Young Wat of Harden lived with his family in the Yarrow valley. He was a handsome young man, well liked by his peers.
Like so many men of his day, Wat was not averse to bit of reiving, and from time to time, he brought home welcome additions to his family’s stock.
Sir Gideon Murray lived at Elibank Castle about 15 miles to the north by the Tweed. He was locally renowned for the good quality cattle he bred.
One day, Wat mounted a raid on Elibank, but things did not go according to plan, and young Wat found himself a prisoner in Sir Gideon’s dungeon.
Normally, he’d have been strung up that very day, but Sir Gideon, having recently suffered some annoying losses, decided to make the hanging of Wat a special event as a dire warning to all other potential miscreants.
Arrangements went ahead, and due publicity was given to the forthcoming event.
Meanwhile, Lady Murray, being most impressed with the bearing and appearance of the young man in the dungeon, felt that it was such a shame that so desirable a young man should die. An idea slowly matured in her head.
Now, the Murrays had several daughters all of which had been successfully married off, with the exception of one, Meg, the youngest. Many suitors had come from afar, showing interest in the Murray’s unmarried daughter, as the Murray were a very respected family and quite wealthy. But when the saw Meg invariably they quickly made their excuses and were off into the distance with embarrassing haste.
And the reason was that Meg was ugly. Really ugly, and she had acquired the name of Muckle Mou’ed Meg on account of her huge mouth.
Here was a husband for Meg, decided Lady Murray, and Sir Gideon agree with enthusiasm. Meg’s lack of suitors had been a long burden to bear.
Wat was brought out of his cell and given a choice, marry Meg, or hang.
Now, Wat knew of Meg and indeed had encountered her. This was a choice, he thought, he could not lightly make, and he asked to be returned to the dungeon to consider.
In the dungeon, Wat considered, and the lord and lady of the castle anxiously awaited his decision. Life was sweet to Wat, and, weighing all the considerations, he decided that living, even with Meg, was better than dying. He chose to marry Meg.
As the years passed by Meg made an excellent wife and a devoted mother.
They all lived happily ever after.
Elibank Castle 73 397 363, associated with the Douglases as well as the Murrays, can be found at map reference 73 397 363.
Beyond Aikwood, pass through the Village of Ettrick Bridge and turn right
for the Yarrow valley. Here is Kirkhope Tower, the home of Willie Scott of Harden. The tower can be seen from the road, to the left.
Map reference 73 38 23