the Caa Knowe (thu-kaw-now) n. place where the Burgess Roll was traditionally read after the perambulation of the marches, being the extremity of the Common, at a site also known as the Hero’s Grave. This was formerly the location of an ancient cairn, which was broken up for stones in 1811, and apparently a burial cist was found. Some flints and a bronze spearhead were also found nearby in the late 19th century. The implication of this connection between this important location on the Common and an ancient burial mound is that the site was locally significant for many centuries. And although there is no explicit evidence of continuous use, there is also no indication of when the site was adopted for the mustering of the Burgesses. The reading of this roll became officially unnecessary after the division of 1777, and was specifically impossible at that site, since ownership had been transferred to the Duke of Buccleuch. The ceremony was nevertheless still carried out, although moved to near the top of Bailie’s Hill, and for many decades the original site was known as the ‘Auld Caa Knowe’. The Callants’ Club erected a cairn to mark the spot in 1911, and the site and access path were given to the town by the Duke of Buccleuch in 1937. The plaque reads ‘1537 – Ca’ Knowe – 1937. On this spot, from the granting of the Charter by Douglas of Drumlanrig in 1537 until the division of the Common in 1777, the Burgess Roll was called at the Annual March Riding. The cairn was erected by the Hawick Callant Club 1911. The ground was gifted to the Town of Hawick by His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch – October 1937’. It remains an important symbolic location on the Friday of the Common Riding, although the riders only come as close as the extremity of the modern Common, a little to the north, for the SodCutting ceremony – ‘. . . and that all Burgesses attend the Baillies to-morrow at the Call Know, and at ye Cross on foot or horseback, under the penalty of ten pounds Scots’ [BR1743], ‘. . . at the Common-Riding all the Burgesses of Hawick were called over by name from a Roll at the Callknow, and if any of them were absent the Magistrates might have fined them . . . ’ [C&L1767], ‘At the Ca-knowe we halt a little; Slack our girths, and ease the cripple’ [AB] (often written ‘Ca’ Knowe’, or ‘Ca’-knowe’, and meaning simply the ‘call hill’; it could be ‘the great Know’ along the south side of which the old boundary of the Common was described to run in 1767).
Ca Knowe Cairn
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