The Queen’s Mire

Perhaps formerly known as Mosspatrick, the Queen’s Mire is a boggy area between the Priesthaugh and Braidley Burns; a nearby stream, perhaps the source of the bog’s water, is called Queensmire Sike.

The name refers to Mary Queen of Scots’ famous eight-hour round-trip, from Jedburgh to Hermitage Castle and back again, in October 1566. On that cold autumnal day Mary rode horseback through forests and across desolate hills in order to visit the wounded James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell. Her journey has been much romanticised since, and no wonder, given that Hepburn was soon to be accused of the plot to murder Mary’s husband, a conspiracy she herself may have been wrapped-up in. (It should be noted, however, that whilst detractors at the time used Mary’s journey to Hermitage as evidence of adultery, she had in fact waited around six weeks between receiving news of Bothwell’s illness and riding to see him; furthermore, she was accompanied in her journey by her councillors and guards – not such a secret fling, after all.)

Tradition dictates that on her return journey, Mary’s horse got stuck in the mire, the Queen having to dismount and walk her horse through the bog, up to her knees in mud. For several generations after this historic episode, locals could point to the exact point in the Queen’s Mire at which Mary had become stuck. Upon her return to Jedburgh, Mary fell gravely ill, and it has been suggested that her stint in the mire may have played a role in this. Legend also has it that she lost her pocket-watch to the mud, an artifact only recovered two-hundred-and-fifty years later by a local shepherd.