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Old 24th November 2022, 11:50 PM   #1
Peter Hudson
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Default THE BORDER REIVERS.

For my main reference I will lean heavily on a good solid base of information at Wikipedia and begin with a quote and a few questions since Sir Walter Scott is said to have quoted Elizabeth 1st as having said that "With ten thousand such men, James VI could shake any throne in Europe."

Thus my question is; If this was the case then why didnt the English recruit these superb horsemen into their order of battle and who were they and what became of them?

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Old 25th November 2022, 01:27 AM   #2
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Hello Peter and thank you for bringing up this topic! I have only recently started to study these clans of the Southwest regions of Scotland. I recently found out through Ancestry.com that I'm 27% Scot and realized it was on my paternal grandmother's side. She was a Young. The Young clan were one of the many family groups of this region that were made up of the Border Reivers. As you probably already read, they were ferocious fighters who attacked other clans and also the English over their border (thus the name!). I would imagine they made great warriors, but by their very nature, they were not 'team players'. I always imagine one of their clan being asked to whom do they hold allegiance to and they replying;

"To the three, laddie...me, myself, and I! Now go %$#* off!"

So they held no allegiances and were prickly around others. As I understand it, they were finally crushed by the king's forces near the end of the 16th century. It would indeed have been interesting, had they survived and remained strong, to see where they might have sided during the Jacobite troubles.
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Old 25th November 2022, 08:10 AM   #3
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This is indeed a fascinating and esoteric topic, and as Mark has noted, the fact that their allegiance was primarily to their family or clan likely made them less than reliable for incorporating into regimented ranks. Their well earned reputation as fierce fighters and rugged came with their nature of outlaw character, with the term reiver from Old English, 'reive'=to rob.

Regardless of whether they were ever officially brought into the English order of battle, they were likely involved in degree, and as described, depending on the situation. What I think is important is the influences of the arms and armor used, which seem to consist of interesting assortment of forms from European sources with many apparently associated in the evolution of the famed basket hilt swords of Scotland. These of course were actually evolved in England as well and through these border regions and people.
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Old 25th November 2022, 10:50 AM   #4
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Both Scots and English kings used them in their local wars, but found them inclined to have their own alliances and motivation in combat. The unification removed their reason for existence and James really hated them, especially the Graham family who he outlawed and banished from the UK. The Steel Bonnets by George MacDonald Frazer is a good reference if you can get hold of it.
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Old 25th November 2022, 05:40 PM   #5
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Default The Grahams

I'm a Graham; at least I was until my father married my mother.
Her family finally settled down to farming in Ford/Etal but her father ran off with the circus and became a lion tamer.
We were not alone in our infamy: the bloody Armstrongs and Robsons were equally unpleasant... they are still a thorn in my side - having employed both over the years.
It has now become fashionable, up here on the borders, to take pride in your Reiver ancestry.
The value of such prestige is as debatable as the borderlands; although our Port wines can inspire such confidence.
Here's our crest:
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Old 25th November 2022, 05:54 PM   #6
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What, who is the hawk, eagle eating?

Never mind. I found an answer https://www.scotsconnection.com/clan_crests/Graham.htm . I did not find out what the stork represented.
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Old 25th November 2022, 06:02 PM   #7
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Default ornithology

It is a falcon killing a stork... don't ask me about the provenance or intention.
If anyone knows - please enlighten us.
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Old 26th November 2022, 04:55 AM   #8
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To be fair, many of the clans did not get along. There was frequent fighting between families and even in-fighting between members. The Highland clans didn't typically like the Lowlanders, etc. We even see this division when it came to the Rebellion periods. Not all Jacobites were Highlanders and vice versa. I've heard of the two separate groups of Clan Campbell, for instance, one supported the Bonny Prince, while the other King George I. So the Reivers weren't exactly a standout in this area. I think what made them 'infamous' was their ferocity, their refusal to 'take a side' and the fact that they did most certainly shake up the establishment on the English border. During their raids, no one was spared some grief, I imagine!
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Old 26th November 2022, 01:28 PM   #9
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Default Sorry Peter

