Borders Region

In writing this description of the Scottish Borders, one is indebted to John Sadler’s book “Border Fury, England and Scotland at War 1296-1568”.

Castles, tower houses and peles/peels still abound, such as Smailholm near Kelso, and Hollows Tower near Canonbie. The battlefields at Heavenfield, Flodden, Otterburn, Hedgeley Moor and the Reidswire are visible but other sites such as Carham, Homildon, Ancrum Moor, Pinkie, Haddon Rigg are less obvious.

From Berwick to the Solway is no more than 70 miles as the crow flies. The line of the Border is nearer 120 miles with the hump of the Cheviot massif rising to 2,500 ft at the highest point. By the mid 13th century the governance of the region on both sides fell to March Wardens, indentured servants whose duty was to control and defend their constituency. Often this extended to warden raids with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of light horse with levies of garrison troops sweeping through the opposing march. Teviotdale and Annandale were frequent targets.

The sheriffdoms of Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles together with the ‘County of Liddisdail’ made up the Scottish Middle March. From the Tweed above Carham to the Hanging Stone the district abutted the English East March. And then westward to Kershopefoot along the barren rise of the Cheviot Hills it adjoined the middle and finally the last seven miles the West March. Hawick was, as it remains, the principal town of Teviotdale sharing its prominence with Jedburgh, Kelso and Selkirk. Liddesdale was sufficiently lawless to merit its own warden – the Keeper of Liddesdale who resided at Hermitage Castle.

The Border Irvings & Irvines, with control of a good number of Towers at Bonshaw, Stapleton, Robgill, Woodhouse, Wysebie, Cove, Braes, Kirkconnel and Kirkpatrick, command of over a hundred light horse, the Clan was one of the main ‘riding names’ or ‘reivers’ of the Borders.