Scotland: The Boernicians

The Boernicians, who were a mixture of Scottish Picts, Angles, and Vikings, were one of the ancient clans of the Scottish-English borderlands. Considered to be the ancient founding peoples of the north, the Boernicians inhabited the tract of rugged territory that stretches from Carlisle in the west to Berwick in the east. In the 4th century, Scotland was composed of five different kingdoms, which were each home to a different race: the Gaels, Vikings, Picts, Britons, and Angles all held land, each had their own realm.

Despite the border that separated the Scottish families of the north from the English families of the south, many of the clans remained united, by territory and interest, across the border and most felt little allegiance to either Scotland or England. There were about 1000 clans divided across the border.

The Border Clans consisted of the Strathclyde Britons on the Western Border and the Boernicians on the Eastern Border Marches. The history of the Boernician peoples reached a crucial turning point in the 13th century. The dramatic escalation of Clan warfare brought chiefs from both the English and the Scottish sides of the border to meet at Carlisle in 1246. At this meeting the chiefs cooperated in drafting a new and unique set of laws for the entire borderland territory. For example, it was a greater offense to refuse to help a neighbor recover property or possessions that it was to steal them in the first place. Additionally, for refusal of assistance, a person could be hanged without trial. These laws were unlike any prevailing in Britain, Scotland, Ireland or Europe.

Nevertheless, by 1587 numerous Border Clans had been condemned by an Act of Scottish Parliament for lawlessness. After the unification of the crowns of Scotland and England in 1603, James VI of Scotland attempted to break up the "unruly border clans". The border clans were banished to England, Scotland, Ireland and the Colonies.

See Also


  1. ^ Swyrich, Archive materials