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The Reivers

Who Were The Reivers?

To ‘reive’ is to rob or plunder (the word bereft survives). In Scotland, the Reivers are associated with the Borders and the lawless 16th century. This was a violent and fearful time when homes were burned, cattle stolen and men killed. The only redress was a counter raid to win back some cattle - perhaps those you lost, perhaps not.

But it’s thanks to the Reivers that great stories echo round this beautiful landscape, stories populated by larger than life characters such as 'Nebless Clem' Crozier and Jock 'Stowlugs' Armstrong. They lived in 'pele' towers', three or four stories tall, one room per floor. Cattle were stored for protection in the vaulted basement; on the roof was an iron fire basket for the bale fire, lit to warn neighbours of impending attack.

By the light of the harvest moon they rode familiar tracks across the hills to lift cattle and so keep their families alive. If there was no food in the larder, Border wives were known to put a pair of spurs on her man's plate: "Get out there!". The Border ballads and many of today's traditions stretch back to those "riding days". It's a unique culture, little known outside the Borders, and we look forward to exploring it with you.

Follow our six trails: Hermitage, Ettrick, Dryhope, Traquair, Hume and Flodden.

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