Nestled against the north-western flanks of Ruberslaw, this sheltered woody glen charts the course of the Dean Burn for about a mile before joining the River Teviot near Denholm. A quiet and beguiling part of the world, visitors to the Dean may be forgiven for thinking they’ve set foot in a enchanted land – in fact, in an 1898 article the Border Magazine called the place “Denholm’s Fairy Dean”.
The Dean was long the property of the Laird of Cavers, who – during the late 17th century – was a fervent Covenanter. When the newly-unified church began its persecution of the Covenanters, locals supportive of the Laird and his cause were forced to resort to secret conventicles and prayer meetings in hidden places, such as Peden’s Pulpit on Ruberslaw, and Peden’s Vale in Denholm Dean. In 1730, the Laird constructed a cottage to be used as a hunting lodge next to the site of Peden’s Vale.
Toward the close of the 19th century the hunting lodge was converted into a teahouse, and Denholm Dean became a pleasure garden, replete with wildflowers and a wealth of trees (previously including the King and Queen o’ the Dean, which were swept away in the great flood of 9th August 1806). Whilst ownership remained in the hands of the Laird of Cavers, access to the garden was open to all. Bridges were constructed, and pathways made wide enough for a horse-drawn carriage – Hawick folk would often ride out to take tea or picnic in the Dean. Into the 20th century, the cottage became a woodcutter’s lodging, and was used so until finally, in 1948, the site was abandoned, and the roof removed. Today, you can still find the ruins of this historical building on a high bank, about a mile along the burn from the Teviot.
‘in this beautiful dell, in the shade of the verdant foliage, even on the warmest of day in summer, one can feel as cool as the proverbial cucumber, young and old can spend days and days in restful idling. Cosy garden benches are placed in retired nooks, and here young lovers can make love to their hearts content.’
- Denholm as a holiday resort, The Border Magazine, Nov. 1898