Ancient tower plays key role in Gathering ceremony

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade. Arriving at Torwoodlee Tower.
Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade. Arriving at Torwoodlee Tower.

As the fun of the fancy dress parade was being enjoyed on the Wednesday of the Braw Lads’ Gathering, a quiet but important ceremony was taking place on the edge of town.

A sod was cut from the grounds of Torwoodlee Estate and a stone secured from the ancient tower.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade. Piper Alan Henry leads the party to Torwoodlee Tower.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade. Piper Alan Henry leads the party to Torwoodlee Tower.

Both would feature prominently in the Ceremony of Sasine at the Old Town Cross on the Saturday.

Braw Lad Cameron Pate, Braw Lass Abbie Frankland; Bearers of the Sod and Red Roses, Gavin Young and Alice Mackay and Bearers of the Stone and White Roses Daniel Whitehead and Lucy Black, were welcomed by the Laird of Torwoodlee, James Pringle, after riding from the town.

The principals were introduced to the Laird by Gathering President David Romanis and permission to retrieve the sod and stone was readily granted.

They recall the marriage in 1503 of James IV of Scotland to Margaret Tudor of England – the marriage of Marriage of the Thistle and the Rose. Margaret’s dowry included Ettrick Forest – represented as Sasine, the transfer of earth and stone.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade. 2015 Braw Lad, Cameron Pate with the sod taken from Torwoodlee.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade. 2015 Braw Lad, Cameron Pate with the sod taken from Torwoodlee.

Braw Lad Cameron cut the sod from in front of the tower and Braw Lass Abbie retrieved a stone from within its ancient walls. They were placed safe in the hands of Gavin and Daniel to be taken to the Burgh Chambers to await Saturday’s ceremonies

This week a project began to maintain the existence of the crumbling tower.

The Laird described it as a long-awaited project.

He told the company: “Built in 1601 and abandoned in 1783 when the family moved to our current, modern house, it has deteriorated over the years and is now somewhat dangerous

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade. 2015 Braw Lass, Abbie Frankland put the stone taken from Torwoodlee in the carrying bag to be taken back into town.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade. 2015 Braw Lass, Abbie Frankland put the stone taken from Torwoodlee in the carrying bag to be taken back into town.

“But with the financial help of the Fallago Environment Fund, Historic Scotland, members of the extended Pringle family and many donors from around the world, we can keep this stunning ruin as a backdrop to this rather wonderful ceremony during Braw Lads’ Week.”

He added: “As a family, we believe in multi-purpose management. Each endeavour isn’t taken purely for its own sake but is examined closely to ensure that the overall benefits to ourselves, to the environment and to the wider community are achieved and that the three-legged stool of economic, environmental and social outcomes remains standing.

“So I am very content that conserving this tower will bring benefits to all of us and will allow the good people of Galashiels to continue to send their representatives to collect these treasured symbols of our past in front of this romantic ruin and that we, the Pringle family, will continue to be delighted to welcome them.”

The ceremony over, it was time to ride back to the town and for the Torwoodlee cavalcade to join with the colourful fancy dress parade.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade. The Braw Lad & Lass at Torwoodlee with ex-braw lads and lassies.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade. The Braw Lad & Lass at Torwoodlee with ex-braw lads and lassies.

The overall fancy dress winner were the 101 Dalmatians. Sally Kemp, managing director of sponsors Murray and Burrell commented: “As a local employer we were really proud to be asked to support this year’s event.

“The amount of effort and imagination that has gone in to all the costumes and floats is quite incredible.”

On the balcony of the Burgh Chambers, before a large crowd, sod and stone were entrusted to the president – ready for Saturday.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade. Ending the night on the Town Hall balcony after the parade with the sod and the stone from Torwoodlee.

Galashiels, Torwoodlee rideout and fancy dress parade. Ending the night on the Town Hall balcony after the parade with the sod and the stone from Torwoodlee.