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The West March of England

Map of the West March of England, Boundaries and Generalities.

The English West March was the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland though the latter was too far from the frontier to be important in border affairs. The twenty mile land frontier by 1558 ran by way of the river Sark along the Scotch Dyke to the Esk and continued up the Liddel and Kershopeburn.

The Solway was passable at low-tide in the past for eight miles and it is said that there was a ford as far west as Bowness. The “Debateable Land”, which lay between the Sark and Esk and into Liddesdale, had been amicably divided by 1558 though its inhabitants were still very troublesome to both countries.

The English West March was the strongest of the six Marches with a string of strongholds from Rockcliffe to Bewcastle guarding the rich pastures of the Eden valley and the fertile plains of the west. The March had a frontier with the Scots West March and from Kershopefoot with part of the Scots Middle March too. In the west the fortress City of Carlisle barred the raiders route south. The Warden of the West March and his Deputy were based at Carlisle, only a days ride from the Border and served as an ever present deterrent to the inroads of the Reivers of Liddesdale.

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