Heritage Festival set to light up iconic Borders sites

In Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, the Scottish Borders Heritage Festival in September is set to be the biggest yet.

Launched today at the National Trust for Scotland’s Harmony Garden in Melrose, the festival will run throughout the whole of September and will celebrate spectacular heritage sites through light, music, storytelling, re-enactment, theatre and performance.

And, in addition to walks, talks and exhibitions, the festival will be hosting new highlight events in castles, tower houses and abbeys, bringing the unique and colourful history of the Scottish Borders alive.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and Live Borders have teamed up to deliver the 2017 festival, working alongside the newly formed Borders Heritage Forum to promote regional heritage and deliver a range of education and training elements. Additional funding has also been provided by Creative Scotland, EventScotland – as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology - and the Fallago Environment Fund.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said:  “The Borders Heritage Festival, now in its ninth year, offers a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our diverse heritage through a series of exciting activities, ranging from theatre to dance, tours and workshops, and includes something for everyone.

“I am pleased the Scottish Government is supporting this year’s festival through the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology Events Fund, and I am confident people of all ages will travel far and wide to the participating sites to explore the myths and legends of the Borders and the people who made them.”

Ewan Jackson, Chief Executive of Live Borders, said: “Through leading on an ambitious funding plan, Live Borders is delighted to be working in partnership with the Council and the Borders Heritage Forum to deliver an enhanced festival with a programme of over 200 events.

“Going forward we hope the festival will continue to go from strength to strength with the Forum playing a crucial role.”

The exciting programme for 2017 includes four new creative commissions that will take place each weekend across the regions: Lighting the Borders, Sounding out the Past, Where Teviot Rins, and Illuminating the Past. The full programme is available on the new festival website – www.scottishbordersheritage.com  

A hard copy programme is widely available across the south of Scotland.

The opening event, ‘Lighting the Borders’, which specifically celebrates Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017, will see over 25 historic locations illuminated with light, story and song from 1-3 September.

Sites taking part include Hume Castle, Peniel Heugh, Smailholm Tower, Fatlips Castle, Eyemouth Fort and Neidpath Castle.

Working in partnership with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and students from Selkirk and Galashiels primary schools, three historic houses (Aikwood Tower, Bowhill House and Abbotsford House) are the setting and inspiration for ‘Sounding out the Past’.  This site specific commission will culminate in a performance in Selkirk on 7 September by the orchestra and pupils.

‘Illuminating the Past’ will see two medieval and early music performances at Melrose and Dryburgh Abbeys incorporating the celebrated ‘Hawick Missal Fragment’.

‘Where Teviot Rins’ will be a bespoke performance presented in the Wilton Lodge Park walled garden in Hawick, celebrating the rich life and history of the River Teviot in story and song.  Stories are being gathered from historic research and local residents and the outcome will be an experience that brings to life the history of the river and its people.

A heritage seminar that explores the myths and legends of the Scottish Borders takes place at the Heart of Hawick on 16 September.

Councillor Euan Jardine, SBC’s Executive Member for Culture and Sport, said: “The Scottish Borders has some of the richest cultural and heritage assets in Scotland and this year’s wide ranging festival programme highlights some the area’s finest examples.

“There is no doubt that this is the biggest and best Borders Heritage Festival programme to date, with a number of unique events taking place which further underline the quality of this area’s history, heritage and archaeology.”

Councillor Mark Rowley, SBC’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development added: “The festival programme really does offer something for everyone, and includes a series of events which will draw in visitors from across the region and far beyond. We are especially pleased to have had the Lighting the Borders’ events recognised as a ‘signature’ event during Scotland’s current themed year.”

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