The Spy at Southdean



The Scottish army assembled by the Jed Water and it was at the church at Southdean (pronounced Souden) Map ref: 80 631 092, 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.


The ruin of the old church lies alongside the A6088, the road from Cater 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.

Back in the summer of 1388, the council were in session within the church discussing the details of their plans for the proposed incursion into England. Unnoticed, an English squire had 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.

Soon, he was 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. 

The Battle of Otterburn was fought south of the town on the 19th August 1388.  


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