Saturday, 2 July 2011

Writers and Reivers:A walk with author Alistair Moffat through Border History

This afternoon I spent in the company of the Border's author,Alistair Moffat.Well known for his previous work with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the 1970's he later became director of programmes with Scottish Television. A native of Kelso he has now returned to the Borders to live where in 2004 he founded the Border's Book Festival in Melrose. He has had success with several recent historical publications: The Borders (2005), The Reivers (2007) and The Scots A Genetic Journey (2011).
Alistair had kindly agreed to accompany us on a walk from Corehead farm into the Devil's Beef Tub - a large corrie formed in the last Ice Age and reputedly the former haunt of the Reivers coralled cattle,sheep and goats.
Stopping as we made our way along the numerous sheep paths,Alistair regaled us with stories of the turbulent life of the Border Reivers from his book The Reivers.

The final stop beside the sheep stell (a circular stone dyke pen) it was easy to imagine the description by Sir Walter Scott in his novel, Redgauntlet as “if four hills were laying their heads together, to shut out daylight from the dark hollow space between them. A dammed deep, black, blackguard-looking abyss of a hole it is”

Alistair ended with his observations of a typical Borderer.Perhaps typified by the former Scottish rugby player,Jim Telfer and the former English footballer,Jackie Charlton. Both holders of former Reiving surnames.
You can join Alistair Moffat in a more salubrious setting at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Friday 26 August 3.30-4.30 at Scottish Power Studio where he will talk about Unravelling Scotland's DNA -the theme of his latest book.

Corehead in upper Annandale was bought by the Borders Forest Trust (BFT) in 2009 by public subscription and through traditional agricultural practices and ecological restoration techniques, is bringing the landscape into conservation management, creating native woodlands, wetlands, hay meadows and heather moorland habitats


  1. A great article, really interesting!


    Mark de Zabaleta


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