Last-ditch bid launched to get back sculpture stolen from hill near Hawick

Philip Murray at home near Hawick with a book about local poet Will Henry Ogilvie.
Philip Murray at home near Hawick with a book about local poet Will Henry Ogilvie.
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A reward of £500 is being offered for information leading to the return of a memorial to a Borders poet.

It’s now almost a year since the bronze sculpture that formed the centrepiece of a cairn commemorating the life and work of Will Henry Ogilvie was stolen from an isolated location near Roberton.

The stolen book sculpture.

The stolen book sculpture.

The tribute, a bronze commemorative book, was created by Hawick sculptor William Landles and unveiled at Horn Hill in August 1993 on the 30th anniversary of the Kelso-born poet’s death at the age of 93.

It was inscribed with lines from Ogilvie’s poem The Road to Roberton.

Despite appeals for information on the thieves responsible and searches around the area, no trace of the sculpture has been found, sparking fears that it has been melted down and sold for scrap for a fraction of the price it will cost to replace.

Hawick’s Ian Landles, chairman of the Will H Ogilvie Memorial Trust, said: “We were so disappointed when the sculpture was stolen.

“The cairn sits in a lovely, remote site on the hill road to Roberton above Ashkirk, with beautiful views all around.

“It is the perfect spot to visualise some of the poet’s most memorable lines describing the Border Country.

“2019 will mark 150 years since the poet’s birth, and we have an ambitious programme of events planned to mark the anniversary.

“Obviously, the cairn will be at the centre of these celebrations.”

Plans are already in hand to replace sculpture, but it will not be easy.

The original mould of the sculpture was not retained by the foundry, so it is not possible for it simply to be recast.

However, an identical cairn in Bourke, New South Wales, Australia, was unveiled shortly after the Roberton one, and by using modern technology, it will be possible to have a 3D laser scan of the sculpture prepared to create an exact replica.

Mr Landles added: “We are determined to have the cairn restored in time for the anniversary in 2019.

“Obviously, this will be a costly process.

“Before going ahead with it, we want to make one final appeal to anyone with information about the whereabouts of the original sculpture.

“If we get it back undamaged, we can reinstate it, and we wouldn’t ask too many questions.

“We are prepared to offer a reward of £500 for information that leads to its successful return.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Philip Murray, vice-chairman of the trust, at Branxholm Braes, near Hawick, on 01450 850219 or 0792 960 3367.

Ogilvie was born at Holefild, near Kelso, in August 1869 and died at his then home at Kirklea, Ashkirk, in January 1963 but also lived in Australia and the US for spells in between.