The Douglas Tragedy

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Rise up, rise up now

Blackhouse Tower, at that time, was the home of an imposing family of Douglases which included the father, seven sons and a daughter, the Lady Margaret. A local nobleman, Lord William, and Lady Margaret, fell in love, but the match was not to the liking of the Douglases who determined to prevent it.


And so the couple eloped, but, on making their way to William’s home, they were intercepted by father Douglas(1) and all seven of his sons.

They fought as gentlemen should fight, one at a time, and, one at a time, William felled a Douglas.


But Sir William, although he survived, was seriously hurt and he died in his lover’s arms. Lady Margaret, unable to bear the loss of her family and her lover, died of grief and was buried alongside William in St Mary’s churchyard. 

It is said that out of each of the graves grew a brier. And the briers entwined into one.

The Douglas Tragedy

"Rise up, rise up now, Lord Douglas," she says,
"And put on your armour so bright;
Let it never be said that a daughter of thine
Was married to a lord under night.

"Rise up, rise up, my seven bold sons,
And put on your armour so bright,
And take better care of your youngest sister,
For your eldest's awa' the last night." -

He's mounted her on a milk-white steed,
And himself on a dapple grey,
With a bugelet horn hung down by his side,
And lightly they rode away.

Lord William lookit o'er his left shoulder,
To see what he could see,
And there be spy'd her seven brethren bold,
Come riding o'er the lee.

"Light down, light down, Lady Marg'ret," he said,
"And hold my steed in your hand,
Until that against your seven brothers bold,
And your father I make a stand." -

She held his steed in her milk white hand,
And never shed one tear,
Until that she saw her seven brethren fa',
And her father hard fighting, who loved her so dear.

"O hold your hand, Lord William!" she said,
"For your strokes they are wondrous sair;
True lovers I can get many a ane,
But a father I can never get mair." -

O she's ta'en out her handkerchief,
It was o' the holland sae fine,
And aye she dighted her father's bloody wounds,
That were redder than the wine.

"O chuse, O chuse, Lady Marg'ret," he said,
"O whether will ye gang or bide?"
"I'll gang, I'll gang, Lord William," she said,
"For ye have left me no other guide."

He's lifted her on a milk-white steed,
And himself on a dapple grey.
With a bugelet horn hung down by his side,
And slowly they baith rade away.

O they rade on, and on they rade,
And a' by the light of the moon,
Until they came to yon wan water,
And there they lighted down.

They lighted down to tak a drink
Of the spring that ran sae clear:
And down the stream ran his gude heart's blood,
And sair she 'gan to fear.

"Hold up, hold up, Lord William," she says,
"For I fear that you are slain!"
"'Tis naething but the shadow of my scarlet cloak
That shines in the water sae plain."

O they rade on, and on they rade,
And a' by the light of the moon,
Until they cam to his mother's ha' door,
And there they lighted down.

"Get up, get up, lady mother," he says,
"Get up, and let me in! -
Get up, get up, lady mother," he says,
"For this night my fair ladye I've win.

"O mak my bed, lady mother," he says,
"O mak it braid and deep!
And lay Lady Marg'ret close at my back,
And the sounder I will sleep." -

Lord William was dead lang ere midnight,
Lady Marg'ret lang ere day -
And all true lovers that go thegither,
May they have mair luck than they!

Lord William was buried in St. Marie's kirk,
Lady Margaret in Marie's quire;
Out o' the lady's grave grew a bonny red rose,
And out o' the knight's a brier.

And they twa met, and they twa plat,
And fain they wad be near;
And a' the warld might ken right weel,
They were twa lovers dear.

But by and rade the Black Douglas,
And wow but he was rough!
For he pull'd up the bonny brier,
An flang't in St. Marie's Loch.

Seven stones were laid to mark the site on Bught Rig GR NT 2700 2864.  The photographer could only find one as there were many fallen trees. They are said to be 'upright', but that does no appear to be the case from this photograph.


These stones according to Sir Walter Scott and local tradition mark the place where the encounter took place between the Seven Brethren sons of one of the Earls of Douglas and Lord William, with whom their sister had eloped, the fugitives were overtaken about a mile from Blackhouse Castle when Lord William encountered and successively killed the whole seven receiving his death wound at the same time. the stones are said to be erected where the Douglases fell(2).


1.  There is a theory that Margaret's father was William Douglas of Liddesdale, though it is also suggested that he ws Margaret's lover.
2.  It seems likely that this event happened on the Douglas Burn, close to Crag of Douglas. However, the stones say otherwise.



Sources for this article include:
  • Sir Walter Scotts Border Minstrelsy Vol [Volume] 3

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    Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024