Fortress 70: Strongholds of the Border Reivers: Fortifications of the Anglo-Scottish Border 1296-1603 by Keith Durham

Aug 24th, 2009 | By | Category: Book Reviews

In the year 1296, Edward I of England launched a series of vicious raids across the Anglo-Scottish Border in his attempt to annexe Scotland. The Scots retaliated and the two countries were plunged into 300 years of war in which the Borderland became the frontline and raiding, or ‘reiving,’ encouraged by both sides, became a way of life. Keith Durham examines the Border fortresses, ranging from small, well-defended castles to imposing tower houses, or ‘peles,’ and a variety of fortified farmhouses known as ‘bastles.’ He also investigates the many churches that were strengthened against attack and in times of trouble served as sanctuaries for their congregations. Packed with full-colour photographs and detailed cut-away artwork, this is an ideal historical commentary for any tourist visiting the sites that are dotted across the whole of the Border region.

This is a superb addition to the Osprey series of publications, and manages to pack a quart into the pint pint of its slim volume. It gives a succinct but comprehensive account of Border fortifications from castles to bastles, via churches, peles and tower houses. It also manages to place these in the context of the wild and lawless Border society and the ongoing conflict between England and Scotland. The captions are excellent and informative with superb photos and drawings. As someone who knows most of the places mentioned I can vouch for its accuracy, and it is sure to whet the appetite of anyone with an interest in order history or fortifications. A highly recommended and beautiful book.

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