Border Villages.  



Liddesdale, Scotland,  three miles from the English Border.

For Canonbie and district use O.S. map No. 85


Canonbie lies within the area which was known as the Debateable Land, a great tract of land which was  under the jurisdiction of neither the Scots nor the English and thus became a refuge for all the outlaws and undesirables in the region.

Liddesdale was the territory of the infamous Armstrong Clan, the clan which had the reputation of being the wildest of all the riding families on both sides of the Border.

While the Border was dominated by the Armstrongs on the Scottish side, the Forsters and the Grahams held sway on the English side. Border ties were stronger than national affiliations, families having more in common with their neighbours than with members of the own nationality living beyond the Borders.

There was a Priory once at Canonbie, hence its name, but it was destroyed by the English in 1542. The stones were used in the building of Canonbie Bridge.


Gilnockie Castle

The site lies immediately left of the north side of Canonbie Bridge. It occupied a strong defensive site once the seat of the Lairds of Mangerton (Armstrongs).

It was the home of Johnny Armstrong of Gilnockie and was unfinished at the time of his death.

It can be reached from Canonbie bridge. Not much of the castle  remains.



Lamyford, near Kershopefoot, was one of the places where the wardens of the Marches met to settle international disputes. A jury was convened consisted of six Englishmen selected by the Scots and six Scotsmen selected by the English. The court would exchange grievances and seek to settle all disputes amicably.

To the east of Kershopefoot stretches a great area of moorland, crossed by innumerable tracks, many only known to the moss-troopers. Much of it is now an equally featureless forest of conifers.

Driving north from Canonbie you will come upon the farms of Harelaw and Caulside. (map ref: 79 45 80) Here you could linger  a while and consider that you are now in the very heart of reiver country, for it was here there lived the most active and the most feared of all the reiving families. 

To the east are the farms of Bankshead and Whitlawside, the haunts, in days gone by, of many a famous reiver. It is worth leaving the car behind and straying from the road to savour the very sights which were so very familiar to those in reiver times.

If you take the track to the left within two miles you will reach the standing stone which marked the northern boundary of the Debateable Land.

Today, Liddesdale is quite sparsely populated. 


Where do you want to go next?

Gilnockie Tower (Hollows Tower)

The Debateable Land 

Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie.


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