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You may find this relevant information helpful when researching the area prior to your visit

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:

Reiver: Raider, robber, marauder, plunderer.

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

Feud: 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.

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

1215 The Border line finally established from the Solway to the Tweed.

1286 Dispute over the succession to the Scottish throne and open warfare.

1314 Battle of Bannockburn, near Stirling – the high point of the fight for Scottish independence.

1388 Battle of Otterburn – Douglas against Percy.

1482 Berwick, after changing hands 14 times, was finally held by the English.

1513 Battle of Flodden, near Coldstream, and the death of James IV and the "Flower of Scotland

1542 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.

1544 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.

1545 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".

1575 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.

1603 Union of the Crowns with the accession of James VI of Scotland to the throne of James I.

PEEBLES BELTANE WEEK - with Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 the burgh revived the old ceremony of riding the marches, linking it with the Beltane Fair, which traced its origins to a charter granted by James VI in 1621. Beltane signifies the fire of Bell or Baal and originated from the pagan Celtic festival in honour of the power which in early summer gave light, warmth and growth. Fires were lit and games held. Following an inaugural service on the Sunday a week of events takes place with children’s sports, disco, Beltane concert and a fancy dress parade just some of the highlights. Wednesday evening sees the installation of the Cornet followed by the Riding of the Marches and a ceremony at Neidpath Castle where the Cornet is given a welcome by the Warden of Neidpath. The mounted procession leaves for the River Tweed and following a series of horse races the evening ends with the dancing of the Cornet’s Reel in the High Street. Festival Day on the Saturday, after an early morning rideout, begins with the proclamation of the historic Beltane Fair and the crowning of the Beltane Queen, followed by a grand procession around the town. Sports and Highland dancing are held in the afternoon and the festival ends with Beating of Retreat.
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John Haswell, 2 Palace Street East, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland TD15 1HT
Tel: 01289 304492    Mob: 07866 094097