Bunkle (Bonkyl) Kirk is where the Homes, a wealthy local family, had their ancestral tomb. The keystone of the Kirk is all that is left of this now. One person buried here is Lady Margaret Home, or Lady Billy. This old rhyme remembers her murder at Linthill House, Eyemouth, on the 12th August, 1751.

The Lady's gane and Norman's ta'en
Norman wi' the bloody hand
Now he will hae to pay the kain
For being the De'il's command.

Norman Ross wi' pykit pow
Three corbies at his e'en
Girnin' in the gallows tow
Sic a sight was never seen'

Norman Ross, Lady Billy’s butler, broke into her bedroom to rob her. She caught him in the act and a fight ensued. Both were badly injured, resulting later in Lady Billy’s death. R

oss was found guilty of her murder at the High Court in Edinburgh and was publicly hanged. The rhyme fills in more detail of this grisly tale. It makes specific reference to Ross’s hand, which was cut off as part of his punishment. It also creates a gruesome visual of three corbies, or crows, pecking at his head and eyes as his body hangs on the gallows.

Bonkyl Churchyard. Image by Robin Mactaggart.
Bonkyl Churchyard. Image by Robin Mactaggart.

Follow this link to the Dunse History Society website to find out what happens next in this murder most foul: http://www.dunsehistorysociety.co.uk/ladybillie2.shtml

This story appears in various places. It is mentioned in Arthur Granville Bradley's book 'The Gateway of Scotland or East Lothian, Lammermoor and the Merse' (1912) and George Henderson's 'The Popular Rhymes, Sayings and Proverbs of the County of Berwick' (1856). You can read both publications online here:
Bradley: https://www.electricscotland.com/history/gateway/index.htm
Henderson: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=G1oUAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

For more information about the Old Bunkle Kirk, visit Canmore, the online site of the National Record of the Historic Environment: https://canmore.org.uk/site/59688/bunkle-old-church

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