Border Features

southdean church 

Pronounced Sood'n

From Carter Bar, map reference: 80 6906, go north and take the left junction, the A 6088. In 5 miles the church ruin lies to the left, just beyond a farm entrance. You can park more easily a little further on.

 Map ref: 80 631 092

The church at Southdean which played such an important part in the history of the Border wars.

The Spy at Southdean

The Scottish army assembled by the Jed Water and it was at the church at Southdean that the leaders of the Scottish forces assembled in August of 1388 to plan their incursion into England, which culminated in the Battle of Otterburn.

Back in the summer of 1388, the Scottish council were in session within the church discussing the details of their plans for the proposed incursion into England, when, unnoticed, an English squire gained access to the church and overheard all the secret plans of the Scots.

With his head brimming with vital information, he left the church but found, to his horror, that his horse had been stolen.

His dilemma was serious. If he were to report the loss of his horse his identity would be revealed, but the sight of a gentleman attired for riding, wandering about on foot, would inevitably draw attention.

As he had feared, he was soon apprehended, and brought before the council. Under pressure he was forced to reveal not only his identity, but also the disposition of the English forces.

As a result of this information, the Scottish leaders adjusted their plans which contributed greatly to their later success.

The Englishman, it is said, became a double agent but nothing is known of his subsequent career.   

Douglas led his army from Southdean, down Redesdale and then on to the town of Newcastle. There, beneath the walls, in a skirmish between Percy and Douglas, Percy's pennant was captured by Douglas.

Taunted by Douglas, Percy swore to recapture it and this led to the renowned battle fought later just south of Otterburn.

The Battle was fought on the 19th August 1388.  

The ruin of the old church lies alongside the A6088, the road from Carter Bar to Jedburgh, and is accessible to the public.
Parking is possible just to the west of the site. 

Each year, on the second Sunday in August a commemoration service is held at the site.

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