Moors the Pity
Clan Borthwick can boast a long history in the British Isles, the family is rumoured to have come to these shores with the Romans, so yeah, pretty old. Those of you who are familiar with some of the Clan’s symbols may know that the Clan’s motto is Qui Conducit – He Who Leads and their crest shows a man’s head. This is rather odd as clan crests go but the head is there for more than just looking pretty. The head on the crest belonged to a Moor – the North-African Muslims who rose to prominence during the Middle Ages. In 1330 Sir William Borthwick was part of the group charge with taking Robert the Bruce’s heart to the Holy Land. On their way there, the group was attack by Moors in Spain. William, being a fearsome warrior was undaunted and cut the Moorish leader’s head off with a single blow, saving the group in the process. For this reason, the Clan still proudly displays the moors head on its crest, grizzly but true.
Thanks to William’s aforementioned valour, the Clan quickly rose to prominence and were granted lands in Midlothian. It was on these lands that the family built their castle, imaginatively named Borthwick Castle. The castle was, and still is, an impressive fortress, boasting walls up to 4.3m thick and 34m high. Thanks to its strong design the castle was considered a valuable stronghold against invaders – Mary Queen of Scots even hid out there for a while before escaping disguised as a boy. Borthwick Castle only fell once, against Oliver Cromwell’s roundheads in 1650, after several cannon blasts the Borthwick’s negotiated surrender in order to save their home, incidentally the damage from these cannon blasts is the only noticeable damage to the otherwise pristine building. The castle, again thanks to its nearly impenetrable design was used to store national treasures during the Second World War. In modern times the castle operates as a private events venue – the great hall is meant to be a spectacular place for a party.
If any of you Borthwicks out there are looking to glam yourselves up for a party at Borthwick Castle (or any other venue for that matter) ScotlandShop stocks a huge range of clothing and accessories in Clan Borthwick tartan.