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.  

1 comment:

  1. A great beginning! I'm looking forward to an independent and interesting account of life on the borders.