We're quickly at Flodden Battlefield to learn about a devastating day for Scotland. Then, following the foothills of the Cheviots we're on small pretty roads with wide views and reiving stories. There's qypsy music at Kirk and Town Yetholm - the twin towns where the clan chiefs were buried after Flodden. We cross Roman 'Dere Street' before dropping into Jedburgh with its stunning medievil abbey. The way back to Hawick, home of Scottish knitwear, is by Denholm, birthplace of two extraordinary men who made an impact on the world.
Trail length is 40 miles, driving time is approximately 1 ¼ hr and the trail will take you a full day.
Please explore the trail map and plan your day by taking advantage of your Reivers Pass, free when you buy this trail.
For the best audio experience please download our free App to your Mobile/Tablet device enabling GPS activation and allowing you to relax, and just Drive and Discover.
Musical excerpts from "A Reivers Moon" By kind permission of Ian Landles and Alan Brydon
Drone footage by Above the Borders and Borders Aerial Photography
Sir James Augustus Henry Murray
1837 – 1915
James Murray was born in Denholm near Hawick, the son of a draper. From 1879 until his death in 1914, he was the principal editor of the first Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Aged 17, he had became a teacher at Hawick Grammar School and three years later he was the headmaster. In 1864 he and his wife moved to London 'to escape the Scottish winters' and he took a job in a bank whilst still pursuing his consuming interest in language and philology. He spoke six languages and had a good knowledge of twelve more. In April 1878 he was invited to Oxford to discuss editing a new dictionary of the English language. It was expected to take ten years to complete and be four volumes. When the final results were published fifty years later, it ran to twelve volumes. Each of his eleven children survived to maturity (unusual at that time) and helped him in the compilation of the OED. Murray is remembered in the 2019 film starring Mel Gibson, 'The Professor and the Madman'.
1460 – 1538
Isabella Hoppringle was a Scottish abbess - and a spy. Abbess of Coldstream Abbey from 1505 to 1538, she belonged to a local landowning family which often provided abbesses to the abbey, and was a personal friend of the Scottish queen, Margaret Tudor. Close to the border of England and Scotland, the abbey was in the midst of the warfare between the nations in 1513. On hearing of the carnage at Flodden, she instructed that the bodies of the dead be brought to her for burial in consecrated ground. This noble act is still commemorated each August by a ceremony in the town. Overall, she skillfully managed to balance the interests of the two nations to the benefit of the abbey and was reputed to be the best agent England had in Scotland. In 1538, she was succeeded as abbess – and reputedly as agent – by her relative Janet Pringle.
Thomas Howard Earl of Surrey
1443 – 1524
Thomas Howard was 70 years old when he led the victorious English army for King Henry VIII at the Battle of Flodden, refusing to fight on ground chosen by James IV. A clever and experienced campaigner, he had fought under three previous English kings and spent three years in the Tower of London after being on the losing side at the Battle of Bosworth. The father of seventeen children, he was the grandfather of both Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. Following Flodden he was created Duke of Norfolk with heraldic arms augmented with the Scottish lion pierced through the mouth with an arrow.
Andrew Kerr of Cessford
1485 – 1526
Andrew Kerr, 'heidsman' of the Kerrs, built Cessford Castle. He led his men to join James IV at nearby Flodden in 1513 and survived. Continuing as a power in the land, he became ‘Warden of the Middle March’ in 1515 and was killed in 1526 while escorting King James V to London. His son Walter was later summoned to Edinburgh by Mary Queen of Scots to ‘consult upon sic things as shall be thair ado’ prior to her visit to the Borders. The original of the letter is held by Sir Walter's descendants and is on display in Floors Castle by Kelso.