In celebration of Scotland’s Year of Stories, a specially commissioned video is being released by community group, Visit Kelso, to tell the story of Sir Walter Scott’s first love.
Scott, who is best known for his connection to Abbotsford, spent time throughout his childhood with his relatives at Rosebank in Kelso. During one of these stays, when Scott was about 16 years old, he fell in love for the first time, with a Kelso lassie known only as Jessie, and began writing her letters and poems.
Even from a young age, Scott demonstrated his superior skills as a wordsmith – when attempting to woo Jessie, he wrote: “Lassie, can you love me weel/ Ask your heart and answer true/ Doth that gentle bosom feel/ Love for one who loveth you?” Unfortunately for Scott, Jessie did not return the affection, and he subsequently penned: “To Roxburgh’s crumbling walls I hie/ Or to the ruined Abbey fly/ Seeking mid relics of the past/ The pleasures they once round me cast/ But monuments of days of yore,/ I find can int’rest me no more/ The more I seek the more I see,/ The more I long to be with thee.” Kelso’s iconic landmarks were central to Scott’s outpouring of heartbreak.
First of four stories
The story is one of four short films commissioned by Visit Kelso as part of the Visit Scotland Destination and Sector Marketing Fund. The group’s remit is to promote Kelso and the surrounding area, and the project, called Tales frae Kelsae, focusses on telling four lesser-known stories of the town as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories. Chair of Visit Kelso, Tina Newton said: “We are thrilled to be able to tell these wonderful stories of Kelso and the surrounding area, ensuring the town is on the world stage as part of the Year of Stories. What better way to launch the series than with a love story with Sir Walter Scott as the main character for a change.”
The story of Sir Walter Scott’s first love was put forward by Alasdair Hutton ( pictured above), writer and storyteller, who is also the narrator of all four stories. Alasdair commented: “It is a great honour to help portray Kelso to the wider world having represented it on both the international stage in the European Parliament and the local stage as Convener of Scottish Borders Council. Sir Walter Scott called Kelso the most beautiful, if not the most romantic village in Scotland and it still is Scotland’s bonniest town.”
Visit Kelso will release three further Tales frae Kelsae over the coming months; James Douglas and the Taking of Roxburgh Caste, Freddie the Wonder Horse, and Kelso Abbey’s Commercial Monks.