Russell’s Cairn

A large prehistoric (possibly Bronze Age) burial cairn featured prominently atop the Border ridge of Windy Gyle. The monument commands extensive views, and can be seen as a major landmark from all directions. Its prominence led to its later reuse as a marker for the Scottish-English border, which it still functions as today. The construct of the cairn has been added to by hill-walkers over the years, and is composed of bare angular rock, measuring about 2.2m in height, and roughly 14m in diameter. The monument takes its name from Lord Francis Russell, son of the 2nd Earl of Bedford, who was slain at this point in July 1585. Russell was in attendance at a meeting of the Wardens of the Marches here, when a fray occurred, resulting in Russell’s death. The English initially stated that the death had been an accident, but later accused Warden of the Middle March, Thomas Ker of Ferniehirst of Russell’s murder. As a result, Ker was committed to ward in Aberdeen, where he died that same year. It is possible that this incident was part of a plot to frame Ker, in an attempt to begin dismantling Mary Queen of Scots’ hold on power (Ker being a Roman Catholic and ardent supporter of Mary’s).