An account of life on the English-Scottish border, in the land between the rivers Tyne and Forth, covering the
historical, the political, the scenic and the merely entertaining, and getting ready to report on the changes to daily life which the campaign for Scottish independence may bring about.
Tuesday, 6 March 2012
Welcome to the Borders
This is a picture of the old bridge at Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Where I live. You can just see the modern road bridge in the background, and
beyond that is the railway bridge. But contrary to what you might expect, the
river Tweed at this point is not the border between England and Scotland. Cross
to the north bank via any of these three bridges, and you’re still in England.
That’s what makes us a grey area. Travel west a bit to Coldstream and there the
bridge across the Tweed is logically and sensibly the border between the two
nations. But Berwick is a historical anomaly. It has been separated from the
county of Berwickshire, which lies across the border, and is now part of
Northumberland. The letters page of the Berwick Advertiser is still from time
to time taken over by claim and counter claim about why the town is quite
definitely and indisputably the rightful property of either Scotland or England,
according to the treaty of something-or-other, but I’m not going to get into
that. The reason I’m writing this blog is that life on the English-Scottish
border has become increasingly interesting since Scotland obtained devolution
and elected a Nationalist government which has now announced a referendum on
independence. Many aspects of daily life
in the Borders have become uncertain in light of the possibility of Scottish
independence, and I plan to keep reporting on them. Historically the area
covered by the term ‘debatable land’ is broadly that between the cities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Edinburgh. The area
that neither the English or Scottish governments really thought about much,
except to curse it as a damn nuisance. Arguably government still doesn’t think
about it much - ask anyone in Berwick what they think about Northumberland
County Council, then stand well back. We may be debatable but we’re real and
we’re here, and this blog is about us.