Latest news from Berwick U3A

As an advance notice, our next open day is on Monday, May 9, when we will be having a talk by Alexa Seagrave on Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels, so you can get the date into your diaries.

Sunday, 1st May 2016, 08:00 am

There was a crooked man who walked a crooked mile – not a description of U3A members on the latest Historic Villages trip to Duns, but they did learn of the possible connection between their destination and this children’s rhyme.

From Iron Age hill fort to picturesque little town, the quiet Duns of today belies a savage past of treachery and beheadings.

The group learned also of the routing of the English Army by local shepherds and the farmers of Duns. They used a type of rattle made out of dried skins with pebbles inside, normally employed to scare wild animals from crops. These rattles were so frightening to the English horses that the camp woke in turmoil and the English retired over the Border, leaving baggage behind.

This is the source of the town’s motto, Duns Dings A! and the local nickname, Duns Dingers.

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Readers may be interested to hear about one of my ancestors, William Jeffrey. In 1751 toll bars were set up in Duns, one in the East, and one in the West of the village. William Jeffrey, and others, found these tolls most infuriating and burnt them down each time they were set up again.

The Sheriff’s men caught some of the ringleaders and put them in jail in Jedburgh, but my ancestor escaped abroad to America.

The next outing of the Historic Villages group is to Barmoor on Monday, May 16.

The Theatre Group had a very enjoyable trip to The Kings Theatre in Edinburgh this month to see a production of The Thirty Nine Steps, based on the novel by John Buchan.

It was a slick and very amusing production, with four actors ingeniously playing all the roles.

The new Backgammon Group met this month. There was a lot of learning and an equal amount of laughter. Playing backgammon brought out a range of personality traits, which caused hilarity and brought the members closer as a group.

The next meeting is on Tuesday, May 3, at 2pm, in St Aidan’s Hall.

Members and non-members can check up on the majority of our activities, and details of group leaders to contact, on our website at