Clan’s worldwide gathering is coming Home to the Borders

A Home clan gathering at the Flodden Memorial, Branxton.
A Home clan gathering at the Flodden Memorial, Branxton.

A comprehensive Gathering of the Clan Home Association is taking place from August 7 to 14.

Homes, Humes and their kinsmen and women from all over the world are coming together, as they do every five years, at the castles and homes both past and present of this famous Border family.

Hume Castle.

Hume Castle.

Their mission? To renew friendships and get to know each other, to study the genealogy and history of the family down the years and to get involved with the first ever archaeological excavations of the land surrounding Hume Castle.

Home Castle (as it was then known) was destroyed by Colonel Fenwick, one of Oliver Cromwell’s colonels in 1651, along with most of the village houses and the village church as well as the stables and wells which surrounded the castle on all sides.

It was not until 1791 that Hugh Hume-Campbell, who had been ennobled as the Earl of Marchmont, acquired Home Castle from his relative, the then Earl of Home, and set about rebuilding it as a “folly”. He also altered the spelling of the village to Hume.

Not only did he re- build the castle but he also built Marchmont House, which has recently been magnificently restored to its former glory by Oliver Burge.

However, even the Marchmont branch of the family eventually lost interest in Hume village and its castle, allowing it to be put to use predominantly for sheep grazing by a succession of local farmers.

The village school closed in the 1960s and only the village graveyard continued to be used, as it still is today, for its true purpose.

All this started to change at the turn of the century when General Sir John Swinton, a member of the Berwickshire Civic Society, persuaded Historic Scotland to rebuild the ruined remains of Hume Castle at some considerable cost.

The society offered the castle and six surrounding hectares for sale to the recently formed Clan Home Association under its president, the present Earl of Home.

It was this acquisition which led to the foundation of the Hume Castle Preservation Trust.

The Council of Clan Home started to take an active part in bringing the story of the castle to life and this coincided with the people living in Hume and surrounding farms taking a greater interest in developing walks, restoring paths and better publicising the village’s history.

After exploring the possibility of creating a museum, working closely with Historic Environment Scotland, joining the Flodden Eco Museum, and arranging for Historic Scotland to carry out an aerial survey of the castle hillside, a decision was made to purchase a further six hectares of land from sheep farmer Willie Anderson.

This was in order to protect the majority of the hidden former houses which the aerial photographic survey revealed.

In addition, the castle trustees set about applying for grant funding for a full archaeological survey from the Fallago Environment Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund.

Both funding bodies have generously given enough money to enable a team of archaeologists, led by Ian Hill of Harp Archaeology, to start work in August on a survey, excavation and research.

Work will be carried out over the next three years and culminate in a truly professional explanation displayed within the castle walls of all that is discovered.

The project will also embrace the churchyard and the restoration of many of its tombs including those of the Earls of Home which date back nearly 1000 years.

It is hoped that volunteers will join Harp in carrying out much of the work so that the full story can be made available for all local people, school children. tourists and all those whose families have lived in the Merse throughout the centuries.

The Clan Gathering will take part in Coldstream Week, with the Flodden ride-out and visits to Wedderburn Castle, Duns Castle, The Hirsel, Paxton House, Abbotsford House, Marchmont House on a coach tour, led by Dr Ian Maitland Hume, planned.

The Scottish Gunners, who wear the Home tartan, will add to the occasion.

The gathering will include dinners, tours, dances, lectures – including an AGM and lunch at The Hirsel, the home of the Earl and Countess of Home – a service in the Hume Village Graveyard.

This combination of Gathering and excavation will help to bind people in Hume and surrounding villages far more closely as they work to make new discoveries about the area’s long and proud history.