Location of Birgham:

Four miles west of Coldstream on the A698.

You've probably never heard of Birgham.  It's a small village  a few miles west of Coldstream on the Kelso road, the north bank of the River Tweed  You would likely pass straight through without noticing it.  Most people do.  But at one time it was a very important place.

In ii88 it was the meeting-place of William the Lion and the Bishop of Durham, who represented Henry II. of England. The Bishop had been dispatched northwards to exact from the Scots an undertaking to provide one tenth part of all their properties and revenues in order to help the English king raise funds for a new crusade in the Holy Land. The Scottish nobles and prelates were not impressed and refused to contribute towards King Henry’s demand.

One hundred years later Brigham was the meeting-place of a convention of  Scottish Officials and six representatives from England, among whom was a later Bishop of Durham. Its object was to complete arrangements for the marriage between Prince Edward, son of Edward the first, and the baby Maid of Norway. The Treaty of Brigham, agreed on July i8, 1290, also provided for the independence of Scotland to be observed. The treaty was rendered void by the death of Margaret, the Maid.

Being only a river's width from enemy territory Birgham was frequently harassed by the English yet there is no evidence of there ever being a protective tower there. The nearest peel tower was at Leitholm two miles to the north. The ruins of this peel still remain. Besides a pele nearby Leitholm had more to offer:

“Bught-Rig and Beichester,
Hatchet-Knowes and Darnchester,
Leithoim and the Peel;
If ye dinna get a wife in ane o’ thae places,
Ye’ll ne’er dae weel.”

So the folk of Birgham and Leitholm had close ties and much in common.

There was at ford across the river at Birgham, perhaps two, and long before, perhaps 500 years, there is believed to have been a bridge.

There has been a village at Birgham since the seventh century, and its ancient name of Briggeham means a "bridge settlement". Not only its name, but also the village’s tempestuous history, suggest that there was once an ancient river crossing there.

A search is underway for evidence of a bridge which would have been an amazing construction for those times. Signs of any remnants of the old bridge are likely be difficult to discover as the river very possibly changed its course during the intervening 1500 years.

The track leading down from the village to the ford is obviously ancient. See how it has worn a deep gulley over the centuries.

There is a small car park in the village and the beginning of the track is nearby.

The Anglo Scottish Border follows the line of the river from Berwick as far as Birgham. The Border then turns inland south folowing the line of the Roddam Burn and from then on westward the Tweed is Scottish on both banks.


Berwick upon Tweed



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