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Scottish Borders History

For centuries, the Borders was in constant turmoil as the unsettled boundary between Scotland and England was fought over. It was a conflict not only of national interests, but also of perpetual personal and family jealousies.

The period brought its own language:

Raider, robber, marauder, plunderer.

Literally "black rent" – illegal rent paid (in addition to normal rent to a landlord) to a reiver to buy his protection from raids.

When a man was killed, his family took up the quarrel, not only with the slayer, but with his whole surname, leading to generations of feuding.

Jeddart Justice:
Hang first and try later, i.e. summary execution.

Peel Tower:
A fortified dwelling or tower house, often protected by a palisade. (Latin pilum from which the word is derived).

The pattern of raid and counter-raid was punctuated by occasional full scale expeditions and pitch battles.


The Border line finally established from the Solway to the Tweed.


Dispute over the succession to the Scottish throne and open warfare.


Battle of Bannockburn, near Stirling – the high point of the fight for Scottish independence.


Battle of Otterburn – Douglas against Percy.


Berwick, after changing hands 14 times, was finally held by the English.


Battle of Flodden, near Coldstream, and the death of James IV and the "Flower of Scotland


Battle of Solway Moss, another overwhelming English victory, swiftly followed by the death of James V and the accession of the baby Mary Queen of Scots.


The "Rough Wooing" to enforce the marriage of Mary Queen of Scots to the future Edward VI. The devastation of the Borders by the Earl of Hertford.


Battle of Ancrum Moor, near Jedburgh, where the ballad tells:
Fair maiden Lilliard lies under this stane;
Little was her stature, but muckle was her fame.
Upon the English loons she laid many thumps,
And when her legs were cuttit off,
She fought upon her stumps".


Raid of Redeswire, 10 miles south of Jedburgh at Carter Bar, when the timely arrival of the Jedburgh contingent with their cry "Jethart’s here" turned an apparent defeat into a rout of the English raiders – the last "battle" between Scotland and England.


Union of the Crowns with the accession of James VI of Scotland to the throne of James I.

Produced by Scottish Borders Tourist Board, Shepherd’s Mill, Whinfield Road, Selkirk TD7 5DT.
Tel (01750) 20555. Fax (01750) 21886. E-mail:



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