Spotlight on our historic sites

A Lighting the Borders event will mark the start of the Borders Heritage Festival with 25 historic sites being lit up like Floors Castle pictured above.
A Lighting the Borders event will mark the start of the Borders Heritage Festival with 25 historic sites being lit up like Floors Castle pictured above.

A unique event linking more than 25 historic sites across the Scottish Borders, including Duns and Ayton castles and Gunsgreen House in Eyemouth, opens this year’s Borders Heritage Festival.

Lighting the Borders will see historic sites flooded with blue light for three nights from Friday, September 1, to Sunday, September 3 as part of Scotland’s year of history, heritage and archaeology,

A lantern parade, beacon lighting and covenanters’ conventicle takes place in Duns on Friday, September 1, going from the Market Square at 7pm to Duns Law, where there will be a presentation on the history of conventicles – illegal religious meetings – and a re-enactment, followed by the lighting of a beacon that will burn for three nights.

Duns Castle will be lit as part of the opening weekend, as will Duns Parish Church and Coldstream Community Centre, which will also host a Scocha concert.

Medieval re-enactments, storytelling, and living history takes place at Hume Castle on Saturday, September 2, when the Kelso Laddie will ride out with an entourage and meet the Greenlaw Maid to open the event at 1pm.

The Hume Banner, or Marchmont Standard, will be flown from the battlements and there will be an afternoon of re-enactment, including Lady Hume’s surrender, and living history with the Lothian Levy, including a camp, drill training and skirmishes.

The event includes an archaeological walk and tour with Piers Dixon, hog roast, medieval food, the Smailholm Singers, Northumbrian and Scottish pipers, poetry and music.

This event is the first of three precursors to the Battle of Pinkie re-enactment. The second takes place on Sunday, September 3, at Eyemouth Fort.

This includes a reading of Somerset’s proclamation to the people of Scotland, a walk along the coastal path to the fort for re-enactments and living history displays. An exhibition and video presentation will be housed in the adjacent holiday park and a virtual reality display will be available at Eyemouth Museum.

The Borders Heritage Festival, which runs throughout September and includes over 200 events, is being delivered by Live Borders in partnership with Scottish Borders Council and the Borders Heritage Forum.

For a full programme of Lighting the Borders events, go online and click on

Funding has been provided by Creative Scotland, Museums & Galleries Scotland, EventScotland – as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology - and the Fallago Environment Fund.

Paula Ward, VisitScotland regional director said: “2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories and unique experiences as part of Scotland’s 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology celebrations.

“The historic environment forges connections between people and the places where they live and visit, as well as being an integral and iconic part of our national brand.”

“The plans to shine a spotlight on the region’s historic landscape through light, story, performance and song as part of the opening celebrations for the Borders Heritage Festival gives wonderful recognition of the unique and spectacular heritage we have right here on our doorstep.”

Ewan Jackson, chief executive of Live Borders, said: “In addition to the lighting element, this opening event sees a remarkable variety of events taking place in historic sites across the Borders, including mass choirs, re-enactments and torchlight parades.

“This will highlight in so many ways the rich history, heritage and archaeology of the Scottish Borders and we hope to welcome visitors from across Scotland and beyond for the start of the Borders Heritage Festival, and right throughout September at the numerous events taking place.”

Also part of Lighting the Borders, a Norman feast and music will be held at Riddell Tower, near Lilliesleaf and the Scottish Vocal Ensemble will perform at Neidpath Castle, near Peebles.

Councillor Euan Jardine, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for culture and sport, added: “Lighting the Borders is an incredible opening to this year’s Borders Heritage Festival and will truly capture the attention of local people and visitors.

“A chain of light will be formed across the landscape at dusk each evening linking these historic sites, re-enacting the lighting of signal fires from the time of the Border Reivers.”

Those attending the events and capturing the unique lighting of sites are encouraged to share their images using the hashtags #BheritageF17 and #HHA2017.