The Selkirk Silver Arrow

The Selkirk Silver Arrow (cont)

Each year, the Queen’s bodyguard for Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers, compete for the Selkirk Silver Arrow, a competition dating back to 1660. Made from silver plate by a Captain James Fairbairn on the instructions of the then-Selkirk Burgh Council, the arrow was originally competed for in the Royal Burgh by archers all over Scotland, and was first won by Walter Scott (no relation) of Goldielands, south of Hawick.

The competition was originally held only between 1660 and 1675, after which the arrow was stored away in the charter chest in Selkirk, until unearthed by Selkirk’s Sheriff-depute Sir Walter Scott in 1818.  Scott was a member of the Royal Company of Archers, and revived the competition. The rules stated that winners were not allowed to take the arrow out of Selkirk, instead having their “arms” added to it. However, when it was won by Company archer Charles Nairn, it was spirited away to Edinburgh. In 1835, Baillie Clarkson was dispatched to Edinburgh to retrieve it, sadly returning without it.

There the matter rested for 170 years until, when local longbow club the Ettrick Forest Archers was resurrected in 2006, approaches were again made to hand back the arrow. It was agreed that the Royal Company and Selkirk Burgh would each share the arrow, by each having custody for six months annually; in Selkirk’s summer months the arrow is displayed at Halliwell’s Museum, off the Market Place.