Scottish Borders

The Scottish Borders (Scots: The Mairches, lit. "The Marches"; Scottish Gaelic: Crìochan na h-Alba) is one of 32 council areas of Scotland.[1] It borders the City of Edinburgh, Dumfries and Galloway, East Lothian, Midlothian, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian and, to the south-west, south and east, the English counties of Cumbria and Northumberland. The administrative centre of the area is Newtown St Boswells.

Scottish Borders
The Mairches
Crìochan na h-Alba

Coordinates: 55°21′36″N 2°29′24″W
Admin HQNewtown St Boswells
  BodyScottish Borders Council
  ControlCon + Ind (council NOC)
  Total1,827 sq mi (4,732 km2)
Area rankRanked 6th
 (mid-2018 est.)
  RankRanked 18th
  Density63/sq mi (24/km2)
ONS codeS12000026
ISO 3166 codeGB-SCB

The term Scottish Borders is also used to designate the areas of southern Scotland and northern England that bound the Anglo-Scottish border.


The Scottish Borders are in the eastern part of the Southern Uplands.[2]

The region is hilly and largely rural, with the River Tweed flowing west to east through it. In the east of the region, the area that borders the River Tweed is flat and is known as 'The Merse'.[3] The Tweed and its tributaries drain the entire region with the river flowing into the North Sea at Berwick-upon-Tweed, and forming the border with England for the last twenty miles or so of its length.

The term Central Borders refers to the area in which the majority of the main towns of Galashiels, Selkirk, Hawick, Jedburgh, Earlston, Kelso, Newtown St. Boswells, St Boswells, Peebles, Melrose and Tweedbank are located.

Two of Scotland's 40 national scenic areas (defined so as to identify areas of exceptional scenery and to ensure their protection from inappropriate development)[4] lie within the region:[5]

Largest towns



The term Borders also has a wider meaning, referring to all of the counties adjoining the English border, also including Dumfriesshire and Kirkcudbrightshire – as well as Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland in England.

Roxburghshire and Berwickshire historically bore the brunt of the conflicts with England, both during declared wars such as the Wars of Scottish Independence, and armed raids which took place in the times of the Border Reivers. Thus, across the region are to be seen the ruins of many castles, abbeys and even towns.

The council area was created in 1975, by merging the historic counties of Berwickshire, Peeblesshire, Roxburghshire, and Selkirkshire and part of Midlothian, as a two-tier region with the districts of Berwickshire, Ettrick and Lauderdale, Roxburgh, and Tweeddale within it. In 1996 the region became a unitary authority area and the districts were wound up. The region was created with the name Borders. Following the election of a shadow area council in 1995 the name was changed to Scottish Borders with effect from 1996.[9]

Although there is evidence of some Scottish Gaelic in the origins of place names such as Innerleithen ("confluence of the Leithen"), Kilbucho and Longformacus, which contain identifiably Goidelic rather than Brythonic Celtic elements and are an indication of at least a Gaelic-speaking elite in the area, the main languages in the area since the 5th century appear to have been Brythonic (in the west) and Old English (in the east), the latter of which developed into its modern forms of English and Scots.


There are two British Parliamentary constituencies in the Borders. Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk covers most of the region and is represented by John Lamont of the Conservatives. The western Tweeddale area is included in the Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale constituency and is represented by David Mundell of the Conservatives.

At Scottish Parliament level, there are also two seats. The eastern constituency is Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, which is currently represented by Conservative Rachael Hamilton. The western constituency is Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale and is represented by SNP Christine Grahame.

Following the 2012 local elections, the council administration was a coalition of Independents, Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats. Prior to the election a coalition of Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents ruled. The Conservatives were the biggest party on the council with 10 seats, the Liberal Democrats had six. The SNP had nine seats and the Independents had seven. Two councillors form the Borders Party.

Following the 2017 local elections, the council is now a coalition of Independents and Conservatives. The Conservatives became the largest party on the council with 15, an increase of 5.

Political party Seats
Conservative 15
Scottish National Party 9
Independent 8
Liberal Democrats 2


At the Census held on 27 March 2011, the population of the region was 114,000 (provisional total), an increase of 6.78% from the 106,764 enumerated at the previous (2001) Census.


The region had until September 2015 no working railway stations. Although the area was well connected to the Victorian railway system, the branch lines that supplied it were closed in the decades following the Second World War. A bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament to extend the Waverley Line, which aimed to re-introduce a commuter service from Edinburgh to Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank. This section of the route re-opened on 6 September 2015, under the Borders Railway branding. The other railway route running through the region is the East Coast Main Line, with Edinburgh Waverley, Dunbar and Berwick being the nearest stations on that line, all of which are outwith the Borders. Since 2014 there has been discussion[10] of re-opening the station at Reston which is within the region and would serve Eyemouth. To the west, Carlisle, Carstairs and Lockerbie are the nearest stations on the West Coast Main Line.

The area is served by buses which connect the main population centres. Express bus services link the main towns with rail stations at Edinburgh and Carlisle.

The region also has no commercial airports; the nearest are Edinburgh and Newcastle, both of which are international airports.

The main roads to and from the region are:

Towns and villages

Places of interest

See also

Notes and references

  1. Foundation, Internet Memory. "[Archived Content] UK Government Web Archive – The National Archives". Archived from the original on 5 February 2008.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. "Accommodation – Dumfries and Galloway – Ayrshire and Arran – Scottish Borders – Southern South West Scotland – Hotels – Bed and Breakfasts – Self Catering Holiday Cottages".
  3. p. 47 ofBanks, F. R. (Francis Richard) (1951), Scottish Border Country, Batsford, retrieved 20 October 2016
  4. "National Scenic Areas". Scottish Natural Heritage. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  5. "National Scenic Areas – Maps". SNH. 20 December 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  6. "Eildon and Leaderfoot National Scenic Area Map" (PDF). Scottish Natural Heritage. 20 December 2010. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  7. "Upper Tweeddale NSA Map" (PDF). Scottish Natural Heritage. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  9. Notice of change of name of local authority area, Edinburgh Gazette, 26 May 1995
  10. Rinaldi, Giancarlo (18 March 2016). "Borders Railway future goals drawn up". BBC News.
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