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St. Boswells Scotland

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Information on the village of St. Boswells in Scotland.

The False Alarm and "The Beacon Denner"

The village had its share of troubles in the olden days, as is evident from some of the place-names still in existence. Weirgate was probably originally "Wargate". One of the bastle houses which defended the entry to the village stood on Weirgate Brae near where Weirgate House now stands. At the extreme east end stood a cottage known as the Garrison where arms were stored.

Later, during the Napoleonic War, in 1803-4, when Napoleon threatened an invasion, and local Volunteers were called to armed readiness, an alarm system was put into place. This involved a series of beacons, each visible from the next, which would be lit should invasion threaten.

At the beginning of 1804, everyone awaited the French, who were supposed to prefer to attack during the raw and foggy weather which January brought. So, on 31st January, it was no surprise when the St Boswells Volunteers saw the beacons alight, and collecting their weapons, they set off for Kelso, along the Maxton road to join the other volunteers mustering in Kelso Square. Despite a roadblock at Rutherford, and barricades at Kelso Bridge, they were the second group to arrive.

Unfortunately it was a false alarm, known ever since as The False Alarm.

On that same night, a group of farmers, all Yeomen, on their way home from Jedburgh Market, were gathered at Monteviot Toll Bar where Johnnie Hislop was landlord. One of their number saw the beacon, warned the others and they all headed for Kelso, forgetting to pay their dues before they left.
The following week, once again going home from market, they stopped at the bar. They apologised for their forgetfulness, and offered to pay their outstanding debt. Hislop, however, refused to accept their money, and instead suggested that each year on 31st January, he would host a commemmorative dinner, with a roast goose, to which they would all come. Soon after, Hislop moved to the Buccleuch Hotel at St Boswells, but he continued to provide the "Beacon Denner". As the original band grew fewer with the passing years, the dinner was continued, but in January 1904 a grand Centenary Dinner was again held.

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