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About using these resources

I was commissioned to create a multimedia interpretation of The Border Reivers in 1998. Later I was awarded contracts to create resources for a millennium project about The Border Reivers. Technology advances and the 640 pixel images of 1998 and the 800 pixel images of 2000 are now as redundant as the CDs they were delivered on. The Internet became the medium for information dissemination during the 20 years of this project and the free sharing of knowledge for the pleasure and excitement of finding things out and communicating them is like hunting for the treasure trove of undiscovered history. The value of the treasures of investigating, educating, communicating are not measured in money. As a consequence, we collaborators now want you the users, to use any of our material free of charge and without commercial limit on the following broad conditions:

Please acknowledge this site in your work. Where individuals or organisations are mentioned please acknowledge them in your work. Please email this site, or fill in a contact form to tell us how you have used these resources – and thank us. We don’t want money, only your appreciation. I have paid for this site to be hosted until 2020 so the only cost is to extend the hosting cost beyond that time. There are a few items that have copyright stated, mainly the wonderful paintings that were allowed as long as no money was made. Read the copyright section and ask for permission, it may be free or a small charge may go to the painter – let us keep encouraging and financing the skilled artists that you will enjoy in this site.

Background 1997 -8 ‘In Search of the Border Reivers’ (ISBR)


‘In Search of the Border Reivers’ (ISBR) is an umbrella organisation, comprising both commercial and non profit-making bodies, that draws on Reiver history to raise the tourism profile and potential of the border lands of England and Scotland.


In April 1996, 60 people attended a seminar at Tullie House to see how the theme of Border Reivers and their colourful history could be used to promote tourism and encourage more visitors to the Border Lands of England and Scotland.
The meeting was convened because it was realised that many people in the region one way or another were drawing on the turbulent past of the Borders in creating TV programmes, video footage, CDs, CD ROMs, novels, children’s materials and even large scale education visit promotion and it would be expedient to pool local and regional opinion.


Representatives attended from the Tourist Boards of Dumfries & Galloway, Scottish Borders, Northumberland, Cumbria and Carlisle. Also in attendance were people working in the tourist industry in the private sector, media journalists, marketing experts and design consultants. Some people were already deriving income from Reiver-related commercial activities such as authors who have written about Reiving themes, accommodation providers, TV and film producers.

Stuart Hepburn and Eric Robson developed the idea and Stuart created a gazetteer and OS map showing significant sites of interest. Peter Nicholson developed information technology that was appropriate at that time, 1998, and a CD for 640 x 480 size screens and simple raw HTML website was made with the significant help of the talented multimedia creator Chris Tolworthy. Nick Winterbottom then Director of Tullie House arranged finance for the “Hot Trod” CD and Peter Nicholson wrote the stories and Maddi Prior, Rick Kemp and Paul Adams permitted music from their collections to illustrate the idea of Border Reivers. I take responsibility for any inaccuracies and embroideries in the text that I wrote for “the Hot Trod”.

If you have any other interpretation then write it and keep the story of the Border Reivers alive.

Background 2000 – 2001 Millennium Project Border Reivers

In 1999 a millennium project wanted to record the history of Scotland and Peter Nicholson was commissioned to create a database of historic verifiable records so Pete Armstrong gave his considerable abilities as a researcher of historical facts and places and as a very talented artist and model maker. The work of Pete Armstrong built on the considerable time and skill of Stuart Hepburn and I had the simpler task of managing, arranging and publishing.

A special thanks goes to a group then known as “The Steel Bonnets” re-enactment society who allowed me to film them. Sadly the video quality of 1998 does not meet modern standards but please accept the best available at the time. Fortunately John Sadler was then, and is still now, very much in action and available to explain in the most understandable detail about the clothes, armour and events of the Border Reivers.

Permission, copyright, higher quality images

Formal permission is explained in the Creative Commons section but note that if an item has the copyright stated then you must contact the owner or this site to obtain permission – see section creative commons

If you want any large quality images then please email. Some are 10Mb so we would need to arrange a transfer.

The Pont Blaeu maps are from my personal copy and the National Library of Scotland have originals but the images and text are from my own copies. The translations are from a friend, thanks Shirley, and have no official approval. If you live in Cumbria and are interested in viewing my copies of the maps then I may arrange for a public display, or if you are a researcher then a private viewing is perhaps possible.

