A Promotional video by Jason Baxter Media displaying the best of the Scottish Borders created for and on behalf of Scottish Borders Council. Some of this footage was also included in the Borders based coverage for this years live broadcast on the Tour of Britain.
Historical fiction about Scotland – right here in the Borders!!
Themes of herbal medicine and heresy, intrigue and ancient practices, superstition and supernatural forces, saints and sinners, violence and virtue, myths and martyrs, heresy and history expunged. What more ingredients could you want?
The action takes place on mysterious and sinister moorlands, remote and romantic islands, Scotland’s episcopal centre of St Andrews.
Calling all readers and enthusiasts of historical fiction; specifically about Scotland, even more specifically about the Borders! Here is a book about Soutra, that mysterious moor with the amazing views towards the north, towards Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth, many hill ranges and even Highland peaks. All you will see at the site is the Soutra Aisle, a family vault dating back to 1689, and built of the stone that once made a part of the immense Abbey Hospital that stood here for 3 centuries.
Some visitors think that the Aisle is the old abbey church; but no, it is of much later date. And the original Soutra Church of the Holy Trinity was of comparable size to other Borders Abbeys such as Jedburgh or Melrose (see below). This is known because of the size of the foundations of Soutra. Much of the history of the ending of Soutra Hospital is as mysteriously hidden as the physical remains.
So that is the story in the book ‘BORDER BROTHERS’ by Margaret Cook. A good, serious, summer read? A welcome present for your book-avid friend or family-member?
‘You do not know where history stops and fictions begins….’
‘A page-turner; you want to know what happens next.’
‘A compelling sense of doom…’
‘The writing is very good – competent, entertaining and engaging.’
‘The writing is highly accomplished…’
‘A fantastic central character and strong independent female characters…’
‘The book deals with political, social and religious themes well; everything in the multiple strands of the plot fits together well.’
‘Great characters and very well-plotted.’
‘I really did fear for Soutra as events against it were put in motion….’
Border Brothers can be bought online at Amazon, Wordery and other online bookshops; as well as Waterstones, Blackwells, Whities in Peebles, Far from the Madding Crowd in Linlithgow, the Bookmark in Grantown on Spey, the House of Soutra café, Mainstreet Trading Bookshop in St Boswells, Royal Botanic Gardens shop, Edinburgh.
The Sealed Knot, the UK’s oldest re-enactment group, will be transforming the castle grounds into a civil war military camp. There will be musket and pike drills, cooking demonstrations and even a skirmish.
The castle will also be open both days and admission includes access to both.
I am holding a Book Launch Party for this book in Blackhall Library in Edinburgh in July; this is my local library, and a very fine setting for the event. I shall be talking about the book itself, but even more, the inspiration for it, the various history trails I followed, the blank walls I encountered, and the personal medical memories that went into it. Ideally I should like to talk to people in Borders libraries also. Please contact me via the borders.co.uk website if you are interested in such a speaking event (there won’t be wine and nibbles on all occasions, alas).
Probably many historical records are suppressed if the truth embarrasses someone of importance. The story of the ending and demotion of Soutra Abbey Hospital in the Middle Ages seems to have been extraordinarily comprehensive. My fictional account in ‘BORDER BROTHERS’ may be near the mark; a story of power and greed by Church and State.
At the top of Soutra Moor, 10 miles north of Lauder, there are ghosts stalking the top of the hill. Some call them wind turbines. But there are no romantic ruins as in Melrose, Jedburgh or other Border Abbey sites; all the remains are buried underground, a suitable analogy for the blank holes in the historical record, not only about the ending of the Abbey but also about its importance in history. I wonder if there is information concealed in a dusty file or drawer somewhere in a library or castle ?
Compare the two pictures, one of the ruins of Melrose Abbey, still bearing witness to its beauty and power, both secular and spiritual, centuries after its ending; and the bleak windswept hilltop with no evidence of the grandeur that once was here. Only a small family funerary vault made of the stones that once graced Soutra Hospital.
Huge congratulations to Sammi Kinghorn, who has returned home from the World Para-Athletic Championships, as a double world champion! She won two golds, a bronze, and broke a world record to top it of...