I have dragged this thread in an irrelevant direction I'm afraid; sorry Peter.
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Old 26th November 2022, 01:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Hudson View Post
Thus my question is; If this was the case then why didn't the English recruit these superb horsemen into their order of battle and who were they and what became of them?
I don't think they were recruit-able.
You suggested yesterday that only by essentially enslaving them could they be commandeered, but I suspect they fought to the death at every opportunity.
Execute them or (as you also suggested) banish them.
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Old 26th November 2022, 01:43 PM   #11
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Default Blood of the Clans

For anyone interested in Clan warfare and all its details (such as dress and weaponry) I can seriously recommend this BBC 3 part documentary by Neil Oliver.
https://www.facebook.com/Dazzlerfilm...6451934449838/
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Old 26th November 2022, 04:26 PM   #12
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As noted, this is a fascinating topic, and seldom specified in most historical studies of Great Britain, but the 'Reivers' were a distinguishable group for centuries in these border regions between North England and Scotland. While references claim they existed as such as far as the early 17th century, it is of course obvious that they did not disappear, but simply became less known as a cohesive entity. They clearly assimilated into the societies of the recognized nations on either side which had effectively unified into one nation, Great Britain, so the outlaw convention had become infeasible under one law .
The inevitable strife remained, however political rather than warring.

The addition of personal geneological anecdotes here has greatly enhanced the dynamic of this discussion and for my view, heightened the discussion colorfully!
I would note that my own grandfather, a Highlander from the Western Isles, was noted in family lore to have advised, when choosing a wife, several attributes to seek, BUT be sure 'she is not a Campbell'.
This rather illustrates the internecine strife that existed between clans in Scotland, much as in most tribal cultures.

To best understand the character of these situations, with the many aspects of the Jacobite uprisings; the Stuart cause; Whig history; religious conflicts and clan conflicts of the British Isles the best reference I have found is "The Myth of the Jacobite Clans", Murray Pittock, 2009.

While not mentioning the Border Reivers by name, they were certainly part of the dynamics profoundly described in this analysis of these times .

Getting back to the main topic here, I would say that it was not just that Border Reivers were not specifically 'recruited' into one army or another, it that just as in most cases, people were not exactly 'card carrying' members of any specific group, clan or otherwise.Therefore though not 'officially' members of one army or another, they did function in auxiliary status in degree and as circumstances were in their favor. It is clearly noted that Reivers had only 'one side', which was their own family group, and that prevailed over all else.

Much as the famed 'pandours' in Europe, who were comprised of various ethnic and national groups and operated in assembled as raiding forces under the auspices of Austria in the mid 18th century, the 'Reivers' were much the same only less 'committed' to one specific controlling entity.

The 'pandours' adopted their own styles of warfare as well as weaponry, in the same manner the Reivers did, unique and effectively terrifying.
As I have mentioned, it would be interesting to look into the types of arms and armor that characterized the Border Reivers, and the influences that became integral in the development of nationally recognized forms from or through them.

Case in point would be the basket hilt, and how this distinctly formed weapon developed from the hilt forms of certain European swords, and became known in both England and Scotland in the 16th into 17th centuries. Many of the swords known to be used among the Border Reivers became essentially prototypes for what became the Highland hilt, or basket hilt.
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Old 26th November 2022, 05:31 PM   #13
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Thanks to all for the replies ...As it happens Im a Charlton on my mothers side and even they were largely uprooted and moved to the Durmam coal Fields...Others were either executed often without trial or transported. The Apallatian region was heavily planted with Border Reiver names and Nixon and Armstrong were respectively President and moon walker ...both Reiver names. Place names in that region copiedfamous locations in the Border areas such as Durham County...and Durham City as well as Northumberland and Cumberland. It is understood that many dialectic words crop up in Hillbilly linguistics directly linked to Borden Reiver style.

