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Right Now Times: ‘Little country of bandits’ on the border of England and Scotland

Right Now Times: Nowhere in the world is the winter sun like the west coast of Scotland. Across the river in KC scheme may then be reflected by the light yellow of the sun’s rays are waves of river waters, a view of a glass ribbon.

Right Now Times: The fields around it lead to the Slovene Firth. On one side, the low-lying beach, surrounded by mountains, extends to the Irish Sea. Here a natural wall forms between Dumfries in Scotland and Galway in England.

I was staring at the southwest coast of England and Scotland in the face of strong winds. While enjoying the scenery, you can’t believe that the seemingly peaceful countryside was once considered a center of lawlessness and a bloody area known as the ‘Debtable Lands’.

Right Now Times: For three hundred years, this center of lawlessness is today a quiet rural area where some hardy animals are bred and harmony is reflected in the towns and villages. In this part of the UK you will find stories of people who consider debatable lands their home and the fighting families here are known as Border Rivers.

This is an area whose local history is hidden in the rivers and forest valleys that have not been described much.

Right Now Times: And what an interesting story. Debtable Lands was the last division of territory in Britain. From the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, the tribes of the area plundered and shed blood.

Debateable lands were rife with chaos and lawlessness. Although the area was not free and independent, it was so dangerous that neither England nor Scotland tried to control it.

Right Now Times: The history of debatable lands is summed up in a parliamentary decree issued by the British and Scottish governments in the mid-sixteenth century. According to the parliamentary decree: “The people of England and Scotland have the power to rob, burn, kill and destroy anyone and no action can be taken against such person.”

For three hundred years, debatable lands have been a highly dangerous and no-go area
Right Now Times: For three hundred years, debatable lands have been a highly dangerous and no-go area

Right Now Times: This parliamentary decree was given the status of law. The reason for this parliamentary decree was to try to avoid responsibility because neither side was ready to take responsibility for the area. When both Scotland and England could not agree on whose territory it was, it was divided.

Dr Anna Groundwater, the principal curator of the National Museum of Scotland, told me that the area was of no use because of its emptiness. Nor was there valuable land where crops grew. So no one was ready to fight to control it.

It was also a small area, which impressed me when I looked at the map while waiting for hot tea in a kitchen in the Scottish town of Gretna.

Right Now Times: The area is only eight miles wide and only thirteen miles long from the top of the hill to the coast. The Seven Roads that connect Edinburgh and Carlyle pass through what was once called Debatable Lands.

Gretna and her granddaughter are said to have run away from home and got married, but their fame goes beyond that. In World War I, there was an industrial production of arms and ammunition, which changed the entire population.

Right Now Times: The architecture here reflects the early twentieth century. The cafe I was drinking tea in is a reflection of the same architecture.

Right Now Times: The borders of England and Scotland were first demarcated in 1237 under the Treaty of York. Graham Robb, author of The Debatable Land: The Last World Between Scotland and England, writes that this was probably the first such event in Europe in 1237 when the boundaries between England and Scotland were demarcated.

Gretna Green Blake Smith was known for running away from home and getting married under Scottish law.
Right Now Times: Gretna Green Blake Smith was known for running away from home and getting married under Scottish law.

Right Now Times: But when the demarcation process was over, it became clear that a line had been drawn between the properties of different families, which angered the people and turned into a revolt.

After the border was drawn, powerful families began looting in England and Scotland, and neither government was willing to spend its resources to solve the problem.

The area became a no-go area where border pirates, known locally as ‘Border Rivers’, became hotbeds. Rewing is a Scottish word meaning looting.

Right Now Times: Border Rivers started stealing each other’s livestock. Dr Anna Groundwater says the incidents not only took place across the border, but were also common in Scotland and England, proving that they were more criminal than the England-Scotland conflict.

Border river operations were not limited to debatable lands. Their bloodiest acts were in areas that were thought to be untouchable. Debtable lands became virtually the fourth country in the UK after England, Wales and Scotland to have its own rules and regulations and no one could enter the area.

Debateland’s land is barren and sparsely populated. The population of Cannonby and Langhome are descendants of people living in Debable Lands. Cannonby and Langhome are now fishing and hiking centers.

Alexander Armstrong, also known as Lang Sandy, was the last chief of the Armstrong tribe in Scotland to be hanged along with his eleven sons.
Right Now Times: Alexander Armstrong, also known as Lang Sandy, was the last chief of the Armstrong tribe in Scotland to be hanged along with his eleven sons.

Right Now Times: Signs of debatable lands still exist, including the 173-mile reverse cycle route. I took a detour on A-Seven Road and reached the village of Ronburn, where there is still a public garden with a wooden statue of Lang Sandy.

Lang Sandy was more than six feet tall and was considered the tallest man in the 16th century. He was also very arrogant.

Right Now Times: Lang Sandy vehemently opposed the British King’s efforts to establish law and order in the area and was hanged in 1610 along with his eleven sons. The same thing happened with Lang Sandy and many Border Rivers.

The Gulnaki Tower of the Armstrong tribe is still preserved today.

Right Now Times: I wanted to visit the Gulnaki Tower area a few minutes from Ronburn. I was on the road to Gulnaki Tower for a while, a beautiful example of the Peel Tower in Lowland, Scotland. It is now the Armstrong Museum of Debateland.

Gulnaki Tower is also known as Haloz Tower because of its nearby village Haloz.

Gulnaki Tower
Right Now Times: Gulnaki Tower is a place reminiscent of debatable lands

This five-hundred-year-old tower was built from a defensive point of view and it was impossible to break through its stone walls.

Right Now Times: Martin, the tower’s administrator, told me that he tries to keep the museum open to the public all year round. Tours are also allowed through advance booking, Martin said. The purpose of organizing these tours is to reflect the life of the sixteenth century. These tours also give a glimpse of family life in the sixteenth century and how difficult those periods were.

Right Now Times: When I was talking to Martin about the area around A-Seven Road, he told me that there is a desire to attract tourists to the area. “The history of the textile industry comes to you when you drive from the Borderlands to Cannonby, Gulnaki Tower and Legnheim.”

Martin says all of this is being put together to persuade people to visit the area, which has long been neglected.

Right Now Times: However, the distance to the area was not a problem for Border Rivers. In fact, Debtable Lands remained extremely isolated until the middle of the sixteenth century.

Right Now Times: The Scott Dyke was built in 1552, following the first treaty between England and Scotland in 1551, defining the boundary between England and Scotland forever. The three-and-a-half-mile embankment divided the debitable lands into two parts. Some traces of these embankments still exist.

Trail
Right Now Times: The town, the natural environment around the village is still a jungle desert like it was in the time of Border Rivers.

Right Now Times: In the beginning, the status of these embankments was only for show and it did not affect the operations of Bard Rivers and the incidents of theft and robbery continued as before.

Right Now Times: When England and Scotland annexed in 1603, the British monarchy focused on this border. New watchdogs were deployed to ensure law enforcement in the area. Many border rivers, such as Lang Sandy, were hanged and many deported to rid the area of ​​thieves and robbers.

Right Now Times: As I headed north on A-Seven Road, behind me was the Gulnaki Tower that I could see in my car window, wondering how so much lawlessness had spread in this small area for centuries with the knowledge of the governments. And many interesting characters and stories continue to grow.

The reasons for the interest in debatable lands were also incomprehensible periods. The town, the natural environment around the village is still a jungle desert like it was in the time of Border Rivers.

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