Sir Walter Scott’s novel ‘The Bride of Lammermoor’ (1819) is set in the Lammermuir Hills and tells of an ill-fated romance between two young lovers from feuding families. The story is believed to have been inspired by real life events and a favourite fireside tale of the young Walter Scott’s mother.
Scott is believed to have stayed for a time in Gifford, riding around the area getting ideas for this novel. Nunraw House – a 19th-century mansion including remnants of a 16th-century tower house – is thought to be the real life ‘Ravenswood’, the castle featured in the novel.
Historian and writer Arthur Granville Bradley (1850-1943) connects this area to Scott’s novel when he describes key scenes of the two tragic lovers:
‘I had made up my mind in youth … that this was the scene of the unhappy loves of Edgar and Lucy; that the woody burn in the grounds was that same one where they broke the coin and plighted their troth … that the village kirk of Garvald, just below, was the scene of those two gruesome and near events, the marriage and the funeral of the bride. ‘
Sir Walter Scott was a popular writer in the 19th century. His romantic novels had a lasting influence on the modern cultural identity of Scotland. Tales of adventure, often inspired by real events, were re-set and re-told against dramatic Scottish landscapes, creating a lasting romantic appeal which can still be felt today in Scotland’s tartan-covered brand identity.