South Scotland

Ownership solution sought for Rhymer's Tower in Earlston

Rhymer's Tower Image copyright Scottish Borders Council

A bid is being made to clear up ownership issues over the remains of a tower linked to a 13th Century poet.

Scottish Borders Council hopes to re-establish a trust responsible for the care and upkeep of the B-listed Rhymer's Tower in Earlston.

It is believed to stand on the site of the castle originally built by Thomas Learmont, known as Thomas the Rhymer.

It is hoped that a re-established trust could access funds if future repairs are required.

Thomas The Rhymer - also known as Thomas of Erceldoune - was a poet and prophet born in Earlston around 1220 and later celebrated by Sir Walter Scott.

According to the Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature he was said to have predicted - "among other events" - the death of Alexander III, the Battle of Bannockburn and the accession of James VI to the throne.

"He was sometimes known as 'True Thomas' and said to have the same powers as Merlin," it added.

'Much later date'

The 19th-century Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov also claimed him as an ancestor.

The tower named after him is thought to stand on the site of the castle he built as archaeological assessments found the structure now standing is of "much later date" than the 13th century.

Ownership of the building was given to a group of trustees in the 1960s and the organisation was later resurrected in 1994.

However, a council report said it was "not clear" what had happened to the trust since the late 1990s.

It is now being recommended that the Rhymer's Tower Trust be re-established in order to clarify who owns the site.

That could then allow funding from outside bodies to be sought to help maintain the building as well as help tackle access issues at the site.

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