The ‘Border Reivers’

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Laurncekirk Rotary Club were treated to a fascinating talk on “the Border Reivers” by Dr Ian Williamson, a local retired university lecturer.

He was brought up in Carlisle and his family genealogy featured Armstrong, a pivotal family in the turbulent history of the Borders, and thus his researches of the Border Reivers.

In good academic practice Dr Williamson first defined his subject “Reiver” as a mounted raider or thief.

Scotland and England were continually at war during the Middle Ages and the borders were ransacked by these confrontations compelling the locals, both Scottish and English, to seek a living by cunning at the expense of both sides.

Wardens were appointed to the Marches to uphold the law but they, too, were corrupt, and both nations found it expedient to have the Reivers.

As soldiers, the Border Reivers were considered among the finest light cavalry in all Europe. However, after centuries of acrimony, theft and disruption similar to the wild west, James VI of Scotland, now also King of England, moved hard on the reivers and abolished the local laws and dealt out stern judgement.

The Borders Reivers existence had lasted for some 300 years. Many border families were broken up and scattered around Scotland and others moved to Ireland , England and America.

Interestingly, some of the Laurencekirk Rotarians looked a bit sheepish as their surnames were read out as descendants of the infamous reivers - Kerr, Robson , Bell and Johnston.

Stuart Kerr thanked Dr Williamson for his stimulating talk .

At another meeting, President Alf Lawrie welcomed Scott Hendry, Liam McPherson and Sean Elliot who were members of a 13-strong Mearns Academy party who visited Ghana on a community project this year.

The pupils raised their own funding and the trip was organised by Venture Force, a UK provider of such projects. Their leader was Niall Ritchie, a principal teacher at Banchory Academy.

The main aim of the trip was to help build a new home for orphans at Eugemot Orphanage which accommodated some 80 youngsters from three to 18 years opf age n very cramped conditions.

The Mearns Group immersed themselves in a very different lifestyle, culture and language and regularly played lively games with the pupils.

set of football strips, gifted by Auchenblae School, were hugely appreciated by the orphans and, excited in their new attire, they trounced the visitors in their own version of the world cup.

When not making concrete blocks, the students had a series of trips to places of local interest such as monkey sanctuaries, an iconic waterfall and weaving villages.

A visit to Ghana’s bustling capital Accra, with its two million population and huge building sites, was also a revelation to the Howe visitors.

The orphans’ living accommodation, their poor water supply and so few text books and their joy at meeting and playing with their young visitors had a huge effect on the students perception of life.

Scott, Liam and Sean are fine ambassadors for the Trip and Mearns Academy and gave their presentation with great detail, depth and humour.

The trio were thanked by Douglas Lamb .