Northumberland and the Scottish Borders has the dubious distinction of being the most fought over region in the UK as the crossed swords marking battlefields on maps of the region testify.
From the earliest times, when Agricola marched his Roman legions north from York the Border region has been no stranger to turbulent times.
Once part of the powerful Kingdom of Northumbria, the line that separates England and Scotland first appeared in 1237 by agreement 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 aspirations of William Wallace and later Robert the Bruce and it has been in the front line as armies have 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 – 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 castles, battles and fortified towers – all with their own story to tell.
Explore the Borders investigates Borders’ timelines to deliver historic fact and fiction in our Step Back in Time section.