The Pacification of the Border documents were scanned from the collection at Whitehaven Archives and Philida Duff Pennington kindly signed permission to use them in this project. All contributors permitted free use of their material so don’t make money without asking the few who still have their copyright attached to paintings in particular – contact me for advice.

Carlisle Archives was based at Carlisle Castle before moving to its shiny new modern building and Susan ?Dench? and Jim Grissenthwaite kindly gave permission to scan some unique resources. I have never forgotten the thrill of touching (with gloved hand) the artefacts that connect the researcher to the past, words are transient but the item is a real connection to that unknowable time – but we can interpret and have fun doing it! Join the search and tell us your story.

Some books are copied in part or in whole but are nearly 100 years old so copyright has expired and I relinquish my copyright of my layout, so help yourself.

Lots of the text is either mine or Pete Armstrong’s and we allow you to use it for free. If you make money then great for you, just let us know that we have done you some good, thanks go a long way!

Peter Nicholson

Your Contribution

“In Search of the Border Reivers” welcomes contributions from all interested people and organisations. We are interested in fact and fiction! Stories give colour, drama and interpretation to what was significant when England and Scotland were not friends, and when there is limited physical evidence of the way of life at that time.

You may wonder whether borders create more problems than they solve; families and loyalties split, laws and customs as divided like the border; differences encouraging cross border disagreements, raids, theft, lawlessness. You may wonder whether modern times and potential future relationships may conjure a re-emergence of borders creating conflict. Can the search for the Border Reivers of the past help us understand the risks of potential borders of the future?

Help others to discover the past with your contribution. There may be remains of buildings in your area or stories of border raids. You may have anecdotes or interpretations that may amuse your fellow explorer.

Our photos need to be updated so please travel the area, take good photos and send them.

The site locations were made by Stuart Hepburn for Ordnance Survey using their grid references. This before the ubiquitous mobile phone (a computer in al but name) and the wonderful online Google maps.

Please help to update each site with the Google map coordinates. Find the site location on Google maps, click the location, note the box at the bottom of the screen with the navigation numbers, copy the coordinate numbers to the feedback form of that site, add the name of the site and send it to me please. A typical entry would be for example:
Fatlips Castle Hawick TD9 8SB 55.480211, -2.662813
Any interesting information that you give us may be posted on this web site – use the contact form.

Creative Commons Licence


You are free to:
Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material
for any purpose, even commercially.
This license is acceptable for Free Cultural Works.
The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.
Under the following terms:
Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

You do not have to comply with the license for elements of the material in the public domain or where your use is permitted by an applicable exception or limitation.
No warranties are given. The license may not give you all of the permissions necessary for your intended use. For example, other rights such as publicity, privacy, or moral rights may limit how you use the material.

For more information see

A most worthwhile use of our tax money is to preserve evidence of the past and make it easily available for the future.  Please enjoy the searching and  when you find, let us know.  Your search for the Border Reivers and the English Scottish conflicts, resolution, tensions (and future?) should enthuse you, especially if well documented and correctly referenced and acknowledged work so that your work can be publicised via sites such as this one.  Keep in touch!  Please note that although some sites like local authority archives are free, some non profit sites need a small subscription and you will be keeping professional researchers and their interpretation alive, so help them to help you by paying occasionally for information.

Cumbria Archives Service: Use the Advanced Search and enter keyword(s) eg Pacification or a date eg 1603 or 1580 – 1608

The Historical Journal,  (subscriptions required) 

British History Online to see The Border Papers 1560 – 1603  (subscriptions required) 




Links to Border Reivers websites

Border Reivers books and talks by Tom Moss

The History of the Border Reivers by Ben Johnson

Carlisle and the Border Reivers by Julia Hickey



Scottish Clans and Scottish Shopping

Border Reivers from the 13th to the 17th centuries.



Border Family Names

Border Reiver map

The Reivers Trail Map

England’s North East

BBC Archive


The Northern Rebellion 1558

Hawick Reivers Festival

Border Reiver Sword

SUSTRANS Reivers Route (based in Florida)

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