At Craig Douglas, turn right
through the gates and follow the track for two miles to Blackhouse Tower,
a Black Douglas stronghold, standing in a remote spot in the Yarrow
The Black Douglases were a very
powerful clan and played a great part in Scottish history.
They were so called because of their swarthy appearance.
Beyond the tower is Douglas
Burn and yet beyond, and to the north, is a clump of trees beside which is
an ancient circle of stones. There were once eight stones upstanding but
now only three remain. It is here the Douglas Tragedy was said to have
Blackhouse Tower, at that time,
was the home of an imposing family of Douglases which included the father,
seven sons and a daughter, the Lady Margaret. A local nobleman, Lord
William, and Lady Margaret, fell in love, but the match was not to the
liking of the Douglases who determined to prevent it.
And so the couple eloped, but,
on making their way to William’s home, they were intercepted by father
Douglas and all seven of his sons.
They fought as gentlemen should
fight, one at a time, and, one at a time, William felled a Douglas.
But Sir William, although he
survived, was seriously hurt and he died in his lover’s arms. Lady
Margaret, unable to bear the loss of her family and her lover, died of
grief and was buried alongside William in St Mary’s churchyard.
It is said that out of each of
the graves grew a brier. And the briers entwined into one.
In the glowing light of a peat
burning fire, a Border mother might sing to her child:
Hush ye, hush ye, little pet ye,
Hush ye, hush ye, do not fret ye,
The Black Douglas shall not get ye.
On one occasion Roxburgh
Castle, near Kelso, was re-captured by the Douglases. Using SAS type
tactics, Black Douglas led is men over the walls and into the castle.
Stealthily exploring the nearest rooms, Douglas came upon a women singing
her child to sleep. As she sang ‘The Black Douglas shall not get ye,’
a leather-gloved hand was laid on her arm and a voice said: ‘I am not so
sure of that!’
It was Black Douglas himself!