We are nestled right in the heart of what is known as the ‘debatable lands’, home of the Border Reivers – an iconic part of British history.
The Border Reivers were feuding and thieving families & clans from both sides of the Scottish/English border!
It is unique to this part of Britain and went on from Late 13th century all the way to the beginning of the 17th Century. For many, reiving was simply a way of earning a living. Scottish Reivers were just as likely to raid other Scots as to raid across the English Border. Scots and English would even join forces to raid on either side of the Border. The victims of reiving could be anyone from outside the immediate family.
It ended when James VI of Scotland became King, uniting the crowns of England and Scotland. James had Reivers hung, imprisoned or deported. A lot of the descendants would end up in America. If you’re from the US and visiting the area then you could well be returning to the homeland of your ancestors!
By the early 1620’s peace had arrived in the Borders, possibly for the first time ever…..
Some view the Border Reivers as loveable rogues, while others have compared them to the Mafia. Whatever your opinion their legacy remains in the fortified dwellings called pele towers, their ballads and their words now common in the English language such as “bereave” and “blackmail”: greenmail was the proper rent you paid, blackmail was “protection money”!
Three of the most celebrated Reivers of all time were Kinmont Willie Armstrong, Wat Scott of Harden and Geordie Burn. The night before he was hanged in 1596, Geordie Burn admitted that ‘he had lain with above forty men’s wives… and that he had killed seven Englishmen with his own hand, cruelly murdering them; that he had spent his whole time in whoring, drinking, stealing and taking deep revenge for slight offences’.
Map of the Border lands and the surnames of the clans that inhabited them!
Follow the ‘Border Reiver Family Heritage & Genealogy’ page on Facebook HERE!