The dull thundering of hooves in the distance would send fear into the hearts of
families gathered around the fire.
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.
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.
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.
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.