The Polwarth Thorn is of significant local and historic importance. The two hawthorn trees are located on the former village green and are protected under a Tree Preservation Order administered by the Scottish Borders Council. During 2016, the landowner generously completed improvements to the Thorn and surroundings, and the Community Council donated funds for signage.
The public are welcome to visit the Thorn at reasonable hours. Car parking is available. Please respect the landowner’s privacy, and keep dogs on leads.
An anonymous verse of unknown date relates that:
Our forbears oft are seen
To dance about the thorn
When they got in their corn.
The original Polwarth Thorn had pride of place in the centre of the village green and the tradition arose of newly married couples dancing around it to bestow good fortune on their union. Allen Ramsey (1686-1758) wrote in ‘Polwarth, On The Green’:
At Polwarth on the Green,
If you’ll meet me in the morn,
Where lads and lasses do convene,
To dance around the thorn.
According to the Forestry Commission in ‘Heritage Trees of the Borders and Beyond’, Donald Rodger states that, over the centuries, the thorn has been replaced at intervals by its own saplings and there are, currently, two trees of unknown age, protected by law and iron railings, on the site. Others maintain that the present trees are over three hundred years old.
In the middle of the sloping village green there stood two very old thorn trees. It was the custom in times past, on the occasion of a marriage, as part of the celebrations, for all the villagers to dance around the trees. This old custom, which had prevailed for over 300 years, was discontinued during the 19th century. It would appear that the villagers celebrated the harvest in the same fashion.