In his book The Northumbrians the author Dan Jackson states that 25,000 Border Reivers were incorporated by Henry V111 into his cavalry making it the finest in Europe....

To compound the problem take a giant stride forward to Marsden Moor in 1644 ..the biggest fight on English soil ever! The Marquis of Newcastle with a couple of thousand Northern Horse on the Royalist side. These were Border Reivers in all but name but all were there in their famous White Coats by which they were then known. Other names were Hobilars and sometimes they took the name of the famous lance they carried..Prickers. The entire outfit was very late since the night before they were all the worse for drink but worse still a Royalist Prince Rupert.. gave them all a huge reprimand before they were placed on the battlefied. Of the roughly 3000 men probably consisting of half Infantry and Half Cav... only about 30 survived a massive Scottish onslaught...The Marquis ran away to the Low countries but a few years later was allowed to return but what about the Border Reivers?
In about 1603 when the amalgamation of Scotland with England occurred and by then the Borders were extinct... not even the word Borders was allowed and new laws were in place essentially trebling the fines against thieves ...and being caught with a horse could mean jail and or the chopping block. Even the famous Galloway horse was doomed thus the famous Border Reivers were closed down, rounded up, and either transported or killed...

To be a Border Reiver meant belonging to a clan like structures not unlike that of The Mafia with a kind of unwritten Reiver Mantra... An Eye For an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth....


The weapons of the Border Reivers is well worth looking at and the next phase I would like to bring on is just that...

Regards,
Peter Hudson.

Last edited by Peter Hudson; 26th November 2022 at 07:31 PM.
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Old 26th November 2022, 05:44 PM   #14
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More great perspective Peter, and it is great to have more dimension revealed on how these distinct Reiver groups were indeed factored into armies in these cases.
As agreed the use of their weapon forms and many terms which have entered vernacular as expressions have shown the profound influence the Reivers have had culturally.

Attached is a paper on the swords of the Reivers (please pardon my scribbled notes in the copy I saved which are not relevant to the printed work).
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File Type: pdf Sword Hilts of the Border Reivers_c1611_1999 F.S.Dixson.pdf (360.4 KB, 107 views)
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Old 26th November 2022, 05:56 PM   #15
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Thanks Jim and nice to see the great artwork you have detailed. Peter

Please download the following;

https://archive.org/details/lordward...p?view=theater
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Old 26th November 2022, 06:28 PM   #16
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So long as the two countries were divided, the borders were policed by neither Scotland nor England; consequently, Reivers could reive in both countries and hide in the borders.
The Borders also provided refuge for Scots families who had been outlawed... as was often the case. These families tended to be politically troublesome as well as criminal, so inevitably they gave allegiance to no-one and stole from everyone.
Brian Moffatt has researched and recorded everything there is to know about the Reivers over on the West side of Northumberland. His website is a monumental - ongoing - work that gives jaw-dropping insight into the Reivers and the debatable lands:
https://fallingangelslosthighways.bl.../?view=classic
Stealing cattle in Scotland and driving it into England... and vice-versa, was simply too good an opportunity to ignore. Stealing weapons from both countries was also a good idea and consequently led to the enormous variety of swords used.
Here on Tyneside we have an expression: "The Wilds of Wannie" meaning beyond civilisation. This comes from the Wansbeck River and hills running West to East across Northumberland about 20 miles north of Newcastle. Once you crossed over, you were in territory that was not policed and obviously dangerous; even after unification it was still not safe.
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Old 26th November 2022, 07:55 PM   #17
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Thanks Keith,
Brian Moffat has more than 6 decades of study on this subject and has amassed a museum load of detail and research second to none. He is well down the road of putting a complete museum of artefacts in Hawick and hopefully we should be visiting there on its completion.

