Often lost in the mist of time a very important treaty was signed between Scotland and England in 1290, in the Berwickshire hamlet of Birgham. If unexpected events hadn’t intervened the history between the two countries could have been very different over the next few hundred years.
To help both locals and visitors understand this story better a new information board has been installed in the village, near to the war memorial.
This has been kindly paid for by local property developers Hudson-Hirsel and Douglas-Angus Estates.
In 1290 Alexander III, the previous King of Scotland has been dead for four years, and England’s Edward I had been busy first with conquering Wales and more recently in wars with France.
He could not face more expense from an uprising in Scotland and chose instead to betroth his infant son Edward Caernarvon to Margaret, the granddaughter of Alexander III, and the only surviving heir. To ratify this treaty he chose Birgham as the meeting place between the guardians of Scotland and his English lords.
Birgham was a small hamlet then and the reason it was chosen was presumably its proximity to the border, and the reputed wooden bridge that is thought to have crossed the Tweed near the village.
This would have ensured a quick retreat south for the English lords if the Treaty negotiations failed - in those days it was fair game to capture nobles and hold them for ransom.
The Treaty was signed successfully and then ratified later at Northampton. Unfortunately the infant Margaret died of an illness on the sea trip from Norway and so this union was not to be. If she had lived, and the youngsters eventually married, there perhaps would have been no need for the centuries of often bloody conflict between Scotland and England.