TWEEDSMUIR PARISH HISTORY. 

 Crown of Scotland  including Ericstanebrae.

  At the southern end of Tweedsmuir Parish bordering the Devil’s Beeftub there is an insignificant small hill known by the rather grand name of Crown of Scotland - a name that nobody has been able to properly explain.  Even Captain Armstrong in 1775 (1) when writing about the adjacent Tweeds Cross had no explanation commented "for what reason I cannot conceive.  However, it was probably Armstrong that first coined the name.   Armstrong was one of the first cartologists who actually named landscape features on his maps.  He would ask the locals for information on these names and the name of Crown of Scotland must have been misheard by Armstrong  - the Border accent probably defeated him!    It is possible that the hill had a previous latin name similar to the surrouning forest that was - saltus nemoris caledonis(5)  at the time of Merlin in the Dark Ages.  The river Tweed had probably not been named at this time hence the name of Tweed's Cross could not have been in use and the name of the site could have been crux caledonis   It is not too difficult to see how Crux Caledonis became Crown of Scotland.   It is fairly certain that what we now know as Tweed's Cross and Crown of Scotland were previously considered as the same druidical site within the Wood of Calidon.  The concept of this area being named as Calidon is given more credance by Boece(3) - see below. 

The site is near the head of the Devil's Beeftub and located at a spot that boasts of being at the source, not only of the River Tweed, but also of the Rivers of Annan and a short distance away the Clyde.   This does make it a special place that would have appealed to the sunworshippers during the early bronze age.   It may also have appealed to the later druids of the dark ages as the site would have been in the Wood of Calidon.  The wood from which Merlin took his name in the sixth century. The Scottish chronicler Hector Boece  - 1465-1536 - wrote in his Historia Gentis Scotorum that "the water of Clyde rises out of the same mountain within the wood of Calidone, from which rises the Annan"(3).  However, there is no evidence on the ground of any ancient activity on the site and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments  of Scotland, in their survey during the 1960s of the county of Peeblesshire, did not deem the site worthy of investigation. 

There is evidence from various sources including the poem by Barbour that Robert Bruce first met, not knighted, his life long friend, James Douglas, at Ericstane around 1305/6.(2)   Geoffrey W. S. Barrow (4) indicates a suggested route that Bruce took after the murder of Comyn in 1306.   Although Ericstanebrae is not actually mentioned the route does pass close by the source of the Tweed and Clyde. 

 The Crown of Scotland is shown in the centre towards the top of map above.   Ericstane Brae is to the south at the very foot of the map and was on the road  going north from Moffat.  That this meeting, although important, is celebrated by the naming of a near by hill sounds a bit fanciful

In any case the site of this meeting is noted by an interpretation board on the  Eastern Trail of the Robert the Bruce trail.  This board is sited on a layby on the A701 overlooking the Devil's Beeftub - images above. 

As shown on the map the road used to be to the west of Ericstane Brae Hill - the route being originally marked by the original Eric Stane of which no trace now remains.  The marker apart from indicating the route northwards through the Tweed Valley would also mark the Roman road route into Clydesdale.  The modern road northwards is to the east of the Brae.  The eastern shoulder of the Brae having been blasted off to accommodate the new road - part of the spoil from this was used to form the viewpoint site that also has the Covenanter memorial - more about this on the Covenanters in Tweedsmuir page..

The Crown of Scotland is at an elevation of 538 metres, however, the height above the surrounding landscape is only 27 metres!   There is a small cairn on the summit that does not look that old.   The name is a mystery and the thought that it was it was misheard by Armstrong is the best solution that I can come up with.  The area round about is known as Earlshaugh and there is the ruins of an eponymous farm house once the home of the Welsh family more about the family of Welsh on page 16 Welsh Family of Tweedsmuir.  The reference to Earl must be to the Earl of Annandale.   Earlshaugh is now the site for a proposed windfarm - a winfarm on the site of the Wood of Calidon?

 References.

 1)   Armstrong, Mostyn, John; Companion to the Map of the County of Peebles, W Creech, Edinburgh, 1775, p108.

2)  Barbour, John, Tranlation by A.A.M. Duncan; The Bruce, Cannongate 2007. p87.

3)  Clarkson, Tim; Scotland's Merlin A Medieval Legend and its Dark Age Origins, Birlinn, Edinburgh, 2016. pp60-61.

4)  Barrow, W. S. Geoffrey; Robert Bruce & The Community of The Realm of Scotland, Edinburgh Uni Press, 3rd Edition 1988. p147 map.

5)  Geoffrey of Monmouth, translated by John Jay Perry; Vita Merlini, The Life of Merlin, 1925. p5.

 

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