Step back in time

If you enjoy history and exploring times gone by you will love the Borders.

Whether heading north from Corbridge or Ponteland, or south from Edinburgh you are on a very special journey back in time.

Northumberland and the Scottish Borders have the dubious distinction of being the most fought over region in the UK.

From the earliest times, when Agricola marched his Roman legions north from York, the borderlands region has been no stranger to conflict.

Once part of the powerful Kingdom of Northumbria, the 96-mile border that now separates England and Scotland first appeared in 1237, an agreement thrashed out at the Treaty of York between King Henry III and Scotland’s King Alexander II.

But it did little to prevent troubled relations between the two kingdoms for centuries to follow. Hostilities were not finally laid to rest until Bonnie Prince Charlie’s ill-fated ’45 uprising that ended at Culloden.

During the Wars of Independence the Border region was key to the independence aspirations of William Wallace and later Robert the Bruce and it was in the front line as armies marched north and south.

The famous abbeys of the Scottish Borders at Jedburgh, Dryburgh, Melrose and Kelso suffered irreversible damage at the hands of Henry VIII’s rampaging soldiers in the 1540’s – largely the result of a Tudor temper tantrum.


Interwoven with the high politics of warfare were the Border Reivers who had their own distinctive way of dealing with local difficulties and held sway for over 300 years.  They even contributed to the English language, giving us the words blackmail and bereavement!

Turbulent times have, not surprisingly left a legacy of imposing castles, battles, fortified towers and Hadrian’s Wall, a revered UNESCO World Heritage Site – all with their own story to tell.

We are pleased to report a gentler side to borderlands history with impressive stately homes, places of pilgrimage such as Holy Island off the Northumberland coast, as well as literary and scientific magnets such as Abbotsford, home of Sir Walter Scott and Cragside, built for Victorian industrialist William Armstrong and the first building in the world to be lit by hydroelectric power.

You’ll find features and more information on these and much more as you work through Explore the Borders, written and illustrated to help you plan your visit to the brilliant borderlands.

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Explore The Borders