Virtute Parta

Virtute Parta

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Update on Corehead Archaeology Dig

Tomorrow is the third day of the dig to locate Corehead tower. So far we have dug five test pits in the vicinity of the plantation behind the current Corehead farmhouse.
View towards the Devil's Beef Tub
The first weekend was spent walking the land in the wood looking for possible clues and identifying the rectangular earthwork that was visible on a 1951 aerial photograph, prior to the planting of the wood. Two pits were started in the earthwork and after the removal of earth and smaller stones,larger stones were discovered deliberately placed on top of each other.
It is difficult to say at this stage if they are the foundations of a building or an earlier stone dyke.
Pit 1

Last weekend three pits were dug just outside the wood on a green mound which appears to have the shape of a building.

'Quarry' site 

 Oral tradition says this was used as a quarry and despite some promising lumps and bumps this does appear to have been used for stone clearance and later as a midden for the farm. Everything from 19th century bottles and plates to toothpaste tubes were uncovered. However there was one piece of pottery that excited Jane our visiting archaeologist.This unglazed rim from a vessel has tentatively been dated as medieval.

  The days are short just now and our work stops about 3.00pm but the low sun of winter and days of frost and light snow are useful for detecting ancient human activity in the landscape. Here beside where we are working can clearly be seen the green ridges of medieval 'rig and furrow' cultivation.

Rig and Furrow

This weekend we will return to the wood and extend trenches 1&2 and hopefully find some signs of human habitation.

The sun sets and the moon rises over Corehead 

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Archaeology Dig at Corehead

Tomorrow and for the next three successive Sundays in November will see the start of an archaeological excavation to locate the site of Corehead Tower. Many Halliday readers will know that the Dumfriesshire family have long been associated with Corehead. This stems from the legend that Tom Halliday who lived at Corehead was nephew to William Wallace the Scottish guerrilla leader during the Scottish Wars of Independence. The earliest record for this association appears in The Wallace a poem written in Scots by Blind Harry about 1477. Historians and scholars have dismissed much of the poems contents as fiction and yet there are elements within which on closer examination bear some element of truth. This is something I will return to later.

Black and white photos from Clarence Halliday early 1960's book

The poem does not mention a tower or castle only that they stayed at 'the Corhead'.A later Border Ballad called The Sang of the Outlaw Murray also refers to the Halliday family of Corehead. Yet despite searching for many years I have not yet found any charter or reference to a land transaction that connects the family specifically to Corehead.
It is known that the Bruce family were Lords of Annandale from 1124 and later the Douglases were granted the lands of Moffat and Corehead in the 14th century. They held them until the 1550s  when Johnstone of Craigieburn purchased them.This branch of the Johnstone clan then took the title Johnstone of Corehead.They  had other towers at Cornal,Corehead and Lochhouse.   .
The earliest surviving record  of a tower at Corehead  appears in a map of 1597 which depicts the tower at the head of Annandale.

The Johnstone family continued to live at Corehead farmhouse until the late 19th century.

In 2009 the farm and surrounding hill land around the Devil's Beef Tub was purchased by the Borders Forest Trust.

Tomorrow a small team of volunteers and archaeologists will begin the hunt for the tower. The area will need to be cleared of fallen trees and test pits will be dug at promising sites. All very exciting

Saturday, 16 July 2011

New Web Site Launched

Finally after months of planning my new web site has been launched thanks to the team at Evolution Design in Edinburgh. This offers a fully comprehensive range of  family history services. From locating births,marriages and deaths to house histories,photography and transcription of old handwriting.If any of you think there is something or someone I am able to help then please get in contact:

Twitter: @scotsgen


Saturday, 28 May 2011

Halliday Hill

There are two Halliday Hills located in Dumfriesshire: one in Annandale and one in Nithsdale.This photo is the one in Annandale taken on the farm road adjacent to the minor road between Dalton and Dumfries. There is no documented evidence that Hallidays gathered here before going on a raid.

The hill has a commanding panoramic view over Annandale to the Solway Firth and the Border. In the R.C.Reid collection a John Carruthers,Laird of Mousewald obtained a charter from John Halliday of Hoddom on 31 May 1439.This John Carruthers was later Captain of Lochmaben Castle in 1446.Reid was inclined to believe that possibly the name Hallidayhill until recently part of Hoddom estate,is derived from this family- the Hallidays of Hoddom.George Black in his 'Surnames of Scotland' held the same view.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Arms of Robert Douglas Halliday of Coldbrook,Island of St Croix

Arms of Robert Douglas Halliday Esquire of Coldbrook in the Island of St Croix: Argent a Sword erected in Pale proper hilted and pommelled Or the last within a crescent in base Gules in a dexter Canton Azure a Saltyr of the Field.

