A recent tour of the Borders
in 2007 by members of the Turnbull Clan Association. The clan had almost 50
members gather in the Borders from Australia, Canada, the United States and
The group gathered around a flag at a ceremony
on the Bedrule Castle mound.
When the Scottish and English
crowns were united 400 years ago, many clans were dispersed throughout
England, Ireland, and the Colonies. Turnbulls were no exception. Then, in
1977, John F. Turnbull of Hawick, one of the few whose family had not been
exiled, was determined to retie the frayed
ends of his bloodline. He founded the Turnbull Clan Association in an effort
to reunite Turnbulls from around the globe. Today, TCA has more than 600
To celebrate the 30th
anniversary of the organization, 46 of the members gathered in Scotland from
United States, Canada, Mexico, and Australia. They spent a week in the
borders, retying the final threads that John had begun piecing together
before his death in 1982.
This wasnít a typical family
reunion, nor was it a simple vacation. The week in the borders was a
pilgrimage of sorts, a visit to the sacred lands where their ancestors had
once walked, the lands their distant cousins still call home. In that
spirit, the Turnbulls began at the beginning. They visited Stirling Castle
where William Rule is said to have turned the bull in Stirling Forest and
saved Scotlandís beloved king Robert the Bruce. A lunch awaited them at Loch
Lomond, and they imagined that William must have also eaten salmon along the
From Stirling, they journeyed
to Hawick. As the group turned on to High Street, they looked up to see the
TCA arms, newly granted by the Lord Lyon, flying high above the Town Hall.
The visitors couldnít help but notice that this reception was a little
warmer than the one their ancestors received four centuries prior.
Historian Walter Elliott talking about the
history of the Bedrule Kirk.
The group paid a special
visit to the Hawick Heritage Hub, which is to be the home of the Turning of
Bull monument. The monument depicts William Rule in his fateful moment of
glory. Angela Hunter, the monumentís sculptor, met the pilgrims at a
reception in their honor.
Other highlights from the
trip included a hike to Minto Craig where the group paid homage to Fatlips
Castle, once a Turnbull stronghold. The visitors were also welcomed with
open arms at Glasgow University, founded by Bishop William Turnbull in 1451.
Performance by the University Choir, lunch in the Turnbull Room, and worship
service in the chapel reminded the group of their proud heritage.
A Turnbull banquet in Denholm
reunited the foreign pilgrims with their Scottish cousins. Over 100 guests
attended the feast, enjoying the performance by Scocha and the history
lessons from celebrated speakers Ian Landles and Alan Brydon.
No pilgrimage is complete
without a prayer in a hidden church at the end of long, dusty road. And this
was no exception. Tucked away in Bedrule, the ancient lands given to William
Rule when he was knighted Sir Turn-e-bull, lies a stone church. This is the
epicenter of the Turnbull sacred lands. The Reverend Anthony Jones conducted
a special service for the 46 visitors and welcomed them home.
The Turnbull flag once again
flew high above the Bedrule Castle mound, and as the lonesome notes sang out
from the bagpipes, it seemed, even if only for a minute, that the pilgrims
were finally home again.
The group after climbing to Fatlips Castle,
For more details contact:
Wally Turnbull, TCA President
5216 Tahoe Drive
Durham, NC 27713