TWEEDSMUIR PARISH HISTORY                                     

 6.   Hawkshaw.


The name of Hawkshaws enters the chronicles in the reign of King Robert the Bruce in a charter that was granted to King Robert Bruce to David Lindesay, for his homage and service,of his lands of Hawkeschaws which were to be held of the Crown for the services of two archers in the King's host. (1).   For more about archers and yew bows see page 5.1.Yew Trees of Neidpath.

The Hawkshaw Castle site was surveyed by the Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historical Monuments for Scotland (RCAHMS) in June 1960 (2).    THe Castle site is on Canmore ID 48524 and the Roman Marble Head on Canmore ID 48557.  The survey was carried out before the construction of the Fruid Reservoir.  The report of the survey of the Hawkshaw site. No 509 follows below.   In the report the reference three is for "Buchan iii, 395", and for four "Armstrong, Companion, 107."


The remains of the Hawkshaw farmhouse mentioned in the above report and also of Carterhope are now under the waters of the Fruid reservoir. 

Left is an image of the Hawkshaw farm house surounded by trees that were cut down prior to the flooding of the valley for the reservoir.  Also 2004 photograph with tree stumps showing during low water levels.

The Castle site is the ancestral home of the Porteous Clan that resided at Hawkshaw Castle for a considerable time and they have a memorial there.  It is thanks to the efforts of the Clan Porteous that the site has survived.   It is fortuitous that the site is in the Hawkshaw valley and not in the Fruid valley that was flooded.  The Clan have a gathering every five years at the site.   Photograph on the right shows the memorial with the weir on the Hawkshaw burn on the right.  




Despite the fact that Amstrong stated that the Burial Ground was close to the Castle he did not show the Castle Site /Burial Ground on his map and the location of the actual sites are open to debate.  The burn that passed close to Hawkshaw farmhouse is named the Chapel Burn and hence an obvious location for the chapel. 

Another possible location of the chapel was further south in the Fruid Valley namely at Priesthope and its associated burn.  It is very unfortunate that more is not known about the chapel or the burial ground where members of the Porteous and Fraser and other residents of the valley are interred.  For more about the Fruid Chapel and its possible location see Page 11.  Pilrgrim's Way, Chapels and the Expansion of Christianity.


The Roman Marble Head mentioned in the RCAHMS report above is now nicely displayed in the National Museum of Scotland,  Chambers Street, Edinburgh. It had previously been in the National Museum of Antiquities to which the head was donated in 1780.   The above report quotes Armstrong (3), writing in 1775, who actually stated "Near this, are faint vestiges of a chapel and burial ground, where the head of Monk, in statuary, was some time since found."    So, at the time the head was thought to be that of a monk hence an automatic association with the chapel.   The original quotation from Armstrong above as indicated did not have the indefinite article "a" before the word Monk.  This led to some confusion as George Chalmers(9) writing in 1810 quoting Armstrong said that the head was of General Monk who had been Cromwell's Commander in Chief in Scotland!  Pennecuik(10) writing in 1815 added the indefinite article "a" to avoid further confusion. However the head proved to be Roman and therefore it would appear to have no obvious connection with the chapel.  This concept is continued by the RCAHMS who now have the Chapel and the Roman Head on separate pages of their on-line archive Canmore.  The donation in 1780 to the Museum of Antiquities mentioned above was by the Rev. T. Muchet of Tweedsmuir.   The head supposed to be that of a priest, which had been ploughed up not far from the ruins of a chapel within half a mile of the tower of Hawkshaw, in the parish of Tweedsmuir.(4)

The origin of the head and the findspot would appear to be just as obscure as the location of the chapel.   The head is classed as a second century object found on a non-Roman site and of Trajanic date and may represent plunder from the south (5)   That the head was plunder is echoed by Lawrence Keppie (6) who stated "may have been loot from a roman site".  This roman site could have been in the south as indicated above but it is thought that it could have come from Central Scotland where it "has been suggested that the extremely well carved head once formed part of a triumphal monument erected in the Lowlands of Scotland to commemorate the Roman conquest of the area. It dates to the early years of the second century AD.(7). 

There are erudite articles on the subject of the Hawkshaw Head but in the main they are concentrating on the subject depicted on the head.(8).   Is this a famous army General or maybe even an Emporer of Rome?

More images in the Hawkshaw Picture Gallery


The Royal Commission on the Ancient Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) and Historic Scotland (H.S.) combined in 2015 to form a new organisation Historic Environment Scotland (H.E.S.).  The references in the above pages and following references to the RCAHMS and HS should now be read as H.E.S. 

1)  Renwick, Robert; Historical Notes on Peeblesshire Localities, Watson & Smyth, Peebles, 1847. p327.

2) Royal Commission on the Ancient Monuments of Scotland, Inventory for Peeblesshire. Edinburgh, 1967, p236. Also Canmore ID 48546 for Chapel Site and 48557 for Roman Head.

3)  Armstrong, Mostyn, John; A Companion to the Map of the County of Peebles, W Creech, Edinburgh 1775, p107.

4)  Curle, James; An Inventory of Objects of Roman and Provincial Roman Origin Found on Sites in Scotland not Definitely Associated with Roman Constructions, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol VI, Sixth Series, 1931-32, Edinburgh, 1932. pp326-329, p368.

5)  Robertson, Anne; Roman Finds from Non-Roman Sites in Scotland, Britannia 1, Oxford, 1970. pp205-206.

6)  Keppie, Lawrence; Scotland's Roman Remains, Bell and Bain, Glasgow, 1998, p85.

7)  Crarke, Breeze and Mackay, D V, D J and G; The Romans in Scotland: an introduction to the collections of the National Museum of Antiques of Scotland, HMSO, Edinburgh, 1908, Front Cover/Frontispiece.

8)  Russel, Miles, and Manley, Harry; Establishing identity and Context for the Bosham and Hawkshaws Heads, Britannia, Cambridge, 2015, p12. 

9)  Chalmers, George; Caledonia, or, an Account Historical and Topographical of North Britain from the Most Ancient to the Present Times, Constable & Co, Edinburgh, 1810.  Vol II pp957-958.

10) Pennecuik, Alexander; Works of Alexander Pennecuik containing the Description of Tweeddale, Allardice, 1815. p244.


or return to Tweedsmuir Parish History page.