Online Encyclopedia

EILDON HILLS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 134 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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EILDON HILLS, a group of three conical hills, of volcanic origin, in Roxburghshire, Scotland, 1 m. S. by E. of Melrose, about equidistant from Melrose and St Boswells stations on the North British railway. They were once known as Eldune—the Eldunum of Simeon of Durham (fl. 1130)—probably derived from the Gaelic aill, " rock," and dun, " hill "; but the name is also said to be a corruption of the Cymric moeldun, " bald hill." The northern peak is 1327 ft. high, the central 1385 ft. and the southern 1216 ft. Whether or not the Roman station of Trimontium was situated here is matter of controversy. According to General William Roy (1726–1790) Trimontium—so called, according to this theory, from the triple Eildon heights—was Old Melrose; other authorities incline to place the station on the northern shore of the Solway Firth. The Eildons have been the subject of much legendary lore. Michael Scot (1175-1234), acting as a confederate of the Evil One (so the fable runs) cleft Eildon Hill, then a single cone, into the three existing peaks. Another legend states that Arthur and his knights sleep in a vault beneath the Eildons. A third legend centres in Thomas of Erceldoune. The Eildon Tree Stone, a large moss-covered boulder, lying on the high road as it bends towards the west within 2 M. of Melrose, marks the spot where the Fairy Queen led him into her realms in the heart of the hills. Other places associated with this legend may still be identified. Huntly Banks, where "true Thomas " lay and watched the queen's approach, is half a mile west of the Eildon Tree Stone, and on the west side of the hills is Bogle Burn, a streamlet that feeds the Tweed and probably derives its name from his ghostly visitor. Here, too, is Rhymer's glen, although the name was invented by Sir Walter Scott, who added the dell to his Abbotsford estate. Bowden, to the south of the hills, was the birthplace of the poets Thomas Aird (1802–1876) and James Thomson, and its parish church contains the burial-place of the dukes of Roxburghe. Eildon Hall is a seat of the duke of Buccleuch.
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