Scottish Borders

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Scottish Borders
The Mairches (Scots)
Crìochan na h-Alba (Scottish Gaelic)
Scottish Borders in Scotland.svg
Scottish Borders Council logo.svg
Coordinates: 55°21′36″N2°29′24″W / 55.36000°N 2.49000°W / 55.36000; -2.49000 Coordinates: 55°21′36″N2°29′24″W / 55.36000°N 2.49000°W / 55.36000; -2.49000
Sovereign state Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Country Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland
Lieutenancy areas Berwickshire, Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale, Tweeddale
Admin HQ Newtown St Boswells
  BodyScottish Borders Council
  Control Con + Ind (council NOC)
  Total1,827 sq mi (4,732 km2)
  Rank Ranked 6th
 (mid-2019 est.)
  Rank Ranked 18th
  Density63/sq mi (24/km2)
ONS code S12000026
ISO 3166 code GB-SCB
Largest town Galashiels
Topographic map of Scottish Borders and Lothian Topo map Scottish Borders, Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian.png
Topographic map of Scottish Borders and Lothian

The Scottish Borders (Scots : the Mairches, lit. 'the Marches'; Scottish Gaelic : Crìochan na h-Alba) is one of 32 council areas of Scotland. [1] It borders the City of Edinburgh, Dumfries and Galloway, East Lothian, Midlothian, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian and, to the south-west, south and east, the English counties of Cumbria and Northumberland. The administrative centre of the area is Newtown St Boswells.


The term Scottish Borders, or normally just "the Borders", is also used to designate the areas of southern Scotland and northern England that bound the Anglo-Scottish border.


The Scottish Borders are in the eastern part of the Southern Uplands. [2]

The region is hilly and largely rural, with the River Tweed flowing west to east through it. The highest hill in the region is Broad Law in the Manor Hills. In the east of the region, the area that borders the River Tweed is flat and is known as 'The Merse'. [3] The Tweed and its tributaries drain the entire region with the river flowing into the North Sea at Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland, and forming the border with England for the last twenty miles or so of its length.

The term Central Borders refers to the area in which the majority of the main towns and villages of Galashiels, Selkirk, Hawick, Jedburgh, Earlston, Kelso, Newtown St Boswells, St Boswells, Peebles, Melrose and Tweedbank are located.

Two of Scotland's 40 national scenic areas (defined so as to identify areas of exceptional scenery and to ensure their protection from inappropriate development) [4] lie within the region: [5]

Largest towns

2011 [8]


The term Borders sometimes has a wider use, referring to all of the counties adjoining the English border, also including Dumfriesshire and Kirkcudbrightshire, as well as Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland in England.

Roxburghshire and Berwickshire historically bore the brunt of the conflicts with England, both during declared wars such as the Wars of Scottish Independence, and armed raids which took place in the times of the Border Reivers. During this period, at the western end of the border there was a strip of country, called the "Debatable Land", because the possession of it was a constant source of contention between England and Scotland until its boundaries were adjusted in 1552. [9] Thus, across the region are to be seen the ruins of many castles, abbeys and even towns. The only other important conflict belongs to the Covenanters' time, when the marquess of Montrose was defeated at the Battle of Philiphaugh in 1645. Partly for defence and partly to overawe the freebooters and moss-troopers who were a perpetual threat until they were suppressed later in the 17th century, castles were erected at various points on both sides of the border. [10]

From early on, the two sovereigns agreed on the duty to regulate the borders. The Scottish Marches system was set up, under the control of three wardens from each side, who generally kept the peace through several centuries until being replaced by the Middle Shires under James VI/I. [10]

The council area was created in 1975, by merging the historic counties of Berwickshire, Peeblesshire, Roxburghshire, and Selkirkshire and part of Midlothian, as a two-tier region with the districts of Berwickshire, Ettrick and Lauderdale, Roxburgh, and Tweeddale within it. In 1996 the region became a unitary authority area and the districts were wound up. The region was created with the name Borders. Following the election of a shadow area council in 1995 the name was changed to Scottish Borders with effect from 1996. [11]

Language and literature

Although there is evidence of some Scottish Gaelic in the origins of place names such as Innerleithen ("confluence of the Leithen"), Kilbucho and Longformacus, which contain identifiably Goidelic rather than Brythonic Celtic elements and are an indication of at least a Gaelic-speaking elite in the area, the main languages in the area since the 5th century appear to have been Brythonic (in the west) and Old English (in the east), the latter of which developed into its modern forms of English and Scots.

