The abbeys were sited in the most beautiful sheltered valleys. They were so rich and numerous in a land which was largely irreligious and poor.

While much of their wealth was accumulate by trading, a useful income was derived from the wealthy who felt it necessary to make gifts to the monks in order to be assured of a place in heaven. This is a service the monks were happy to provided and probably did nothing to deny their influence. 
It must have been gratifying, after a period of slaughter and plunder, to purchase absolution, and then to continue to pursue their violent activities with a clear conscience.

It was lucrative source of revenue for the monks, and the violent and lawless lifestyle of their patrons ensured a steady income.

There are no reports of the donors being dissatisfied with the efficiency of the service the monks provided.


The Lordís Prayer in Old Scots.

 Uor fader quhilk beest I Hevin, Hallowit weird thyne nam. Cum thyne kinrik. Be dune thyne wull as is I Hevin,

 sua po yerd. Uor dailie breid gif us thilk day.

And forleit us uor skaiths, as we forleit them quha skaith us. 
And leed us na intill temptatioun.
 Butan fre us fra evil.



23rd Psalm in Old Scots

The Lord is my Shepherd; in nocht am I wantin',

In the haughs o' green girse does He mak me lie doon;

While mony puir straiglers are bleatin' and pantin',   

By saft-flowin' burnies He leads me at noon. 

When aince I had strayed far awa in the bracken,       

And daidled till gloamin' cam ower a' the hills;   

Nae dribble o' water my sair drooth to slacken        

And dark grow'd the nicht wi' its haars and its chills.

Awa frae the fauld, strayin' fit-sair and weary,

I thocht I had naethin' to dae but to dee.

He socht me and fand me in mountain hechts dreary

He gangs by fell paths which He kens best for me.  

And noo, for His name's sake, I'm dune wi' a' fearin',

Though cloods may aft gaither and soughin' win's blaw.

"Hoo this?" or "Hoo that?" - oh, prevent me frae speirin';

His will is aye best, and I daurna say Na.  

The valley o' death winna fleg me to thread it

Though awfu' the darkness, I weel can foresee;

Wi' His rod and His staff He wull help me to tread it

Then wull its shadows, saw gruesome, a' flee.  

Forfochen in presence o' foes that surround me,

My Shepherd a table wi' denties has spread;

The Thyme and the Myrtle blaw fragrant aroond me

He brims a fu' cup and poors oil on my head.  

Surely guidness an' mercy, despite a' my roamin',

Wull gang wi' me doon to the brink o' the river,

Ayont it nae mair o' the eerie and gloamin',

1 wull bide in the Hame o' my Faither for ever.  


The religious influence of the churches and monasteries along the Borders seem to have been less than significant. Their success in spreading 'the word' and guiding the reiver folk towards more peaceful pursuits, does not appear to have had much success.

On one occasion, when a group of reivers were resting from their activities and having a social get together, they were interrupted by a voice asking "Are there any Christians here?"

An answer came, "Nae, we're all Armstrongs and Elliots here."


The British Library has produced £10,000 replicas of the Lindisfarne Gospels.  One will be displayed at Holy Island and the other in Durham Cathedral.  The original will remain in London.

Border Life Index

Master Index