Thanks for your recent e mail last week telling me about Brian Moffat and his incredible saga.

Meanwhile on combing through information at Durham University here is a monumentally important thesis that vitally places The Northern Horse and its theory in warfare into perspective ...It shows how in the 16th C. these English Cavalry were used on the continent and covers how they were deployed as well as fine detail on their armaments.

Thus Please See http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/2743/

Regards Peter Hudson.
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Old 27th November 2022, 06:34 PM   #18
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Quote:
Attached is a paper on the swords of the Reivers (please pardon my scribbled notes in the copy I saved which are not relevant to the printed work).
Yesterday 11:31 AM
Jim, thank you do much for this valuable material! As the Reivers were put down by the early 1600's, these sword types that the article indicates (pre-Claymore) are indeed the types they would have carried. I would also suggest the possible use of the claidheamh da laimh (the Braveheart sword type) during this time period-
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Old 27th November 2022, 07:43 PM   #19
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Thank you M. Eley for your contribution and if I may point to page 35 of my reference it views the various weaponry usually fielded by Border Reivers.

Please see http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/2743/

Clearly there was no possibility for open cavalry tactics as the country in the borders is almost mountainous and thus virtually impossible unless moving singlefile on narrow tracks. However it is easy to see how horse born raiders could infiltrate great distances and apply flank security as well as recconaisance and reporting and not hindered by darkness their sudden appearance could be so effective as Light Cav...It was on the continent where any formal tactical training may have occured where using their inbred ability as hunters and herders and their courage would have been key to their success. Their lances from which the nickname Prickers ...was born.. were excellent as weapons as well as herding stolen animals... Firearms were essentially too costly but some richer Border Reivers possibly carried a pistol or two. The main missile weapon was either a crossbow (Latch) or a longbow. A particular type of curved sabre called a Winjer was carried and armour included a Jack ...a style of waist coat into which metal plates were sewn as a protection against enemy blades. The Lobsterpot head armour was often worn if it could be afforded...otherwise the addition of an axe or dagger may have completed their arms.

Regards,
Peter Hudson.effect.

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Old 27th November 2022, 08:31 PM   #20
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With the 'assembled' nature of these organized groups of 'reivers', while there was a typical range of weaponry and dress, there were no regulations or standards, so 'anything was possible'. Typically on horseback, those mounted would of course not used the huge 'two hand' swords, and these men would have used whatever swords were available. As has been noted however, the most typical weapon was the couched lance. In the 16th century, which seem the period most attended historically, there were many forms of European fighting swords, most of them of types known to be used by the 'landsknechts', German mercenary forces.

The two hander was of course indeed used through the 16th century in Scotland in many cases, but mostly incidentally, as it was not a widely apportioned weapon. As in Europe, these huge swords had been decreasing in general use, and in Scotland, if I understand correctly, many of these had their blades cut down and were used in 'basket hilts'. Perhaps this may have been why the term 'claymore' was used through the 19th c. for the basket hilts, or maybe just a generalized term by then.

In a way I think of the Reivers in the manner of Jesse James during the Civil War, and with Quantrills Raiders. After the war, he and many of these soldiers simply continued their ways though they were now 'outlaws' . When they could no longer operate without impunity, they simply diffused into their own respective clans and no longer operated in the organized groups of before.

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Old 27th November 2022, 11:54 PM   #21
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Thank you Jim... It appears that Border Reivers probably adopted their style from Hobilars...thus I define the Hobilar from ENGLISH INFANTRYMAN c.1320
An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 1
by Ian Heath and I QUOTE"

