Durham — Border Reiver 1513-1603 (Mantovani)


Keith Durham

Border Reiver 1513-1603

Warrior 154. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2011. 64pp. $ 18.95/ 3 11.99/ CAN $ 22.00. ISBN 978-1-84908-193-1.


From the end of the 13th century until the ascension to the English throne of James VI of Scotland in 1603 the Anglo-Scottish Borderland was a battleground for both great armies and small raiding parties conducted by the Borders themselves. Encouraged by their governments to make raids across the borders, many engaged in such illegal activities which rapidly became an accepted way of life. Lightly equipped, sometimes carrying old-fashioned but effective weapons such as longbows or small crossbows, the raiders took advantage of their knowledge of the difficult terrain between the two countries, which with its valleys and hills provided excellent cover. They could inflict a great deal of damage and the houses in the Border region reflected the inhabitants’ need of protection: tower houses, bastles (defensible farmhouses) and other robust buildings dotted the countryside as a remainder of those troubled times. In order to oppose the Reivers both governments appointed the March Wardens. Theirs was not an enviable task: often underpaid, sometimes outmanned and outgunned, they not only had to oppose the raiders, but also struggled with their respective governments to obtain more money. Along with military matters the book provides some interesting details of the Borderers’ way of life, for instance how they employed their spare time, their religion beliefs, which kind of food and drinks they enjoyed the most. This work is valuable in recreating the turbulent saga of these fine and lawless cavalrymen, adding a good number of contemporary descriptions and accounts which any curious reader will enjoy. Being the author an expert in the field, this book can be read in conjunction with two works of his published by Osprey: The Border Reivers (Men-at-arms 279) and Strongholds of the Border Reivers (Fortress 70).


Sergio Mantovani

<s.manto@infinito.it>


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