Military precision is needed for the 2017 Elliot Gathering

A picture from the 2013 Elliot Gathering with Clan Chief Margaret Elliot pictured centre
A picture from the 2013 Elliot Gathering with Clan Chief Margaret Elliot pictured centre

In ancient times, if you got wind that the Elliot clan was getting together, you’d be right to expect some trouble.

As one of the most powerful and notorious of the Scottish Borders clans, they were a force to be feared and reckoned with.

Nowadays, the meetings are far more well meaning but can still pull in the numbers.

Every four years, the Elliot Gathering is organised, summoning Elliots from every corner of the world to Redheugh and Newcastleton.

But the 2017 event will also be making an appearance in Edinburgh to take part in an exciting addition to the Royal Military Tattoo.

Clansmen and clanswomen from the Elliots have been invited to take a starring role at the event this August, alongside other established Scottish clans.

Clan members will march up the Royal Mile and onto the castle esplanade to open the Tattoo each night during its three-week run.

Margaret Elliot, Elliot clan chief, said: “This is very much a first for us and it’s really lovely to be included.

“Each clan will have an allocated night at the Tattoo and we are sharing our night with the Agnews.

“A Splash of Tartan is the theme so we intend to march wearing as much tartan as possible and wave our banners, then really enjoy the whole show.”

Another exciting addition to the 2017 Gathering itinerary is the Scocha concert. Hosted by the Holm Show and the Elliot Clan Society, the concert will feature lively music from the popular Hawick-based Scocha folk and rock band to kick off the Gathering with a bang on August 24 in Newcastleton.

Margaret added: “This has been possible thanks to a grant from Event Scotland and will be held the night before the main Gathering day.

“On Friday, we have the formal Gathering here in Redheugh where we’ll be holding demonstrations of dry stone wall making and stick making.”

The formal Gathering will begin with a blast off with the cannon before the officers, prior to the International Clan Society dinner.

On August 26, members of the Gathering will take in the Holm Show to witness a perfect example of an established local agricultural show with animals, sports, terrier racing, Cumberland wrestling, crafts and competitions.

Margaret said: “We usually have about 200 people at the Gatherings so we’re expecting that again this year, including clan members from Australia and USA.

“I think that’s about the right number as any more than that can be a bit overwhelming.

“This is a nice size and people can meet and talk to each other as we don’t get together very often.

“It’s wonderful for the local economy and that’s part of the reason we do it, to bring people to this part of the world.

“The bed and breakfasts and hotels are booked up, and we use local restaurants for our events.”

Margaret’s father, the late Sir Arthur Elliot of Stobs, formed the Elliot Clan Society in the 1970s.

It followed his book The Elliots, The Story of a Border Clan which tracked the genealogical history of the famous Border family from the time of Robert the Bruce.

It sparked so much interest that the clan was formalised by the clan society which held its first Elliot Gathering in 1972 in Hermitage Castle.

Margaret said: “There were over 100 at the first event, attracting interest from across the world.

“My father set up a very efficient clan society so it was a privilege to take over.”

Margaret has been in charge since the death of Sir Arthur 26 years ago.

She added: “It’s always been run every four years; it becomes a little diluted if you hold it every year.

“There are 2000 in the membership which has remained steady over the past 10 years.

“However, there are many more Elliots across the world so the clan is much bigger than the society.

“You do get used to all the organisation; it’s like planning a wedding every four years.

“We see our clan as a family.”