HOBILAR

The term Hobilar first appeared in 1296, when it was applied to 260 light horsemen raised from the Anglo-Irish feudal estates for service in Scotland under Edward I. The word itself evolved from the native pony or ‘hobby’, 12-14 hands tall, that such a horseman rode, this word probably evolving in turn from the Gaelic obann, meaning quick or nimble. English, as opposed to Anglo-Irish, hobilars first appeared in 1300, closely based on their Irish counterparts but probably on the whole riding larger horses. They were basically mounted infantrymen and were the progenitors of (and in due course were steadily replaced by) the mounted archers of later armies, some of whom were even at first called hobilar-archers, such as were those assigned the duty of guarding the coast in 1364. Hobilars could be found both in magnates’ retinues and in shire levies, and were probably the same as armati.
In 1335 their equipment was laid down as horse, aketon or (coat-of-) plates (though writs of 1359 specify an haubergeon), a bascinet or palet (an unidentified type of helmet that could be of either iron or leather), gorget (either a quilted hood like that of 14 or else an aventail), iron gauntlets, sword, long knife and spear. The horse seems to have usually been valued at about 40s".UNQUOTE.


The region spoken of i.e. The shires of Scotland encompass the Borders of both countries and which formed their ancestral homes before the Union in about 1603... In a logical twist the retentionof the word Borders needed to be sorted thus it was banned from use...there could be no border thus that was that!


Border Reivers had a similar horse called a Galloway bred for its toughness and ability in mountains and cold weather. When the system moved against the Border Reivers it did so across the board and everything they were associated with including their horses was banned and outlawed on pain of death, imprisonment and or transportation. To make matters worse a huge retraining program was instigated to reteach religion to the people. ......Draconian laws meant that men were executed without trial...massive fines were imposed and even Moss Troopers those men trying to escape this system of strict laws and who had run away to Border Rieiver country...among the Marches/wastelands were mercilessly hunted down.

What is quite difficult to build among this disintegration is how the Border Reivers... as a renamed Northern Horse were able to join the English Army ORBAT as crack Cavalry and fight in foreign wars on the continent as well as survive mass transportation to places like The Apalachians and Ireland...often with little chance of returning home.

I hope to show some artwork of their weapons going forward...

Regards
Peter Hudson
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Old 28th November 2022, 12:06 AM   #22
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Border Reivers Weapons See http://reivers.info/reiver-clothing-armour-weapons/
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Old 28th November 2022, 01:38 AM   #23
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Of course! I wasn't thinking about the terrain at all, was I? So the two-handed claidheigm da laim was out. I had heard mention of a 'winjer' before and found the attached information (or at least picture). Looks like an Italian-sytle falchion! Very interesting! Thank you for those excellent references as well. Interesting how the one page mentions the main gauche. Is this weapon associted with this region at that time? The parrying dagger was an excellent implement, I just wasn't sure if there was a preferred use for it over the Scotch dirk or ballock.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/347410558741707302/

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Old 28th November 2022, 03:29 AM   #24
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Indeed the terrain would have decided what sort of tactics were used thus the light cavalry style must have been used as dictated by the hills and mountains. Reivers were not all horse born and anyway the ability to ride into battle and skirmish on foot as required would have been normal...I see no reason to go against the idea of the left hand dagger and sword working in unison where required and where available the possible inclusion of firearms...I think sword blades would have been foreign and marked Andrea Ferrera and or with hogsback marks as well as occasional Solingen wolf marks. Hounslow Hangers could also be expected...

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Old 28th November 2022, 02:05 PM   #25
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In the varying terrains of these regions the tactics would be pretty dependent on conditions and type of terrain as Peter has noted. It seems another of the most deterring factors in mounted attack has often been boggy or sodden ground from extensive rain. In cases of some of the celebrated 'charges' known in history, the 'hell for leather' sort of charge simply did not happen as depicted in embellished accounts, and much of the event was simply a trot or canter.

The interesting horses described as common to the Reivers seem to be forms of pony, smaller than war horses, but effective transportation. It would seem that in many cases, dismounted action as done by dragoons would have been common. Still the favored use of the couched lance would indicate considerable mounted action took place.

