Subject: Outlawry in Sixteenth Century Scotland
From: Jeffrey Johnstone <>
Date: 8/25/2021, 8:19 PM

Outlawry in Sixteenth Century Scotland



Dryfe Sands

A Novel of Scotland&rsquo:s Bitterest Clan Feud

Now available as hardcover, e- book and paperback on Amazon

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     Dryfe Sands has readers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, and Australia!


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      In the novel Dryfe Sands, and as a matter of historical fact, eleven year-old Robert Johnstone of Raecleuch was outlawed after the Battle of Dryfe Sands. The ceremony of declaring a person an outlaw in sixteenth century Scotland involved three blasts of a trumpet or horn, and was known as horning. An outlaw was "put to the horn."

    I wondered what an eleven year-old outlaw might have done during the year between the Battle of Dryfe Sands Sands in December 1593 and the King's Respite in December 1594, but I could find nothing in the historical records. To fill in the gap I used my imagination and wrote a fanciful short story in which Robert Johnstone of Raecleuch joins up with two veteran Border reivers and has wild adventures.  Ultimately, that short story developed into the novel Dryfe Sands, and the episodes constitute one of the purely fictional portions of the novel.

    This part of the novel makes numerous references to the word "horn" in its various meanings and with words having English, Latin, and classical Greek roots. 

  • In Robert’s dream during his convalescence form a battle wound, he sees himself with deer antlers ("Hart's horns"), perhaps as an avatar of the Celtic horned god Cernunnos as was Myrddin Wyllt (Merlin).
  • When Robert is imprisoned by English soldiers in Carlisle, the novel describes his predicament as coming out the little end of the horn.
  • Robert’s reiver companion, Wantoune Pyntill, is said to have rendered many a husband a cuckold, a man traditionally depicted as having horns.
  • In Latin, the word horn is "cornu"  and in the novel Robert and his reiver companions treat each farm that they plunder as a cornucopia ("horn of plenty").
  • A reiver with a prominent wart on his nose has a nasicornous ("horn nosed") visage.
  • In classical Greek, the word for horn is "keras" or "ceros," and there are English words with that root, such as rhinoceros ("horn nose").
  • In the novel the old woman Brigde gives Robert a potion made from a plant called anthoceros ("flower horn"). 

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Cernunnos - The Celtic Horned God of the Forest


Jeffrey Johnstone | 62 Babcock Drive, Rochester, NY 14610
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