Scotland approaches the Independence Referendum, most Scots have a
general idea of our national borders but know little of their history
and changes over time. This paper provides basic information and
lesser-known specifics which we hope will interest you.
* * * *
Scotland’s national borders comprise one terrestrial border with England
and several sea borders, two with England and several with other
(the Isle of Man, Ireland, Faeroe, Norway, Denmark, Germany and the
The government of the United Kingdom has
attempted to make unwarranted and illegal changes to both the
terrestrial and the North Sea borders between Scotland and England. All
these changes have been
This paper highlights
the major findings of ‘The National Borders of Scotland’, by Dr James
Wilkie and Edward Means, published in October 2013.That report,
abbreviated here to ‘TNBS’, was written to provide the Scottish people
with complete information on Scotland’s true national borders, including
information on historic and more modern illegal attempts to change them;
and to expose the UK Government's recent and current bad-faith
manoeuvres to change the true borders. The complete TNBS, including
eleven full-colour maps, is available for free download from:
border with England was fixed in 1237 by the Treaty of York, signed by
Alexander II of Scotland and Henry III of England. Even after the 1707
union it remained the boundary between two distinct and independent
legal systems. It runs from the Solway Firth in the west to the mouth of
the River Tweed in the east, mostly using rivers, mountain ridges and
other natural features. There was a tidying-up agreement between the two
kingdoms in March 1552 on the largely featureless so-called Debatable
Lands between the rivers Sark and Esk in the west, but otherwise the now
completely definitive Scotland-England terrestrial border has never been
legally altered in almost eight centuries.
With this, Scotland gave
up a good deal of territory further south, including the town of
Carlisle, where the first Scottish Royal Mint had been set up by King
David I in 1136. The loss of Scottish territory was the price Alexander
paid for the firm and now legally unalterable establishment of the
Scottish/English border on its present line, including the Tweed estuary
south of Berwick.
The true terrestrial
border is depicted in Figure 1 of TNBS. Figure 2 of TNBS depicts the
area north of that border that the UK government unlawfully claims is
part of the County of Northumberland, England.
The English invaded
Scotland and unlawfully occupied the Scottish Royal Burgh of Berwick on
Tweed on a number of occasions between 1296 and 1482. Berwick had
received its founding royal charter from Scotland’s King David I in the
year 1124. The town did not simply “change hands”, as has been alleged,
for even then its Scottish status was never in doubt. These invasions
were military aggression with no constitutional force, and furthermore
were in violation of the 1237 Treaty of York, which established the
border at the River Tweed.
compromise, under the 1502 Treaty of Perpetual Peace, of leaving Berwick
under English administration while remaining part of Scotland,
did not alter the Tweed border. This agreement, resulting from James
IV's betrothal to Princess Margaret Tudor, daughter of the English King
Henry VII, applied only to the town and castle of Berwick. It did not
apply to the landward area of the present Berwick enclave as far north
as Lamberton, which was added in the 19th century.
English law did not
apply in Berwick at the time of the Union in 1707. The recognition of
the Church of England in the Acts of Union by both the Scottish and
English Parliaments did not in any way change the Scottish-English
The UK government’s
Wales and Berwick Act 1746, section 3, unconstitutionally ordained that
henceforth English Law would apply in Berwick-upon-Tweed. It did not
incorporate Berwick into England. The 1746 act was a panic measure in
reaction to the 1745/46 Jacobite scare (like banning tartan and
bagpipes). In August 1850 Queen Victoria underlined the permanent
constitutional validity of the Tweed border when she opened the Royal
Border Bridge, which crosses the Border (the River Tweed) into Berwick.
The entire Wales and
Berwick Act 1746 was repealed by the Interpretation Act 1978. Berwick
remained a separate enclave under English administration. However, in
2009 the Borough of Berwick upon Tweed was abolished and the enclave was
amalgamated with the English County of Northumberland, thereby losing
its identity for the first time in eight centuries. This
unconstitutional gesture has no bearing on Berwick's status as an
English-administered part of Scotland's territory. The actual structure
of that administration is an English internal matter that does not
affect the constitutional reality.
The drafters of UK
legislation have repeatedly assumed in error that the administrative
boundary near Lamberton represents the border. None of this legislation
(including the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999, which
will be discussed later) is of any relevance to the status of Berwick in
the event of Scotland becoming independent.
Berwick has never ceased
to be the natural centre for Berwickshire and the eastern Scottish
Borders. It is very remote from all the major English population centres
and remains oriented towards Edinburgh and the north. Berwick houses the
Home HQ and museum of the King's Own Scottish Borderers, formerly a
Scottish regiment which is now 1st Battalion of the Royal
Regiment of Scotland (Royal Scots Borderers) in the
reorganised Army structure.
Berwick's football team plays in the Scottish league, the local accent
sounds Scottish, and a poll in 2008 showed that 80% of the population
would prefer to come under Scottish government.
The UK government has
made unwarranted and illegal attempts
to redefine the last few miles of the eastern part of the border, which
is the centre of the River Tweed. The true border was redirected at
55°45’43.55”N–02°05’08.42”W. The border line was redirected toward the
north and then eastward to the coast at 55°48'42"N–02°01'54"W
near Lamberton (see the red line in Figure
2 of TNBS). However, since the Treaty
of York was never rescinded, it was not possible to alter the
constitutionally fixed border at the mouth of the River Tweed; therefore
the border movement has no constitutional validity.
