A COMMUNITY group of historians are paying tribute to Thomas the Rhymer with an open air unveiling this weekend.

Locals know Earlston as the birthplace of Sir Thomas Learmonth, also known as Thomas the Rhymer.

But The Friends of Thomas the Rhymer are determined to make his mark on history known to everyone.

And after finishing printing their new guide leaflets last week, they are now ready to unveil them alongside the completed Earlston trail this Saturday.

Visitors can enjoy the coffee morning launch while browsing the many information tables with photos and achievements of the Friends of Thomas group.

Earlston square will also feature fundraising stalls and the opportunity to buy Gwen Hardie’s, founding member of the group, book The Life and Times of Thomas of Ercildune.

Walking from Earlston across to Melrose to see the Rhymer’s stone can take up to two hours so for those interested in just the history of Earlston they can visit five sights in the town.

And five committee members will be on site to take those who are interested around the towns displays.

Sir Thomas Learmonth was a 13th century Scottish laird and poet with a gift of prophecy.

And to which one of Russia’s most famous poets Mikhail Lermontov was a descendant.

Learmonth was also the basis for the literary character Thomas the Rhymer, best known for being carried off by the Queen of Elfland and returning without the ability to tell a lie.

To promote the history of Learmonth in Earlston Friends of Thomas the Rhymer created the walk, boundary signs and leaflets.

Formed in 2007, the group are made up of a small number of curious individuals who want to provide widely available information regarding the life, works and legend of Thomas the Rhymer.

They received funding from the SBC Community Grant Scheme and Earlston Community Council to create the information leaflets and are delighted to finally unveil them to the public.

Gwen Hardie, Chairperson of Friends of Thomas told the Border Telegraph: “We want to make people aware of the history behind our town and all our group has achieved to promote local tourism.

“I’m part of the fifth generation of my family to live in Earlston but had never given the Learmonth connection much thought until I started to run a guest house.

“People were arriving from all over the world to trace our towns wonderful history but there was no information available showing the links between Earlston and Learmonth.

“So, I decided that must come to an end, I founded the group in 2007 and together we produced an information leaflet, three new boundary signs with the birthplace added, and funded the Rhymer’s Thorn plaque.

“Our Facebook page has friends from far and wide and we have even been mentioned in a New York Times article.

“We have also set up a website that people can visit and get the facts and not nonsense.

“There is more to Thomas the Rhymer than just the fairy story, although it is marvellous.”

Living during the time of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, Sir Learmonth is often forgotten about in local history.

However, thanks to The Friends of Thomas he will now have a prominent spot in Earlston for future generations to acknowledge.

The walking trail features various landmarks connected with Thomas including Rhymer’s thorn, Rhymer’s tower, Cowdenknowes, and Rhymer’s stone.

And following the launch, the group will hold their annual Rhymer’s Ramble in October along the route.

Every year, the walk to the Rhymers stone in Melrose attracts people from all over Scotland, often even as far as Italy and Russia.

Members of the group will return the favour as they travel to the Learmonth family gathering in Russia.

Generations of Learmonth’s from across the world have also been invited to the four-day event in July.

The Friends of Thomas the Rhymer group are hoping to translate their new leaflet into Russian to present at the clan event.

Enthusiasts can attend the launch at Earlston Square on Saturday, May 18 at 10.30am.