Border Reivers

Edward I of England first appointed a Warden of the Marches to oversee the borderlands between England and Scotland in the late 13th Century.

On each side of the border, the land was divided into East March, Middle March and West March. Bemersyde is in the Scottish Middle March.

Remote from Royal authority and with the state of the war often existing between Scotland and England, the families and clans of the Borders countryside often felt little allegiance to the King and were more likely to be loyal to their kinsmen. With sheep and cattle farming on the remote moorlands, cattle rustling or reiving was common.

Often the borders clans would switch allegiance between Scottish and English thrones and for a time the powerful clans held sway on the border countryside which became known as the Debatable Lands. Protection money was paid to the most powerful clans, with the word ‘Blackmail’ entering the English language in 1530.

The reivers period produced one unique architectural feature, The Peel Tower of which Bemersyde’s central tower is a fine example. Gilnockie Tower Reivers Centre is situated near Langholm on the A7 and is open all year round to visit and there is a Reivers Trail.

Every summer the towns of the Scottish Borders celebrate their history with the Common Ridings.

The ridings commemorate the Riding of the Marches when the boundaries were patrolled to defend territory from the Border Reivers. They are one of the oldest equestrian festivals in the world, a spectacle of pageantry.