Raid of the Redeswire

The Raid of the Redeswire, also known as the Redeswire Fray,[3] was a border skirmish between England and Scotland on 7 July 1575 which took place at Carter Bar, the Cheviot pass which enters Redesdale. The skirmish was between (on the English side) the English Warden of the Middle Marches, Sir John Forster, with Sir George Heron, Keeper of Redesdale, Keeper of Liddesdale and Scottish Warden and (on the Scottish side) Sir John Carmichael, the Lord Warden of the Marches, with George Douglas of Bonjedworth. It was the last major battle between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland.[4]

Raid of the Redeswire
Part of Anglo-Scottish Wars
Date7 July 1575
Result Scottish victory
Royal Arms of the Kingdom of Scotland.svg Kingdom of Scotland Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg Kingdom of England
Commanders and leaders
Sir John Carmichael Sir John Forster (POW)
Unknown Unknown
Casualties and losses
2 dead, several wounded[1] 25 dead, unknown wounded[2]

Opposing forcesEdit

After the Scottish defeat at Pinkie in 1547, no Anglo-Scottish battle had occurred until this. Sir John Carmichael met Sir John Forster at a hill called Red Swire ("Redeswire" in Scottish English) in Carter Bar for a regularly scheduled "Truce Day" wherein the two discussed matters that came up between their two regions. Both men were accompanied by a number of armed guards.[2][5]

The battleEdit

One of the topics discussed during this meeting was an Englishman who had stolen some items from a Scotsman and who was supposedly in Forster's custody. Carmichael demanded that the man be delivered to Scotland for justice, but Forster replied the thief had taken "leg-bail" (escaped from custody) and could not be produced.[5] This turned into an argument that involved personal insults from both parties, until members of the English contingent could no longer hold their temper and attacked, killing two men and wounding several others. The Scots were forced to retreat, but during their flight they met up with another group from Jedburgh, who were late to the meeting.[2] This gave the Scots an advantage and encouraged them to engage with the English. They began to break the English lines and in time, the English were routed: the Scots proved victorious, and drove the English off. George Heron was killed, along with his brother, John, and 23 other Englishmen. Forster and several other nobles were captured,[2][6] and the Scots conducted an impromptu raid, taking 300 cattle from local farms.[5]


The prisoners were brought to James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, who was the regent for King James VI. This soon became embarrassing for the Scots, as the prisoners, who were being held at Dalkeith Castle, had likely been taken for their ransom value, although Douglas stated that it was to keep them from being killed in the heat of battle.[5] He wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth describing the events,[1] but she was outraged and sent William Killigrew to demand immediate satisfaction from the Earl of Morton.

Douglas was directed to meet with George Hastings, 4th Earl of Huntingdon, who was the lieutenant of the northern counties, to work out the details, and the two men were able to come to an amicable solution, as Douglas was wont to not anger Elizabeth, and she wanted to avoid a war.[5][6] Forster and the others had been treated with kindness and were released with gifts and an apology for being held.[5] Carmichael was delivered to York as a prisoner for trial, but was acquitted as the English court found that Forster had engaged in an unprovoked attack.[2]


The Redeswire Stone

The story of the skirmish was turned into a Border ballad[7] edited and published by Walter Scott.[8]

Also, on the Cheviot Hills, near the place where the battle was fought a monument known as the Redeswire Stone was built in commemoration of the battle. It reads, "On this ridge, June 7th, 1575 was fought one of the last border raids, known as The Raid of the Redeswire". The battle is commemorated by the Jedburgh Reidswire common riding each year; this ride is the longest of the festival and is undertaken on two horses at a fast pace.

George MacDonald Fraser considered that its importance has been exaggerated. [9]


  1. ^ a b Burton, John Hill (1901). The History of Scotland from Agricola's Invasion to the Extinction of the Last Jacobite Insurrection. 5. W. Blackwood and Sons. pp. 152–154. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Ridpath, G. (1776). The border-history of England and Scotland : deduced from the earliest times to the union of the two crowns. pp. 650–652.
  3. ^ Popham, Peter (20 July 2014). "Photographer Colin McPherson walked the Scottish border to meet the people pondering independence – and their view of England". The Independent. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  4. ^ "The Raid of the Reidswire". Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border education site. University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Stewart, Derek James (11 July 2017). The Armstrongs. American Academic Press. pp. 98–99. ISBN 9781631818790. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b Hodgkin, Thomas (1908). The Wardens of the Northern Marches: The Creighton Memorial Lecture Delivered on October 4, 1907. University of London. p. 29. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  7. ^ Wood, Rev. James, ed. (1907). The Nuttall Encyclopaedia, Being a Concise and Comprehensive Dictionary of General Knowledge. Retrieved 28 May 2018. Redeswire, Raid of the, a famous Border fight took place in July 1575 at the Cheviot pass which enters Redesdale; through the timely arrival of the men of Jedburgh the Scots proved victorious; is the subject of a Border ballad.
  8. ^ "Walter Scott Educational Website — The Raid of the Reidswire". Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  9. ^ Fraser, George Macdonald The Steel Bonnets

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 55°21′14″N 2°28′41″W / 55.354°N 2.478°W / 55.354; -2.478