The Scottish Borders and North Northumberland, bordered by The River Tweed were originally part of the same region inhabited by the Celtic Britons and are rich in history. From Ancient Times the area has experienced much turbulence and unrest and has been the battlefield for may rulers struggling to claim or reclaim the region. The results are evident in the shape of Stone Age remains, Iron Age hill forts, Castles,Towers, Abbeys, Priories and Ancient bridges.
The rolling hills and lush river valleys provided food and shelter and strategic points of defence against enemies. In addition to defending themselves against foreign armies and invaders the borderland were ravaged by wars and skirmishes between the Scottish and English. The area, fought over many times by rulers and their armies was also plagued by it’s own Border Rievers.
Today the area is a peaceful unspoilt part of Great Britain. Although different countries the region is joined by its beauty and history and will forever remain intertwined.
Hadrians Wall was constructed in 122AD running from the East Coast on the banks of the River Tyne to The Solway Firth in the west. The wall marked the northern limit of the Roman Empire and was designed to keep out the unconquerable Ancient Britons in the north. Although Trimontium continued to be used by the Romans in their attempt to conquer the north by 137AD the fort was deserted, the Roman occupiers retreating south of Hadrians Wall.
After the withdrawal of the Romas from Britain in 410AD the Angles and Saxons, from Northwest Germany and the Jutes from Souther Denmark first raided and then settled in the country. These became known as the Anglo-Saxons. Several independent kingdoms were established, each with their own rulers. The large Kingdom of Northumbria extended from the Humber Estuary to Lothian in the North. The southern half was occupied by the Deira and the north by the Celtic Briton Brenicas. In 645 thy joined to become the Kingdom of Northumbria.
In 651 St Cuthbert entered the monastery at Melrose, eventually becoming Prior. In 646 Cuthbert became prior of Lindisfarne and an active missionary, where he lived for the next ten years. At the age of forty he went to live a hermetic life on nearby Inner Farne Island. Cuthbert left the island for two years to become a Bishop but returned to isolation before his death in 687AD.
In 793 Lindisfarne was raided by the Vikings when many of the monks were killed and the monastery ransacked. In 867 The Danes invaded Britain and in 873 by using the old Roman road to system had invaded Northumbria. In 875 the monks on Lindisfarne fled the Island taking the bones of St Cuthbert with them. When the last Norse King of York was expelled in 954 the old Kingdom of Northumbria was divided into two earldoms, Deira and Bamburgh. Unfortunately further Danish raids from the north and South in 993 left Berncia cut off from the rest of England. and fort at Bamburgh was destroyed. By 962 Edinburgh had been retaken by the Scots and in 1006 King Malcolm II of Scotland carried out raids in Northumbria as far south as Durham. Eventually in 1018 he was victorious in the Battle at Carham, gaining control of Lothian. A border was created along the River Tweed which remains today.
In 1093 the priory on Lindisfarne was rebuilt and established as a Benedictine House remaining until its suppression under VIII in 1536.
The burnt out fort at Bamburgh was replaced by a magnificent stone castle which in 1095 became the property of the English Monarch. By 1164 the castle was complete. In the 12th century constant border raids resulted in the building of castles fortifying houses along the Anglo-Scottish border. Norham Castle was built in 1121 to protect the property of the Bishopric in North Northumberland from the Scots. Berwick Castle was built on the orders of King David I of Scotland in 1127. In the 12th century King David I also founded the four great abbeys in the Scottish Borders, Melrose, Dryburgh, Kelso and Jedburgh. In 1237 the Treaty of York, between England and Scotland legally established the Solway-Tweed line as the border between the two countries.
The late 13th century through to the mid 14th century saw the Wars of Independence ravage the area. In 1296 Edward I invaded Scotland, attacking and sacking Berwick. By the following year the Scots had started to rebel, launching raids into Northumberland, before Edward again invaded. Skirmishes continued until the execution of William Wallace in 1305. After a short period of calm rebellion was sparked again and in 1320 the Declaration of Arbroath was sent to the Pope affirming Scottish Independence from England. Scottish Independence and Robert the Bruce as King were both recognised.
Relations between the two countries remained uneasy and conflict continued. Berwick changed hands a number of times before eventually being taken and retained by England in 1482. Both Roxburgh and Jedburgh Castles were burned by the Scots to prevent further attacks and occupation by English troops.
The dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 by Henry VIII led to the abandonment of Lindisfarne Priory. During the war of the "Rough Wooing" (1543 - 1547) Henry VIII's troops passed through the borders burning towns and slaughtering the inhabitants of the area. All of the great abbeys were attacked and almost destroyed. In the mid 1500's Elizabeth 1st refortified Berwick replacing the old town walls with new ramparts and fortifications.
In 1586 James VI of Scotland signed the Treaty of Berwick with England and in 1603 was crowned King James I of England and James VI of Scotland. the union of the crown brought stability and peace to the region. In 1707 the Act of Union ensured that Berwick remained in England.
In recent years Northumbria has become Northumberland and the old counties of Berwickshire, Roxburghshire, Peebleshire and Selkirkshire are now known as The Scottish Borders.