Border ballads occupied a distinctive place in literature. Many of them were rescued from oblivion by Walter Scott, who gathered materials for his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, which appeared in 1802 and 1803. Border traditions and folklore, and the picturesque incidents of which the country was so often the scene, appealed strongly to James Hogg ("the Ettrick Shepherd"), John Wilson, writing as "Christopher North", and John Mackay Wilson, whose Tales of the Borders, published in 1835, enjoyed popular favour throughout the 1800s. [10]


There are two British Parliamentary constituencies in the Scottish Borders; Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk covers most of the region and is represented by John Lamont of the Conservatives. The western Tweeddale area is included in the Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale constituency and is represented by David Mundell of the Conservatives.

At Scottish Parliament level, there are also two seats. The eastern constituency is Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, which is currently represented by Conservative Rachael Hamilton. The western constituency is Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale and is represented by SNP Christine Grahame.

Map of the area's wards (2007 to 2017 configuration) Scottish Borders UK ward map (blank).svg
Map of the area's wards (2007 to 2017 configuration)

Following the 2022 Scottish Borders Council election, the Conservative/Independent coalition will continue to run the council. [12]

Political partySeats
Conservative 14
Scottish National Party 9
Independent 7
Liberal Democrats 3
Greens 1


At the Census held on 27 March 2011, the population of the region was 114,000 (provisional total), an increase of 6.78% from the 106,764 enumerated at the previous (2001) Census.


Until September 2015, the region had no working railway stations. Although the area was well connected to the Victorian railway system, the branch lines that supplied it were closed in the decades following the Second World War. A bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament to extend the Waverley Line, which aimed to re-introduce a commuter service from Edinburgh to Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank. This section of the route re-opened on 6 September 2015, under the Borders Railway branding. The other railway route running through the region is the East Coast Main Line, with Edinburgh Waverley, Dunbar and Berwick being the nearest stations on that line, all of which are outwith the Borders. Since 2014 there has been discussion [13] of re-opening the station at Reston which is within the region and would serve Eyemouth. To the west, Carlisle, Carstairs and Lockerbie are the nearest stations on the West Coast Main Line.

The area is served by buses which connect the main population centres. Express bus services link the main towns with rail stations at Edinburgh and Carlisle.

The region also has no commercial airports; the nearest are Edinburgh and Newcastle, both of which are international airports.

The main roads to and from the region are:

Towns and villages

Part of the Scottish Borders Council offices at Newtown St. Boswells Scottish Borders Council Regional Headquarters.jpg
Part of the Scottish Borders Council offices at Newtown St. Boswells

Places of interest

See also

Notes and references

  1. "[Archived Content] UK Government Web Archive – The National Archives". Internet Memory Foundation. Archived from the original on 5 February 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  2. "Accommodation – Dumfries and Galloway – Ayrshire and Arran – Scottish Borders – Southern South West Scotland – Hotels – Bed and Breakfasts – Self Catering Holiday Cottages". Archived from the original on 8 November 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  3. p. 47 ofBanks, F. R. (Francis Richard) (1951), Scottish Border Country, Batsford, retrieved 20 October 2016
  4. "National Scenic Areas". Scottish Natural Heritage. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  5. "National Scenic Areas – Maps". SNH. 20 December 2010. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  6. "Eildon and Leaderfoot National Scenic Area Map" (PDF). Scottish Natural Heritage. 20 December 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 January 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  7. "Upper Tweeddale NSA Map" (PDF). Scottish Natural Heritage . Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  8. "Population of Scottish Borders towns (last count 2011)". Archived from the original on 12 January 2019.
  9. Chisholm 1911, p. 245.
  10. 1 2 3 Chisholm 1911, p. 246.
  11. "No. 23789". The Edinburgh Gazette . 26 May 1995. p. 1333.
  12. "Scottish election results 2022: First Green for Scottish Borders Council". BBC News. 6 May 2022. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  13. Rinaldi, Giancarlo (18 March 2016). "Borders Railway future goals drawn up". BBC News.

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