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Berwickshire- Witness of Tug of War between Scotland and England


Berkwickshire, also referred to as the County of Berwick, is situated in the extreme south of Scotland on the coast of German Ocean and borders northeastern England. Situated on the estuary of Tweed River, it was first named Berwick-upon-Tweed. Later, after its administrative merger with Belford Rural District, Glendale Rural District, and Norham-Islandshires Rural District, it became known as the Borough of Berwickshire-upon-Tweed.

Brief History

Berwick witnessed a series of raids, sieges, and wars due to its strategic position on the England-Scotland border. Berwickshire is said to have been exchanged by England and Scotland more than thirteen times during the period from 1147 to 1482.

The ancient heritage of Berwickshire can be traced back to the kingdom of Northumbria. Afterwards, in 1020, the Earl of Northumberland ceded it to Malcolm II, the then King of Scotland.

In the 13th century Berwick was one of the most popular trading ports and became a commercial hub. Berwick’s exports included grain, wool, salmon, and other goods. A number of merchants from Germany and the Low Countries also set up their businesses there. Berwick occupied a place in the four royal burghs of Scotland during the reign of King David I. The people of Berwick enjoyed some special privileges and rights due to the royal significance imparted to their town.

Still, Berwick was a constant area of disputes and continual conflicts between the Scots and the English. In 1482 it was finally ceded to England.

In 1603 James VI of Scotland crossed the Berwick Bridge while he was on his way to becoming James I of England. It is assumed that while he was passing through he declared that the town neither belonged to Scotland nor did it belong to England. Rather he wanted it to be a part of the United Crown’s domain.

The year 1639 was marked by the negotiation between the army of Charles I and that of General Alexander Leslie that took place at Berwick. This settlement was known as “the Pacification of Berwick,” under which the all controversies were to be referred to the Scottish Parliament or a General Assembly.

The County Council of Berwick was formed in 1890. The grant of arms by Lord Lyon was made on October 10th of the same year. When the district council was abolished in the year 1996, the arms were reverted to the crown.

Until 1885, Berwick was not included in Northumberland. Later, in the year 1974, the Borough of Berwick-upon-tweed was created. In 2009 it was abolished when a lot of structural changes were made to the local structural government of England. Northumberland County Council took charge of functions previously exercised by the Berwick Borough Council. 

Berwickshire includes the royal burgh of Lauder and famous towns like Greenlaw, Dunse, Coldstream, and Eyemouth as well as numerous small villages. It comprises thirty-four parishes and three major civil districts, Merse, Lammermoor, and Lauderdale. Queen Elizabeth I of England spent a huge sum of money on the fortification of Berwickshire in the Italian style. Though most of these castles were later demolished to build railways in the city, you can still see the remains of military barracks and the rampart walls of the town for which it is quite famous.