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For centuries alternating tides of Scots and English men-at-arms ebbed and flowed across the no-man's land of the Borders, while between invasion and counter-attack the Reivers went about their business dealing death, destruction, theft and extrortion wholesale. Dangerous days indeed, we can only shudder at the harsh capricious nature of life then. Wealthy families built peel fortifications such as this fine example- Dryhope Tower, fortified and robust they were state of the art protection for their troubled and lawless times.

In 1550 Mary Scott, the "Flower of Yarrow" was born here, in due course she became the wife of Watt Scott of Harden, no stranger to raids south in Cumbria. One of his direct descendants, Sir Walter Scott was destined to play a more positive role in the jurisprudence of the area becoming the Sheriff of Selkirkshire. Walter Scott was a sickly child and spent time recuperating at his granparent's Sandyknowe Farm near Smailholm Tower not far away. Time at Sandyknowe no doubt encouraged the putative novelist's interests in the tales of romance and derry-doing of these dangerous days. And later Peel Towers were to feature in his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border".

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Taken on July 24, 2011