Covering about eighteen hundred square miles, the Scottish Borders stretches from the rolling hills and moorland in the west, through gentler valleys to the high agricultural plains of the east, and on to the rocky Berwickshire coastline with its secluded coves and picturesque fishing villages.
These lands have been witness to some of Scotland’s greatest, and most gruesome, moments in history – of which you can find evidence around every corner. Centuries of war and destruction once gave the Borders a reputation as a dangerous, lawless region. The Wars of Scottish Independence, one of Scotland’s most famous periods in history, made ruins of the once grand Abbeys of Melrose, Kelso, Jedburgh and Dryburgh – which are still available to visit today. The wars took place during the late 13th and early 14th centuries, and provided Scotland’s people with a reputation of pride and strength they maintain to this day.
Equally as fearsome were the legendary Border Reivers; the ruthless men who raided both the English and Scottish sides of the border for nearly 300 years. During their heyday, a customary law known as Border Law was enacted to combat their brutal nature. Rules such as the ‘Hot Trod’ custom were put into place, in which a man who had been raided could legally seek revenge – as long as it was done within 6 days! The Reivers’ pillaging reached its peak following the death of Elizabeth I of England until the accession to the throne of James VI of Scotland, who strived to abolish the Border Law and punish the Reivers. Their violent yet colourful lives have become a fixed part of Borders history; and can be celebrated at the popular yearly Reivers Festival in Hawick.
Steeped in history, today the Borders are known for their beautiful scenery, majestic buildings and celebration of some of Scotland’s age-old traditions. The warmth and welcoming nature of its people has made the Borders a popular destination for holiday-makers – and for anyone interested in learning about Scotland’s fascinating history.