29 January 2018

New Book: The Debatable Land: The Lost World between Scotland and England

Reviews are appearing for The Debatable Land by Graham Robb, due for official publication in the UK on 8 February, June in North America.

Andrew Martin in The Guardian writes that "Robb, like a conjuror, gradually shows us the Debatable Land as something else. His exploration of its history is punctuated by some terrific nature writing."

My Reid ancestry is documented back to the area where the surnames Armstrong, Crosier, Elliot, Graham, Little, Nixon and Turnbull associated with the Border Reivers are also common.

Here's the publisher's blurb.

The Debatable Land was an independent territory which used to exist between Scotland and England. At the height of its notoriety, it was the bloodiest region in Great Britain, fought over by Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and James V. After the Union of the Crowns, most of its population was slaughtered or deported and it became the last part of the country to be brought under the control of the state. Today, its history has been forgotten or ignored.

When Graham Robb moved to a lonely house on the very edge of England, he discovered that the river which almost surrounded his new home had once marked the Debatable Land’s southern boundary. Under the powerful spell of curiosity, Robb began a journey – on foot, by bicycle and into the past – that would uncover lost towns and roads, reveal the truth about this maligned patch of land and result in more than one discovery of major historical significance.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, The Debatable Land takes us from a time when neither England nor Scotland could be imagined to the present day, when contemporary nationalism and political turmoil threaten to unsettle the cross-border community once more. Writing with his customary charm, wit and literary grace, Graham Robb proves the Debatable Land to be a crucial, missing piece in the puzzle of British history.


Judy Thamas said...

John, I want to thank you for this information. My ancestry also goes back to the Border Reivers as well.

Anonymous said...


I am Douglas Young, the historian for the Clan Young society and author of the Youngs of Scotland. If the Youngs of East Teviotdale are mentioned I would like to make sure that the information is correct and possibly add more information to your records. I am in the process of rewriting my book for a 4th edition. If you would like some of my information or help, I would be happy to help. Contact me at clanyoung@hotmail.com.