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Legends and Traditions
The Worme of Linton

CROSSING the Border into Roxburghshire, we approach the haunts of the Worme of Linton, and very romantic they are. There is the mountain stream of the Kale, bursting in brightness from the Cheviot Hills, and hurrying into the plain below, where it pauses, ere it wends its way to join the Teviot; there is the low, irregular mound, marking where stood the Tower of Linton, the stronghold of the Somervilles; there is the old village church, standing on its remarkable knoll of sand; there are the stately woods of Clifton, and, above all, the lofty heights of Cheviot crowning the distance.

Such is the fair scene which tradition avers was once laid waste by a fierce and voracious monster. His den, still named the "Worm’s Hole," lay in a hollow to the east of the Hill of Linton; and small need had he to leave it, for from this retreat he could with his sweeping and venomous breath draw the neighbouring flocks and herds within reach of his fangs. Still he did occasionally emerge and coil himself round an eminence of some height, at no great distance, still bearing the name of Wormington or Wormiston. Liberal guerdons were offered to any champion who would rid the country of such a scourge, but in vain—such was the dread inspired by the monster’s poisonous breath. Not only were the neighbouring villagers beside themselves with terror, but the inhabitants of Jedburgh, full ten miles off, were struck with such a panic that they were ready to desert their town.

At last, however, the Laird of Lariston, a man of reckless bravery, came forward to the rescue of this distressed district; and, as the Linton cottagers testify to this day, having once failed in an attack with ordinary weapons, he resorted to the expedient of thrusting down the worm’s throat a peat dipped in scalding pitch and fixed on his lance. The device proved perfectly successful. The aromatic quality of the burning pitch, while it suffocated and choked the monster, preserved the champion from the effects of its poison-laden breath. While dying, the worm is said to have contracted its folds with such violent muscular energy that the sides of Wormington Hill are still marked with their spiral impressions. In requital of his service, the Laird of Lariston received the gift of extensive lands in the neighbourhood.

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