Scottish Borders


Principal Town: Melrose
Population (1991):
Area (hectares): 472749
Entry Updated: 10-SEP-2015
Local Authority Contact Information

Address: Scottish Borders Council
Council Headquarters
Newtown St Boswells
The sixth largest of Scotland's 32 local government areas, with an area of 4727 sq. km (1825 sq. miles), the Scottish Borders comprises the eastern half of the Southern Uplands of SE Scotland. It is bounded to the east by the North Sea, to the north by East and Mid Lothian, to the west by South Lanarkshire and Dumfries and Galloway and to the south by the English border regions of Northumberland and Cumbria.

Generally characterised by folded sedimentary rocks, the Borders comprises four distinct physiographic regions: an upland rim that separates it from the Lothians and includes the Moorfoot, Lammermuir, Tweedsmuir and Cheviot Hills; a series of river valleys or 'dales' that provide access routes from south to north; the Merse or plain of the River Tweed, which extends from Berwick-upon-Tweed in the east to Galashiels in the west; and the Berwickshire coast which includes fine beaches and high cliffs.

Fed by the Gala, Leader, Ettrick Water, Yarrow, Teviot and Till, the River Tweed flows eastwards from its source west of Peebles to join the North Sea at Berwick-upon-Tweed. St Mary's Loch is the largest natural water body. Some 26% of the area is rough grass or moorland, 18% arable land, and 16% woodland.

Following the Beeching Report all of the railway stations in the Scottish Borders were closed, although the East Coast main line still passed around the coast, but without stops between Dunbar and Berwick upon Tweed. This situation remained unchanged until the revitalised Borders Railway reopened in 2015.

Settlement in the Borders has been dated to 5000 BP and the finding of a longbow from around 3640 BC suggests the presence of hunters at an even earlier period. During their brief expeditions into Scotland the Romans built forts and fortlets at Newstead (Trimontium) and Lyne and in succeeding years the local population built fortified settlements, notably multiple-rampart hill forts and fortified farmsteads. Invaded by the Danes in 886 AD and constantly fought over by Scots and English, raiders or 'reivers', the Borders has many fine castles in addition to its famous abbeys at Melrose, Dryburgh, Jedburgh and Kelso.

The most notable conflict to take place in this region was the Battle of Flodden (1513) at which King James IV was killed. The novelist Sir Walter Scott made his home at Abbotsford and today the area is noted for its local festivals, common ridings and passion for the game of rugby.

Formerly comprising the counties of Berwickshire, Selkirkshire, Roxburghshire and Peeblesshire, The Borders region was created in 1975 and survived the 1996 local authority re-organisation. Administered from Newtown St. Boswells, its chief settlements are Galashiels, Selkirk, Peebles, Hawick, Innerleithen, Lauder, Melrose, Kelso, Coldstream, Duns and Eyemouth.

Fishing, now focused at Eyemouth, farming and forestry play an important part in the rural economy while the textile industry remains a significant employer in Border towns such as Galashiels, Hawick, Innerleithen, Jedburgh, Peebles, Selkirk and Walkerburn. Lately light engineering and electronics have made a vital contribution to the Borders economy in addition to increased tourism.
References and Further Reading
Banks, F.R. (1977) The Borders. B.T.Batsford, London
Strang, Charles Alexander (1994) Borders and Berwick: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to the Scottish Borders and Tweed Valley. The Rutland Press, Edinburgh

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