Oor ain auld toon: a story of Hawick
There is evidence of Bronze and Iron Age settlers on the hills of upper Teviotdale, and the Romans built a signal station on the rugged summit of Ruberslaw, above Denholm. It was, however, the Saxons who first occupied the wedge of land where the Teviot and Slitrig meet, and called it Haggawick, meaning "the hedged settlement surrounded by hills". St. Cuthbert, the missionary monk, came and lived here for a while in a hermit's cell on the grassy knowe where St. Mary's Church now stands. The Normans were next to arrive with the Lovel family from Somerset being given the barony of Hawick which they controlled firstly from their wooden tower above the Slitrig which has recently been restored. Through time the powerful Douglas family came to hold sway, Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig granting Hawick its charter in 1537, until they in their turn made way for the Scotts of Buccleuch.
Some visitors were less welcome than others. The town's situation meant that far from being the haven of peace it is today, the Borderland was a cauldron of strife, a cockpit in which were fought out the destinies of neighbouring kingdoms. Small wonder our sturdy forefathers were wary of strangers. They might well turn out to be English raiders like the party who were routed by the young men of Hawick at Hornshole just downstream from the town in 1514, the year after the disastrous Battle of Flodden.
This victorious skirmish is commemorated by the carrying of a replica of the flag captured that day and takes place as part of Hawick's annual Common Riding celebrations. This also sees the peaceful re-enactment of what was once the essential activity of checking the marches or boundaries of the town's land to ensure against encroachment or interference. Come and visit us in June and join the many exiles who return from all over the world to enjoy the pageant and spectacle, the song and story, the unique community spirit of this never to be forgotten experience: The Common Riding.
More settled days saw the development of industry. Bailie John Hardie introduced the first stocking frames to the town in 1771, the small beginning which was to lead eventually to the far-famed Hawick knitwear industry.
That spirit of robust independance, which characterised our forebears, is now channelled into keeping our industry at the top of the tree, into rugby union football and into maintaining the quality of life we cherish here in Hawick among the hills.