Crest:   A Boars head couped Argent armed Or
Motto:  Virtute Parta
28 March 1775

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Early Map of Corehead :1590

This is a map of the opposite borders of Scotland and England. It is from an atlas that belonged to William Cecil Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s Secretary of State. Burghley used this atlas to illustrate domestic matters. This map is interesting because it shows the debatable lands, these were lands between the borders of Scotland and England, claimed by neither and subsequently a lawless no-man’s land. Lord Burghley has annotated the map, adding place names at points along the river which forms part of the border, and the river immediately to the right of this which lies on English soil. The title, "A Platt of the opposete Borders of Scotland to ye west marches of England" appears on the reverse with the date: "Dec. 1590". The original is held in the British Library,London.

 Corehead Tower which was probably built about 1570 was owned by the family of Johnstone of Corehead.The tower was probably on the site of earlier fortifications and perhaps the location for William Wallace meeting his nephew Tom Halliday. The tower on the map is the very top one on the left handside.It is possible to zoom in on the British Library site.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Halliday Heraldry

This is the earliest representation of the Halliday arms recorded in Scotland. They are depicted in a document held in the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh and originally were in a manuscript known as Workman's MS. This is believed to have been compiled c. 1565.

It shows the saltire of Scotland or St Andrew's Cross,the crescent and sword. Variations of this theme were matriculated by Hallidays in the following centuries.Unfortunately no name is given to who owned these arms.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


 On 3 Dec 1541 Sir Thomas Wharton the English Warden of the West March reported to the Privy Council the

Slaughters and cruell murdures commytted and doyn within the Kinges highnes West Marches of England by Scotish men at sundry tymes sithens the begynnyng of the peace,agaynst the trewes as foloweth .

Andro Forster, John Forster, John Gray ,Alan Forster, Jok Haliday, Andro Armstrang Scotishmen comme to Dermaynstedes in Ingland,and there cruelly slewe and murdered Richy Blaikburn Inglishman.’

The same band of individuals appear again for similar cross border forays.

Alane Forster, Gerge Forster, John Haliday, Willy Forster, John Gray and there complices, Scotishmen, to the nombre of XL men, comme to a place in Gilleslond called Kyng and there cruelly slewe and murdered John Crawe, Thomes Crawe and Thomas Crawe younger. (Bain,J. 1890 The Border Papers)

Halliday Border Reivers

I shall post a few extracts from original records of incidents on the Border where individual Hallidays took part. There are no records of the family organised as a fighting unit like the better known Johnstones and Armstrongs.Rather they participated with different Border families both on the Scots and English sides.

In 1554  Donald Halieday was listed for escheat of all gudis  with numerous Johnstones, Bells, Carruthers and Charteris of Amisfield, were denuncit rebellis and put to the horne for coming in the month of August last to the place of William Kirkpatrick of Kirkmichael and there spoiling and away taking of his gudes and geir and cruelly slaying Roger Kirkpatrick, wounding and hurting Robert and Alex Kirkpatrick. (Registrum Secreti)

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A Halliday! A Halliday! Lets Get Organised

Ok,enough procrastination,lets get a proper global communication going between all Hallidays with roots in Scotland and lets see where we share our heritage and family connections. Due to other genealogy commitments I have let this lapse but with the New Year I am determined to get the ball rolling and see what develops. I will continue to post historical,biographical and genealogical stories of interest and will welcome enquiries from others.We have several members of the clan in Australia,NewZealand,Canada and USA who have done a considerable amount of research and now we really need to share that with others.
I am currently writing an MSc thesis  The Fiction of Identity; Has Scottish Literature Invented My Family History ? which takes a close critical examination of the writings of mostly 19th century antiquarians and how they invented what we believe to be the Halliday family history.
How many times have you seen written on the web and in publications that:
  1.  Tom Halliday of Corehead was the nephew of William Wallace
  2.  They had a tower/castle at Corehead
  3. The Halliday family took part in the Crusades
  4. They were Border Reivers
  5. They were Covenanters
  6. The family gathered on Halliday Hill before embarking on a raid into England
  7. The origins of the name from a war cry,Latin,Old English etc
  8. We are descended from Picts,Celts Anglo-Saxons
Hopefully you and I will be able to set the record straight and who knows in the future compile a new up to date publication about our family history and origins. There will be another Clan gathering in Scotland in 2014 and it would be great if we could aim to join this with our other Border neighbours the Moffats and the Johnstons.Plenty to think about so please contribute with your stories and thoughts.
I can be contacted at email