How the Tweed became the border line

A new book charts the lead up to the Tweed being the border between England and Scotland on the eastern side of the country.
A new book charts the lead up to the Tweed being the border between England and Scotland on the eastern side of the country.

As battle lines are re-drawn for this weekend’s 1018 Battle of Carham re-enactment, a new book highlights the battle’s relevance to the England/Scotland border.

Carham 1018 Society member Rannoch Daly, who lives in Coldstream, is also a member of the Bernician Studies Group of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and he has combined his knowledge and studies of both in ‘Birth of the Border’.

“Soon after I came to live in Coldstream in 2007 I asked a member of the local history society about how the Tweed had become the border between Scotland and England,” said Rannoch, a former prison governor.

“He told me about the Treaty of York, 1237. In 2014 I had a similar conversation with a member of the Battlefields Trust. He told me about the Battle of Carham, 1018; a discrepancy of 219 years.”

Rannoch’s conclusion about that discrepancy: “The establishment of a border is a slow process.”

“The border was on the Tweed from 1018 but it was not on the Tweed de jure (in law) until the Treaty of York in 1237.

“Much water flowed in the Tweed between these dates. Among other events, there was the Scots occupation of Northumbria from the 1130s to the 1150s, the Treaty of Falaise in 1174 and the Quitclaim of Canterbury in 1189.”

In fact there was almost 300 years of history that led to the final drawing of the England/Scotland border in the east of the country.

“In 900AD the land of middle Britain from the Forth the Humber was the Anglo-Danish land of Northumbria. England pushed north; Scotland pushed south and Northumbria was squeezed out. The border might have been settled on the river Forth or Tyne or Tees or Humber but, in 1237 in the Treaty of Work, Scotland and England agreed to put the Tweed betwixt.

“In retrospect it can be seen that the birth of the border, had taken place more than 200 years earlier when Malcolm King of Scots and Owain, King of Strathclyde, defeated Uhtred of Bamburgh at the Battle of Carham in 108 AD.”

Publication of ‘Birth of the Border’ was made possible by National Lottery funding for the Carham 1018-2018 anniversary. It is available online from Amazon, £5.