Latest news from Berwick History Society
A thousand years ago, a decisive battle determined the Scottish-English border.
Curiously, it is named after a village on the English side of the Tweed, Carham, despite the battle’s effect of bringing the region North of the Tweed, Lothian, into the nascent Kingdom of Scotland.
This may have been around the time when the settlement which became Berwick-upon-Tweed was established.
July 2018 will see a re-enactment of the battle at Carham.
At the latest meeting of Berwick History Society, local historian James Bruce put forward a convincing case for the date and importance of the battle – both matters of dispute by historians.
And he argued interestingly for a location at Morebattle/Linton, on the (modern) St Cuthbert’s Way.
First putting the battle into its 10th/11th century context, when Danes, Saxons, Scots and Britons were all wrestling for control, James drew on medieval sources and up-to-date scholarship, including Dr Alex Woolf, of St Andrews University.
A comet, combined with somewhat conflicting contemporary accounts, dates the battle at 1018.
As with many ancient battles, conclusive evidence for its location is lacking.
However, using place-name linguistic analysis, local history and geographic observation, James made the case for a Morebattle/Linton site.
An intriguing cache of 50 weapon-damaged skulls found during 19th century restoration work at Linton church might provide conclusive evidence – if they could be found again and scientifically analysed.
A good audience enjoyed the paper and the lively question time it generated.
The society’s next meeting, which is to be held jointly with Berwick-upon-Tweed Civic Society, is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, October 17, at 7.30pm, at the parish centre on the Parade.
There is a £2 charge on the door for non-members of the societies.