The first day of the Clan Hay Society's 2013 tour began yesterday with a dinner at Duns Castle in Berwickshire, hosted by Alick and Aline Hay of Duns. This was an ideal opportunity for the 50 members of Clan Hay taking part in the tour to get to know each other and relax following what, for many, was a gruelling journey. Members have come from as far afield as Norway and the United States as well as from nearer at hand in Scotland.
Duns Castle is based on a medieval Border pele tower but was significantly expanded in the 19th century under the direction of architect James Gillespie Graham, the best known exponent of the style of architecture known as 'Scottish Baronial.
The castle was acquired in 1696 by John Hay, first Earl of Tweeddale, who bought it as a home for his second son. His Hay descendants have occupied this magnificent historic building in the heart of the beautiful Border countryside ever since.
During the course of the evening, Angus Hay - himself a Tweeddale Hay and distant cousin of the Hays of Duns - gave a talk on the history of the Hays which was well received by our guests and which set the scene for a week of visits to Hay properties across Scotland, including Neidpath Castle in Peebles, the Mott of Erroll and Megginch Castle in Perthshire and Delgatie and Slains Castles in Aberdeenshire, taking in visits to Floors Castle and the city of Edinburgh along the way.
The climax of the tour will be the annual Clan Hay Gathering at the Aboyne Highland Games in Aberdeenshire on Saturday.