport at 8.00 am and then embarked on a Clan Armstrong themed tour of the Scottish Borders region as summarised below.

The tour lasted about ten hours and was characterised by relatively benign weather for time of year. The day commenced overcast with rain but progressively improved to provide us with superb views of snow-capped hills and rugged scenery during mid-afternoon. In the Borders region, conditions were extremely wet with low level flooding and saturated ground conditions underfoot.

  • First stop was Carlenrig, close to Teviothead. This the site where King James V had Johnnie Armstrong and fifty followers executed by hanging in 1530 in context of an initiative to control the unruly Borders region.

Johnnie Armstrong Memorial at Carlenrig

Johnnie Armstrong Memorial Plaque at Carlenrig Cemetery

Legible transcription of memorial plaque (at Eskdlale Hotel, Langholm.

  • Langholm: Eskdale Hotel and Langholm Castle. We stopped to visit the Clan Armstrong Exhibition in the hotel and availed of some refreshments, following our two-hour drive down from Edinburgh. Here there is information on the Clan and Border Reivers. The information includes a section on Neil Armstrong who visited Langholm and was awarded freedom of the town. The castle remains were in the middle of a waterlogged field occupied by sheep and located between the River Esk and former course of the Ewes Water (river). The castle was built in 1528 by Christopher Armstrong of Banglies but progressively demolished from 1544 onwards The ruins measure just 9.2m in length and 6m in height.

Clan Armstrong Display at Eskdale Hotel, Scottish Borders

Eskdale Hotel, Langholm, Scottish Borders

Langholm Castle, Scotland

Inquisitive sheep at Langholmn

  • Gilnockie Tower, Canonbie. This 16th century tower is the only survivor from around 60-80 stone or wooden towers in the region of Eskdale. Ewesdale and Liddesdale. It is under care of Clan Armstrong due to historic Armstrong connection but interior was not open on day of our visit.

Gilnockie Tower, Canonbie, Scotland

Gilnockie Tower, Canonbie, Scottish Borders

  • Rowanburn: Sandstone sculpture of Lang Sandy.

Lang Sandy at Rowanburn, Scottish Borders

  • Tourneyholm near Kershopefoot. This open site is close to both the English border and River Liddel. This was a site for settling disputes during the Reiver period via combat and/or negotiation.

Tourneyholm on England-Scotland Border

At Tourneyholm, Scottish Borders

Tourneyholm, Scottish Borders.

Liddel Water near Tourneyholm

  • Mangerton Tower.This was residence of the Armstrong chiefs throughout the 16th century. The Tower measures 10.4m from NE to SW by 7.7m transversely over a wall 1.55m thick.The interior is filled with rubble.An armorial panel bears the date 1563 below which is a shield displaying a chevron over a lozenge and a sword flanked by the initials SA and EF.

Armorial Panel at Mangerton Tower

Site of Mangerton Tower, Scottish Borders

At Mangerton Tower, Scottish Borders

  • Ettleton Cemetery and Milnholm Cross These sites are just south of Newcastleton.The cemetery includes a wall where a collection of rescued headstones has been assembled many of which are believed to have Armstrong provenance. The Milnholm Cross was erected to the memory of Alexander, the 2nd Chief of the Armstrong Clan.There is speculation that Alexander was buried under the Cross in 1320.

Here is a video clip taken from vantage point of the cemetery,

Armstrong Wall, Ettleton Cemetery, Scotland

Milnholm Cross looking east over the Liddel Valley

Milnholm Cross, Scottish Borders

Inquisitive sheep at Milnholm Cross

  • Hermitage Castle.This is located 6 miles north of Newcastleton.This formidable fortress was an important power centre during the lawlessness of the Reivers period. The earliest parts of the structure date from mid 13th century. From that time until abandonment in 17th century the castle experienced changes of control, structural enlargement, a siege, murders and a Royal visit (Mary Queen of Scots). It is now a visitor attraction but closed during the winter.

Hermitage Castle, Scottish Borders

Hermitage Castle, Scottish Borders

From Hermitage Castle we progressed in a westerly direction along a very scenic ‘back road’ where we encountered a farmer moving his sheep with aid of Collie sheep dog.

Here are video clips:

Farmer Moving Sheep

Video clip taken from car camera of farmer moving sheep

Hermitage-Fiddleton Back Road

Backroads scenery: Hermitage to Fiddleton

Din Fell near Hermitage

Backroads scenery, Scottish Borders

On the return trip we stopped for late afternoon refreshment at Hawick before moving on to Edinburgh where we duly arrived about 6.00 pm.

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