Border people and traditions

The Scottish Borders and Northumberland is a region literally teeming with age old traditions and home to some of the great names from history, sport and the arts.

Historically the Borders has enjoyed the patronage of Kings and Queens down the ages – and suffered terribly at the hands of others – notably Edward I and Henry VIII.

A date no one can forget in the Scottish Borders is 1513 when the English and Scots armies met at the Battle of Flodden just outside Coldstream. The encounter claimed the lives of over 10,000 Scots, including King James V, and it is inextricably linked today to the famous Common Ridings.

The ridings take place each year in many Scottish Border towns and involved a ceremonious marking out of town boundaries by hundreds on horseback.

Famous sons and daughters of the Scottish Borders include Sir Walter Scott whose magnificent home at Abbotsford, a temple to the Scottish tradition, lies midway between Melrose and Selkirk.

Mary Sommerville of Jedburgh excelled in scientific research and, by breaking particularly thick 18-century glass ceilings, was the first woman to present a paper to the Royal Society. Sommerville College, Oxford is named in her memory.

Sporting heroes include Jimmy Guthrie and Steve Hislop who became superstars on Europe’s motorcycling circuits and Jim Clark who was a revered Formula One world champion. All have commemorative exhibitions in local museums.

South of the border in Northumberland sporting legends include footballers Bobby and Jackie Charlton who won World Cup medals in 1966.

The county was also home to one of Britain’s best landscape gardeners, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, artist and engraver Thomas Bewick, and William later Lord Armstrong whose Cragside mansion was the first house to be lit by hydro-electricity.

Many have already booked a place in Explore the Borders and others will, no doubt, be knocking on the Explore the Borders’ door in the future.

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