Repentance Tower and Trailtow Chapel Graveyard, Hoddom, Scottish Borders.

Not exactly a Kirk this one, but there is a graveyard within the tower’s enclosure, so it counts as far as I’m concerned. Especially when you consider the wee climb I had to make to get there! The view from the tower is magnificent though.       

Repentance Tower was erected in 1563 within the walls of an earlier burial ground. The graveyard formed part of the demolished Trailtow Chapel. The three-storey tower house was erected by Sir John Maxwell of Terregles and formed part of a chain of elevated defence posts which warned against dastardly English raiding parties who crossed the border via The Solway Firth.

It is unclear where the monument derives its name from, and a number of interpretations have been suggested. The more plausible of these include John Maxwell’s declaration of guilt, having demolished the chapel in order to build his tower house at Hoddom. The tower survives on the site of Trailtow chapel. It is also a place name and was used to identify the prominent hill upon which the tower stands. This may be a reflection of earlier religious events, such as its association with the preachings of St Mungo, or later disputes over land and local power. Another more bloodthirsty explanation of the name concerns a raid in 1548  when an English force challenged the Douglases at Durisdeer, who were under the charge of Sir John. The night before the battle, he had been bribed to change sides in exchange for the hand of Agnes Herries and the title Lord Herries. His treachery, however, cost the lives of 12 of his kinsmen, who had been held at Carlisle Castle as hostages, one of which was his 12-year-old nephew. Maxwell was said to have built the tower as a sign of his remorse. A historical reference to the tower’s significance reminds that the bell and beacon should be ‘keeped and never fail burning so long as the English men remain on Scotland’.

Later the estates passed into the hands of the Murray family and a small graveyard sprung up around the tower. John Murray, who’s family owned lands nearby travelled to America in the 18th century and returned with a young black slave called Moses. As time went on the slave become a close friend of Murray and took on his surname. No longer a slave but a free man he was given the honour of being buried in the family graveyard as an everlasting symbol of their friendship. There is also the Murray Mausoleum next to the  tower, the Murray’s having bought Hoddom Castle after the Union of the Crowns.

The Memorial Stone to the slave Moses is in this group. Hayfever hit before I could find the particular stone!
The inscription above the door. it reads “Repentance”, honest!

By photos,poetry and haiku by Derek Ross

I am a photographer/ poet from Dumfries in South West Scotland. I concentrate on minimalist images and prefer using an iPhone these days. As far as my writing is concerned, I usually write short poems (some in Scots dialect), hence my interest in haiku and related forms.


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