Border Features

          tarras moss            


The road west from Hermitage Castle runs through Tarras Moss.

Tarras Moss was a huge expanse of treacherous bog covered with low scrub, a desolate waste, the hiding place of reivers, moss troopers and wanted men.

The moss was  impenetrable to all but those who, out of dire necessity, knew the safe tracks and how to negotiate the hazards, for the Border ponies could always pick their way. 

When threatened, the reivers withdrew into the Moss, taking with them their possessions. When the danger was over, they would emerge, rebuild their homes, and continue with their reiver activities as before.

To an outsider, the Moss was a place of great danger, not only from bogs and mires, but also from hostile prowlers. It was a place to be avoided.

Tarras Moss is now drained and the concealing vegetation has been cleared away. 





Tarras Moss as it is today.

Scattered throughout the Borders were many areas similar to Tarras Moss, but smaller. 
They have now been largely drained and cleared of vegetation.

To the east, there were also the wastes of Spadeadam (map reference: 86 6366) and to the south the vast expanse of the Solway Moss, a huge area of bog before it was drained in the 18th Century.

The Story of Carey's Cows.

Sir Richard Carey, the Warden of the English West March, after many abortive attempts to subdue the Armstrongs, decided on a determined plan to rid Liddesdale, once and for all, of the reiving activities of this tiresome clan.

He entered Liddesdale with a strong force, and, as expected. the reivers withdrew, with their families and belongings into Tarras Moss.

Carey deployed his men at all the known exits to the Moss ensuring that no one could possible get in or out  without his knowledge.

He awaited events.

He waited a long time and his provisions were getting low and he found it impossible to purchase meat locally as all livestock had suddenly disappeared.

After a while, when his stocks were dangerously low, and Carey was beginning to fear that he would have to call off the siege, he was approached by some friendly locals and offered a fine beast to purchase. He gratefully accepted and asked for more to feed his men, and he got them.

Carey was quite unaware that a body of  Armstrongs, had left their refuge without  difficulty, and made their way south to Carey's home in England. Carey's livestock, being relatively unguarded, the Armstrongs had no difficulty in driving north a choice selection of Carey's fine beasts. 

When Carey found out that he had been purchasing his own cattle, he was not amused. 

Acutely embarrassed, Carey called off the siege and went home.

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