A charcoal drawing of what the castle probably looked like


On March 21 in the year of our Lord 1274, the Earl of Carrick,  Robert I Bruce, was born.

History arguably suggests Robert was born at Castle Turnberry on the coast of Ayrshire, Scotland. The history of Turnberry is another story in the set of Fun Histories for kids.

Two years before Robert's birth, Edward Plantagenet, Edward I (1239 - 1307), ascended the throne of England. Edward I conquered Wales then declared war on Scotland where he was euphemistically known as "the Hammer of the Scots."

The mistreatment of the Scots by Edward I followed in 1307 by Edward II elicited the best rebel spirit in Robert The Bruce who rallied the clans and in 1314 at Bannockburn trashed  a much larger army which was sent by Edward II to punish the Scots for their rebellious spirit.

That victory wrested control of Scotland from the despised English monarchy.

Robert The Bruce went on to become the first King of Scotland but that is another story in the "Fun Histories" (AKA "Potted "Histories), collection for kids.

Bruce whose astonishing victory at Bannockburn in 1314 over the much larger and better-equipped forces of Edward II



People along the Anglo-Scot border still remember in folklore and fact the stories told around the campfires of their ancestors; of independent people  loyal to their clan chief and recognized the authority of no king.

It began when warrior King Robert I the Bruce defeated the large English army at Bannockburn and made Scotland free of England.

Between the time of Robert the Bruce (1274 - 1329) and Stuart King Charles Edward I (1766-1788),  a hundred clans ruled their ancestral lands.

Fiercely territorial and loyal to no king, these clans swore allegiance only to their chief. They devised and brutally enforced their own laws with the lance, sword and bow. They bequeathed words like blackmail, kidnap, and bereaved to the English language.

They were Border Reivers and earned their reputations well recorded in a thousand books. These night raiders swiftly rode by dark of moon, took revenge upon their foes and left their villages aglow.

Night Riders were they called, the enforcers of their clans. History dubbed them "Reivers" and called the bloody lands that absorbed their blood, "The Debatable Lands."

Woe to the erstwhile stranger who found themselves on the road at night without escort or protection, who were considered to be spies and robbed at the least, and killed at the worst. Strangers were not welcome in that land.

A little more hard history of the borders:

1603 James VI of Scotland also became James I of England in a ceremony euphemistically known as the union of the crowns.  He then set out to unify the two countries.  The Marches in reference to the best pathways into and out of Scotland, and the positions of Warden of the March, were abolished. The border region was then for awhile known as the Middle Shires.

Wanted men were hunted down and hanged,; borderers could not carry weapons or own a good horse. Later on clans were removed from their ancestral lands.

Some turncoat clans swore allegiance to the hated tyrant king and turned against their own people so they could keep part of their land.

This trend also cropped up in Ireland in the middle 17th century.

Other clans who remained true to their beliefs, including the Elliot's, Graham's, Armstrong's and Rutledge's were deported to the plantations in Ulster.

When Charles Edward Stuart holder of both crowns continued to shake up the borders, strong armies attacked the reiver clans from both sides of the border, drove them into swamps, surrounded their hiding places, torched their homes, hanged hundreds of warriors and effectively broke the clan structure.

The remnants of those families scattered throughout the UK, some to the highlands and some blended into English culture. Others were deported to Ulster, but many packed up everything they could and emigrated to Colonial America.

Now, some three hundred and fifty years later, some ignorant historians have tossed them into one basket and called them, "Scots (or Scotch) Irish."

It is no less curious that many of the Reiver surnames were neither Scot nor English, and nowhere in very old records are they referred to as Scotch.

For those who forget this fact, please check your history. Robert The Bruce was king of the Scots, not king of the Scotch.

This Scotch nickname is a common mistake made by ignorant or sloppy authors down through the ages, and often repeated by contemporary researchers who parrot that label,  an insulting and most deplorable nickname for a Scot.

Some contemporary descendents of ancestors who lived on the borders claim that they descend from Vikings, Normans, or other bloodlines including Picts. Some of them were, but some were not, reivers of course, and now it is time to meet them.

Now meet the Border Reivers and introduce yourselves.

Donald O'Collaugh O'Kelly, Potted Histories, Fun Histories  March 1996

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