Copyright 2009 © Rose Cottage Publications | Tom Moss
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Prior to the formation of the Border Line, the people who lived to the north or south of the rivers of Esk and Tweed and the great hills of the Cheviots lived in relative harmony. However by 1237 the Border Line was in place, agreed by kings whose lines of demarcation took advantage of these great natural barriers.
Its formation eventually led to aggression and strife as land which had previously been common to all, irrespective of which side of the river or hill they lived, be it north or south, was fiercely contested. The two peoples were now acutely aware of national boundaries even though they clung to the old ways where allegiance to the family or clan took precedence over loyalty to nation or monarch.
The conflict often led to death, maiming and theft as both peoples vied with each other to dominate the resources available: the richest pasture, the most fertile soil and the best areas of woodland.
Relations then were bad enough between the peoples on both sides of the Border Line but by 1296 the animosity would scale a greater height. In that year the great warrior king of England, Edward l, claimed overlordship of his northern neighbour. The stance was to lead to two hundred and fifty years of war and attrition and the people who inhabited the lands close to the Border line, both north and south, would suffer untold hardship as a result.
English and Scots armies bent on proving that ‘might was right’ did not wait until confronted by their armed aggressor. Both unsheathed the sword as soon as they crossed the Border and subjected the innocent inhabitants to fire, sword and theft.
An army on the move required food and shelter. They lived off the land and cared not one whit for the poor folk they encountered and plundered.
They left the Border folk destitute, deprived of the basic means of keeping body and soul together.
The Border people on both sides of the Border Line, though, were hard and obdurate and did not lie down in such adversity.
They did what they had to do to survive.
And so the Border peasant, through adversity and necessity, stole where he could and became one of the Border Reivers; became master of the art of theft. What started as a dire consequence of being left without even the basic means of livelihood, would culminate in mass thievery as the Border Reivers, turn by turn, stole from each other both along the Line in their own country, and south and north of it, in the lands of the opposite country. The necessity became a calling, a vocation. It spawned many feuds as a result even among clans of the same race as it gathered momentum. It reached a point where it seemed that nothing could be done to stop it. It seemed there was no power in either Scotland or England which would free the people from its scourge. The Borderer became the Border Reiver.
Read my book Deadlock & Deliverance to awaken the Border Reiver in you.
The Rescue of Kinmont Willie - by Tom Moss
There is yet much more to see and read about.
Being brought up in the mill towns of Lancashire it seemed a natural progression that I would follow in the footsteps of many generations of my family and seek employment in the ‘dark satanic’ mills. This I did. I still work in textiles, it was lack of employment in the places of my youth that drove me north. I am currently the manager of a weaving mill in Carlisle. We prosper, I think, though times are hard and competition from the east is daily just below the horizon.
The move kick-started my love of Border history and, indeed my fascination with English\Scottish relationships to the Union of the Crowns in 1603.
Today I am a qualified textile technologist having studied the composition of yarns and fibres and their practical applications.
Technology and history might appear to be strange bedfellows but, in my case, I believe them to be the perfect foil. Both add interest and spice to my life. I pursue both with zest.
When I moved to the Border country it was if I had ‘come home’. I had a feeling of belonging, of this is where I should be.
Perhaps the fact,that for all my time in Lancashire, I was born near Blyth in Northumberland and am thus a Borderer, has something to do with my great love for the area and its history.
The pursuit of historical knowledge has always been a great joy to me. It is with pleasure that I settle in comfort with a worthy tome to re-enact in the mind’s eye yet another battle or wrestle with the conflicts that confronted intellects long gone.
Such delight brings yet further rewards as often I cannot wait to quit the comfort of the big armchair and journey to the places where men fought and died for a cause or see the places where the people of my reading lived and loved, were born or reached the end of their lives.
Until the 1980’s I lived in the textile mill towns of Lancashire before moving with my work to Carlisle. Here I have been ever since apart from seven years which I spent in Hawick, a lovely Scottish Border town. The moves, naturally for a lover of history, opened many a new avenue to me and have led to my great love of the Border country.
Rose Cottage Publications
Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfries and Galloway
“Anyone, organisation, fellowship or group who would like to share my passion for the Border Reivers and history of the Border Country should contact me as I am more than willing to give talks on the subject.
I'm sure you will not be disappointed! I have read the history from many sources and, more relevantly, in my opinion, walked the ground. The site of a Border Reivers fortified tower, ruined or lived in yet, or Border battlefield, says more then a thousand words.
Join me, indulge your interest in history or maybe revisit the lives and times of your name-sakes or ancestors.
I concentrate on the years 1286 to 1603, from the death of Alexander 111 of Scotland to the Union of the Crowns of England and Scotland.
Specific areas are:-
|The Border Wars|
|Kinmont Willie Armstrong Trail|