Battle site of the Redeswire Fray (1575) ***

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© Copyright Walter Baxter and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


A lonely spot with great views across the 'debeatable lands' and also a spot with a story.

On 7 July 1575 a furious border skirmish, later dubbed the Redeswire (or Reidswire) Fray, took place between Scottish and English 'Wardens of the Marches’ just east of Carter Bar.

At the site there is a small monument with inscription: ON THIS RIDGE JULY 7th 1575 WAS FOUGHT ONE OF THE LAST BORDER FRAYS KNOWN AS THE RAID OF THE REDESWIRE

In order to prevent hostilities the Scots and English had set up a series of regularly scheduled ” Truce Days”. It was on one of these days that things turned sour.

Sir John Carmichael, the Scottish Warden of the Western March had assembled a small band of pikemen and gunmen in Liddesdale and was preparing to meet his counter part Sir John Forster at Carter Bar. Forster was known for double-dealing, and Carmichael knew it could turn into a battle.

The Scots met with the English and, as expected, insults flew from both sides. The truce turned into a small battle, starting with cannon and bow shots from the English. The English were getting the better but the timely arrival of Scottish reinforcements from Jedburgh gave the Scots an advantage. The English were routed. Forster was captured, and many other notable English nobles were killed. As the Scots did not really want to anger Queen Elizabeth, the English prisoners were treated quite humanely and then released.