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Border Reivers
Kindly contributed by Linda Bruce Caron


  • Introduction
    The dull thundering of hooves in the distance would send fear into the hearts of families gathered around the fire.
  • The Land
    The land itself follows the Cheviot Hills, which is the main barrier between England and Scotland made up of treeless areas, valleys, gullies which are bleak, lonely with an eternal breeze and ridge after ridge of rough grass.
  • Border Names
    The Reivers came from families who "rode with the moonlight" with their "lang spears" and their "steill bonnets." There are 77 predominant family names who can claim to have been Reivers.
  • Fortresses
    Four great Border Abbeys - Melrose, Dryburgh, Kelso and Jedburgh - can still be seen today in ruin. They were attacked by various armies, including Edward I (the Hammer of the Scots) and Henry VIII during the rough wooing.
  • The Border Reiver
    The Border Reiver was a unique figure but he was not a separate minority group. It cannot be said that Reivers came from the lower classes because they came from all walks of life. Some did live in outlaw bands but most were just members of the community.
  • Raiding
    The size of the raid determined how many men would ride. Some of the raids would consist of a large group of men and could last for days. Smaller raids might be a quick moonlight ride, a quick plunder and disappear back to their homes.
  • Clothing, Types of Weaponry, and Armour
    A Reiver's choice of weapons, clothing and horses allowed him to move with speed. The elements of surprise, boldness, cunning and speed, were necessary for a successful raid. Great importance was placed on a Reiver's mount. They chose horses for agility and stamina.
  • Reiver Battles and Feuds
    Whoever won, the border people bore the brunt for almost 300 years - the late 13th century to the middle of the 16th century.
  • Feuds or Deadly Feids
    When a man was killed his whole family became involved in a feud with the family who had done the killing. Reprisals were not just against the killer's immediate family but against anyone with the same surname. These feuds could last for generations.
  • The End of the Reivers
    Many Reivers ended their lives in the same way. They were tried and hanged on the gallows at Carlisle or Newcastle. Actually, they may not have been tried as we know it, but instead were condemned.
  • Bibliography and Other Information

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