It is good to be getting more into the weapons used by the Reivers, and as would be well expected, there would have been a considerable range of forms. As noted, the lance/spear was much favored as a simple and readily available weapon, while swords and daggers of well known 16th century forms were at hand as well. There was some presence of firearms, but limited.

The 'whinger' (sic) was basically a short saber/hanger/cutlass or whatever vernacular term might be chosen. As Mark noted, these were typically the kinds of short heavier blades that were curved and resembled the Italian storta, whose North European counterpart was the 'dusagge'.

Many of these had developed basket type hilts such as those known as 'Sinclair sabers' which Whitelaw (1902); Jacobsen (1940) and Blair (1981) have thought were likely an influence on what became the Scottish basket hilt (in these times termed the 'Irish' hilt, collectively =Gaelic).

Along with these were the full length swords known as 'katzbalgers' as used by landsknechts (German mercenaries in Europe) which often had the same types of developed guards (many were with simple figure 8 guard) in their hilts which were of course included in these influences.

It does seem that in certain cases, there were cases of rapiers in use, and in the 'smoke and fire' analogy, surely the 'main gauche' (left hand dagger)were present with them.

More common were the daggers known as 'ballock' daggers colloquially (for the obvious anatomical resemblance in the hilt shape) but which became known also as the 'dudgeon' dagger, for the wood of the box tree used in the hilt. These were the precursor for the Scottish dirk, again showing the 'Reiver' factor in the development of these Scottish weapon forms along with the famed basket hilt.

The term 'dudgeon' in its foreboding connotation seems to be another term whose place with the origins of various terms have come from the Reivers.
Shakespeare uses the term in MacBeth, "..on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood".
The term dudgeon refers to the 'handle' (of that wood), in those days hilt referred only to the guard of the sword.
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Old 28th November 2022, 03:36 PM   #26
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Here is a superb Reference https://www.gutenberg.org/files/3200...-h/32005-h.htm
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Old 28th November 2022, 05:57 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by urbanspaceman View Post
The value of such prestige is as debatable as the borderlands; although our Port wines can inspire such confidence...
You know Keith, you could by a high-end sword for the price of a bottle of Graham's 'Ne Oublie' Tawny Port ? .
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Old 28th November 2022, 06:24 PM   #28
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There are some excellent video presentations as under;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r10C...VuDnM&index=13

Here everything is covered and readers can chose which sections of The Border Reivers to study. Other important video stories are vital in the Mediaeval history of England Ireland and Scotland.

Regards,
Peter Hudson.
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Old 28th November 2022, 06:46 PM   #29
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An interesting item I found as I continue researching aspects of the Reivers topic,refers to the term 'marches'.

I discovered that 'marches' refer to the regional divisions of border territories indicating the 'border' was not just a simple line of division between Scotland and England, but a well buffered expanse that seems akin to a DMZ.
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Old 28th November 2022, 07:08 PM   #30
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Readers could be mistaken into thinking that Moss Troopers were some sort of extension or follow on from The Border Reivers but that is not the case...From https://carrotherscarruthers.wordpre...moss-troopers/ I QUOTE"

MOSS TROOPS
The term ‘Moss trooper’ is often, but quite erroneously applied to the Anglo-Scots border reiver of the sixteenth century. In fact there was an important difference between them in that most border reivers were otherwise respectable farmers and landowners, who from time to time set forth from their castles to steal livestock from their neighbours – ideally but not invariably on the other side of the border.

Moss troopers on the other hand were landless bandits, usually operating in wandering gangs, lurking in the mosses and maintaining themselves by highway robbery and petty thievery as well as cattle rustling. Initially the moss troopers who preyed on Cromwell’s stragglers and dispatch riders were just such bandits. But once they began to be organised under the command of regular officers such as Augustine (probably Captain Augustine Hoffman, formerly of Leslie’s Horse), and Patrick Gordon, alias ‘Steilhand the Mosser’, they developed into first-class light cavalry." UNQUOTE.
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