For hundreds of years the inhabitants of the Border lands around Gretna lived in an area which was neither Scotland nor England. They were constantly ravaged by the warring armies of Scotland and England when their campaigns took them either south or north.
To etch a living in these circumstances was almost impossible. How to survive was no doubt uppermost on their minds. Do as thou shalt be done by could have been their motto.
"We will take back what was taken from.us with interest. We will Reive". So the Border Reiver was born, claiming no allegiance to any country nor Crown. "The Debatable Lands will be our lands, let no man enter without paying a forfeit ". SO a infamous breed of individual was created.
These days the descendants of the Reivers are still abundant despite all efforts by the Crown to eradicate them, the life style may have changed somewhat but look in any phone book for Dumfries & Galloway or Cumbria and the Reiver names still dominate, Grahams, Armstrongs, Bells, Littles, Elliots, Maxwells, Johnstones, Jardines, Moffats, Kerrs, Scotts, Douglases. These were the names which were feared on a dark night when it was time for the Reivers to go to work to survive.
The Reivers could put thousands of men to horse in a short time when their lands needed to be defended or when revenge was taken. Blackmail, Ransoms, protection and theft were the tools of the Reivers trade. Many of their strong holds are long gone, destroyed when the union of the Crowns came to pass. Some still remain and have become a Mecca for visitor from all over the world when searching for their family roots.
Gretna (Graitney) played a significant part in the history of Reiver, a ideal buffer zone due to the unpredictable shifting sands and fast bore of the tidal estuary known as the Solway Firth. Today Gretna is the obvious location to be based for those excursions into the lands of the Reiver and is also the home of Border Reiver Tours. The abundance of excellent accommodation and close proximity to the historical Reiver sites it is second to none
For further information on the Border Reivers visit: