The Borders – Scotland’s Forgotten Landscape

Photo: GetintotheBorders

Photo: Get Into The Borders

The Scottish Borders is the often overlooked buffer land between the nations of England and Scotland. With a rich farming heritage, stunning landscapes, historic abbeys and Common Riding festivals steeped in history, it has plenty to offer the visitor searching for the unusual. However, some elements of Borders culture and innovation have often not got the recognitions they deserve, so how can the area look to its historic past to enrich its future?

Although maybe not as famous as the Selkirk and Hawick Common Ridings or the historic Abbeys of Jedburgh and Melrose, the textiles industries have played a vital role in the development of the Scottish Borders. From the founding of Pringle in Scotland in the early 1800’s Hawick, to the ongoing work of Heriot-Watt University’s renowned School of Textiles and Design in Galashiels. Textile manufacturing and design has been woven through the fabric of the land for many hundreds of years. Which makes this an ideal home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland. 

Photo: Radio Borders

Photo: Radio Borders

Recent plans approved by the Scottish Government will turn the old post office in Galashiels into a brand new permanent home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland. Originally the brainchild of Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith, the tapestry was created to show the history of the nation. 1,000 volunteers took one year to complete the project which was deemed a huge success when unveiled in 2013. After travelling around the country to much fanfare a permanent home was needed to house the 143-meter-long tapestry. An initial proposal to place the tapestry in a custom built home in Tweedbank was rejected by the Scottish Government, with a new deal set to place it at the heart of Galashiels in the center of the Borders. The Borders town can now look forward to housing the world’s largest tapestry, and what better setting for such a project than amongst the rolling hills and historic old towns that have contributed so much to the history of Scotland over the years. 

Away from the world of textiles, the Borders still has plenty to offer going forward. Rugby Sevens, invented in Melrose, is undoubtedly one of the most successful Borders export of the modern age. The shortened fast paced version of rugby union, sees teams of seven compete in tournaments, with each game split into two halves of seven minutes. Sevens was created by two Borders butchers, Ned Haig and David Sanderson in 1883, as a fundraiser for their local club Melrose RFC. The annual Melrose Sevens tournament takes place in April and sees clubs from across Scotland – joined by guest sides from as far as South Africa – battle it out for the historic ‘Ladies Cup’.

Photo: Melrose Living

Photo: Melrose Living

The World Rugby Sevens Series incorporates nations from across the globe to challenge each other in tournaments held from Hong Kong to Dubai between December and May each year. The sport has been part of the Commonwealth Games setup since the 1998 and finally made its Olympic debut in Rio last year. It was fitting that Melrose-born, Mark Robertson, was the sole Border resident selected for the Great Britain squad who went on to claim silver. Completing the cycle for the Borders town that has seen it’s sport grow from a small local tournament over a hundred years ago to a showcase Olympic event.

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