The coordinates of the
light are 55°45’53.28”N–1°59’03.12”W.
The breakwater wall was built in 1810-11, presumably to deepen the river
for navigation by narrowing it and thereby increasing the flow. The
satellite image in Figure 3 of TNBS shows quite clearly that the wall
ends almost exactly in the middle of the natural channel of the estuary
so that the harbour light on its end, built in 1826, can be taken to be
the end of the Scotland-England terrestrial border, and the starting
point of the North Sea border as shown in that figure.
happens, the Scottish-English terrestrial border will remain on the line
that existed at the moment of union on 1 May 1707, i.e. from the middle
of the Solway Firth to the middle of the Tweed estuary – a border that
has stood for almost eight centuries.
North Sea Border
In 1968 the UK government
ignored the true North Sea border and set a false border at latitude
55°50'N, near Marshall Meadows about a mile south of Lamberton, by
imposing the Continental Shelf (Jurisdiction) Order 1968. This Order
declared the Scotland-England border, north of which would run Scottish
legal jurisdiction in the North Sea, to be on a line running due east at
55°50'N. The coordinate is obviously erroneous, and was apparently used
just because it is a round figure purportedly representing the latitude
of the end of the coast near Lamberton at 55°48'42"N. This fundamental
error of mistaking the administrative boundary at Lamberton for the
national border is very common among UK legal drafters. In this case
they simply used a slovenly approximation of the administrative
boundary, which has no constitutional significance whatsoever – an error
compounded by the drafters of the 1099 Order (see below) with their
mendacious projection of the boundary line far to the north of the true
border. Figure 4 of TNBS depicts the true and false borders, including
the false border of 1999 described in detail below that figure.
Imposition of the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999
On 13 April 1999 the UK
government promulgated Statutory Instrument 1999 No. 1126, purported to
be Constitutional Law and entitled ‘The Scottish Adjacent Waters
Boundaries Order 1999’. The order was quietly rushed through the UK
Parliament without regard to serious reservations raised by MPs.
Boundaries - internal
waters and territorial sea
For the purposes of the Scotland Act
1998, the boundaries between waters which are to be treated as internal
waters or territorial sea of the United Kingdom adjacent to Scotland and
those which are not, shall be...
specifies the tables in Schedule 1 Part I and Schedule 2 Article 4 as
new North Sea boundary.
These tables are shown in Figure 5 of TNBS.
Besides being a clear
violation of the Treaty and Acts of Union, this transfer has a direct
deleterious effect on the finances of the Government of Scotland in that
no taxes or licence fees derived from activities in the illegally
transferred area are credited to Scotland in the periodic Government
Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) reports.
Documents obtained under
the Freedom of Information Act repeatedly state that construction of sea
borders by using the “equidistance principle” is “the fairest and most
transparent method”. That may indeed be true provided the parties
on both sides agree to the location of the base points. But there was no
such agreement in this situation.
The Order very
conveniently does not identify the base points, but it can be easily
shown through use of 'Google Earth' that the baseline extends from St
Abbs Head in the Borders to Bamburgh Head in Northumberland. All points
on the border shown in the chart are equidistant from these base points.
It is ironic to note what
the situation would be if the equidistance principle were applied at the
true border. The baseline would have to be drawn between the outermost
low water points on each side of the mouth of the River Tweed and the
border projected from the midpoint of the baseline. Depending on the
exact location of the low water marks, the border would be projected at
a bearing of between 105 degrees (the direction of Hamburg) and 130
degrees (the direction of Amsterdam). In either case the Scottish North
Sea area would be increased, not decreased.
Figure 6 of TNBS shows
the true Scottish North Sea border in relation to the Exclusive Economic
Zones of other nations in the central and northern sections of the North
Figure 7 of TNBS shows,
in dark blue, the sea area from which tax and licence revenues from oil
and gas production are credited to Scotland. Notice that the sea area
stolen by Boundaries Order 1999’ – an area of 6,255 statute square miles
– is excluded. There were at least twelve producing oil and gas fields
in the stolen North Sea area. These are listed in Figure 8 of TNBS and
shown on the map in Figure 9.
Each of these oil or gas
fields sends taxes and licence fees to the UK Treasury. Not one penny of
this money is credited to Scotland, thus the GERS report results are
understated – to the disadvantage of Scotland, as customary. Of course
HM Treasury does not publish information in sufficient detail to permit
calculation of the understatement. Even a request under the Freedom of
Information Act would likely be denied on the grounds that such
information is commercially confidential.
Relevant Hansard extracts
quoted in TNBS are proof positive that the 1999 Order was never intended
to apply to anything other than fisheries. That was merely a front for
an act of treachery that we now see developing before our eyes, but it
remains the official purpose for which the 1999 Order was imposed. The
Scottish Government should not let anyone in London get away with any
unauthorized extension to cover oil, gas, minerals, policing etc.
The remainder of TNBS
goes on to discuss Rockall , the Northwestern Seas, and issues
associated with independent Scotland’s relationship with the European
Have a look at the
complete report at: