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Although Bowden is clearly referred to in various early 12th century charters by King David I relating to the settlement of a group of Tyronesian monks in the area, specific mention of the present day name is vague and history appears to have drawn a veil over the definitive origin. Legend leaves us with a choice of interesting possibilities. Reference is made in those early documents to Bothenden, Botheldene and Boulden - names which may have been derived from St. Bothan or Bodwin which, with the passage of time, were abbreviated to Boulden and subsequently to Bowden. Again, it has been suggested that the original name of Botheldene derives from a literal translation of two old English words meaning 'the valley with the building', which could refer to the ancient Kirk or some such old building set in the valley of Bowden Burn.
In the period from 1250 to 1567, Bowden was the principal agricultural village in the Barony and was governed by a Provost appointed by the monks. At that time the village rented land from the monks. In 1643 a charter was granted to Robert, Earl of Roxburgh then resident at Holydean, giving him ownership of the Barony and he extended rights of common land to the villagers.
Over many centuries Bowden was predominantly an agricultural village with most of the cottages working small holdings. In the 18th century an important cottage industry grew up in the village - that of weaving. Flax was grown in the surrounding crofts and woven into linen in the village. Early in the 19th century, the weavers began to move away to the larger Border towns where wool weaving was rapidly becoming popular. Despite this exodus, the village continued to thrive and a requirement for a village school continued until eventual closure in 1943.
The village today has physically changed little from that of last century and its early industrial development has now given way to a mainly residential area. Conservation status was granted to the village in 1970.
The ownership of Bowden Common Land amounting to some 26 acres is in the hands of a body of Trustees, formally constituted as Bowden Village Committee in 1972, operating instead of and with the same status as a Community Council.
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