Early Shotts, we have seen, was known as a dreary moorland place on the
Great Road. Not only was it dreary
in the 15th century it also became highly dangerous because of the exploits
of a giant highwayman called Bertram Shotts, from whom Shotts is said,
with much probability, to derive its name. Bertram was probably
seven or eight feet high, and his hide-out was around Shotts Kirk,
where he held up packmen and pedlars as they journeyed along the
Great Road. So successful was our outlaw that James IV., King of
Scotland, offered a substantial reward for his capture, dead or alive.
A gripping tale is told how a young man John Gilchrist, Laird of Muirhead,
with cunning patience ambushed Bertram Shotts, “ham-strung” him as he
lay down to drink at Kate’s Well, then cut off his head to carryto the King.
As Scott has it in his ”Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border”:-
Afore the King in order stood,
The stout Laird of Muirhead,
I’ that same twa-handed sword,
That Bertram felled, stark dead.
The Laird was afterward killed in 1513 at Flodden.
A relic of Bertram’s exploits is still to be seen in one of his hide-outs,
Law’s Castle, known to old residentsas ths Giant’s Cup and Saucer.
Huge stones they are, standing sentinel in a desolate moorland bowl,
in anunutterable silence, brooding and age old.