About the year 1524,The Archbishop of Glasgow, Gavin Dunbar, became exasperated at the activities of the reivers and was unable to contain himself any longer. He issued his Monition of Cursing, a
wordy rant, against the reivers, which made the Archbishop the supreme curser of all time and would, if times had been different, have
earned the good archbishop the highest rating in the Guinness Book of Records.
This magnificent tirade was read out from every pulpit throughout the Borders and beyond.
The congregations must have been awestruck by
its venom and length. Although no doubt it impressed the churchgoers,
clergy, and the government, it had no impact on the reivers except as a source of great amusement.
This great cursing was a step beyond excommunication from the church. Wrongdoers who were excommunicated could, eventually, in certain circumstances, have their punishment revoked.
Not so the cursing. It
could not be rescinded:
it was a permanent thing.
On the following page is but an extract from this splendid tirade of some
1,500 words. .
I curse thair heid and all the haris of thair
I curse thair face, thair ene, thair mouth, thair neise, thair toung, thair
teith, thair crag (neck), thair shulderis, thair breist, thair hert, thair
stomok, thair bak, thair wame, thair armes, thair leggis, thair handis, thair
feit, and everilk part of thair body, frae the top of thair heid to the soill of thair
feit, befoir and behind, within and without.
I curse thaim gangand (going), and I curse thaim rydand (riding); I curse them
standand, and I curse thaim sittand; I curse thaim etand,
I curse thaim drinkand; I curse them walkand,
I curse them sleepand; I
curse thaim rysand,
I curse thaim lyand; I curse thaim at hame;
I curse thaim fra hame;I curse thaim within the house; I curse thaim without the house; I curse thair
wiffis, thair barnis, and thair servandis participand with thaim in thair
I wary thair cornys, thair catales, thair woll, thair scheip, thair horse, thair
swyne, thair geise (geese), thair hennys, and all thair quyk gude (livestock), I wary rhair
hallis, thair chalmeris (rooms), thair kechhingis, thair stannillis, thair
barnys, thair biris(byres),
thair bernyardis, thair cailyardis (vetatable patch), thair plewis, thair
harrowis, and the gudis and housis that is necessair for thair sustentatioun and
And finally, I condemn thaim perpetualie to the deip pit of hell, ther remain with Lucifer and all his
falllowis, and thair bodeis to the gallowis of the Burrow Mure, first to be
hangit, syn revin and ruggit
with doggis, swyne and utheris wyld beists, abhominable to all the warld.
And their candillis gangis frae your
sicht, as mot thair saulis gang fra the visage of God, and thair gude faim fra the
warld, quhill thair forbeir thair oppin thair synnys foirsaidis
and ryse frae this teribill cursing, and mak satisfaction and pennance.