Visiting the Historic Scottish Border Lands: Ruins, Ride-outs, Rhymers and Reivers with Dr. Jenny Litster

Visiting the Historic Scottish Border Lands: Ruins, Ride-outs, Rhymers and Reivers with Dr. Jenny Litster


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The bewitching landscape of the Scottish Borders was an inspiration to Walter Scott, James Hogg, and John Buchan. Join historian–and Borders lass–Dr. Jenny Litster for a guide to the area’s many attractions.

The rolling hills, fertile valleys, and ruined abbeys of the Scottish Borders are less familiar than the famed Highland shielings or misty Isles, but there is much to be discovered in this accessible Scottish Lowland region. Stretching from the eastern coastal village of St. Abbs Head in Berwickshire, through the rural central mill towns of Galashiels, Innerleithen, and Peebles, to the grandeur of St Mary’s Loch in the west, the Border country is steeped in legend and Scottish history, from the rise of William Wallace to the death of James IV at the battlefield of Flodden.

Sir Walter Scott, the best-selling author of Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, Waverley, and others, settled at Abbotsford House in the Borders, drawn to the region by its ballads and folk tales, by the rich and often turbulent history of the “Debatable Land”, and the natural beauty of the countryside crossed by the majestic River Tweed.

In this seminar, we’ll roam the ancient and magical landscape, visiting the medieval abbeys at Jedburgh, Dryburgh, Kelso, and Melrose, where the Eildon Hills were split in three by the wizard Michael Scott; the great houses of Traquair (the oldest inhabited house in Scotland), Mellerstain, and Floors Castle (where Greystoke: Legend of Tarzan was filmed) and the lonely keeps and castles of Darnick, Smailhome, and Neidpath.

We’ll talk about the ancient custom of the Common Ridings, equestrian festivals that remember a time when local boundaries were patrolled to combat the Border Reivers (bandits), and the role of the wool and cashmere mills in shaping the local identity. We’ll also spend some time finding out more about what the region has to offer today’s traveler, especially now it is once again connected to Edinburgh by the Borders Railway. From salmon fishing and golf to mountain biking and hill walking, you’ll come away feeling there’s something for everyone in this underexplored area.

Led by an expert on Scottish culture and history, Dr. Jenny Litster, this interactive seminar will explore the Border Lands of Scotland. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the history and folklore of this magical region of Scotland and all of the wonders to explore on a visit here.

Born and raised in the Scottish Borders, Jenny moved to Edinburgh in the late 1980s to study History and English Literature. She later completed a Ph.D. on the Scottish context of Canadian author L.M. Montgomery at the University of Edinburgh, where she also taught American History. Jenny worked in adult education research and policy at the Institute of Education, London for over a decade, living in Edinburgh and traveling regularly to Europe. Her main interests lie in Scottish literature, culture, and folklore and in children’s books. She has two daughters.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 10 reviews
70%
(7)
20%
(2)
0%
(0)
10%
(1)
0%
(0)
V
Vivienne (San Diego, US)
Very useful seminar

If you want to go to the Scottish Border Lands, or know nothing about them and are simply curious, this is a great seminar. I knew nothing except that it was beautiful. Dr. Lister's presentation made me want to go as soon as I can! And her seminar helped me craft an itinerary.

M
Mary (Hopkins, US)

Excellent presentation on the beautiful and historic Scottish Borders country by Dr. Jenny Litster. The session was loaded with well-designed images and information. The presentation was engaging and focused. I look forward to more Scottish tours by Jenny.

J
John Ehmer (Santa Ynez, US)
Informative and thorough.

I am interested in the Border Lands because many of my ancestors came from there via Ulster (Scotch-Irish). I wish that she had talked a little bit about that aspect of history but that wasn't advertised in the description. I certainly know more about the area now and was impressed with its beauty.

S
Sherilyn Titus (Richmond, US)

My husband & I have been to Scotland 3 times. In 2016 we traveled to Dumfries and the Borders mostly because of my need to see where my Irving family came from in Dumfries. We stayed at Bonshaw Tower and learned about the area. In the talk today she discussed this mostly having to do with the Borders. I saw the Irving shield in the entrance hall at Abbotsford when we visited. We have loved the ruins of the monasteries at Dryburgh, Melrose, and Jedburgh staying at Jedburgh Abbey Hotel twice when we took friends there in 2018. More travelers should learn of this area. Her talk reminded us of a wonderful trip.

A
Annie Peterson (Lake Stevens, US)
The Intriguing Border Lands of Scotland

I have been to Scotland once and am planning another trip next spring to the West Coast islands but knew nothing of the Border Lands. It was fascinating and Dr. Litster is a spellbinding storyteller. Her presentation was organized and very well done. I'll look forward to her seminar on Anne of Green Gables and hope to take part in her Yorkshire Dales when it is scheduled.

Customer Reviews

Based on 10 reviews
70%
(7)
20%
(2)
0%
(0)
10%
(1)
0%
(0)
V
Vivienne (San Diego, US)
Very useful seminar

If you want to go to the Scottish Border Lands, or know nothing about them and are simply curious, this is a great seminar. I knew nothing except that it was beautiful. Dr. Lister's presentation made me want to go as soon as I can! And her seminar helped me craft an itinerary.

M
Mary (Hopkins, US)

Excellent presentation on the beautiful and historic Scottish Borders country by Dr. Jenny Litster. The session was loaded with well-designed images and information. The presentation was engaging and focused. I look forward to more Scottish tours by Jenny.

J
John Ehmer (Santa Ynez, US)
Informative and thorough.

I am interested in the Border Lands because many of my ancestors came from there via Ulster (Scotch-Irish). I wish that she had talked a little bit about that aspect of history but that wasn't advertised in the description. I certainly know more about the area now and was impressed with its beauty.

S
Sherilyn Titus (Richmond, US)

My husband & I have been to Scotland 3 times. In 2016 we traveled to Dumfries and the Borders mostly because of my need to see where my Irving family came from in Dumfries. We stayed at Bonshaw Tower and learned about the area. In the talk today she discussed this mostly having to do with the Borders. I saw the Irving shield in the entrance hall at Abbotsford when we visited. We have loved the ruins of the monasteries at Dryburgh, Melrose, and Jedburgh staying at Jedburgh Abbey Hotel twice when we took friends there in 2018. More travelers should learn of this area. Her talk reminded us of a wonderful trip.

A
Annie Peterson (Lake Stevens, US)
The Intriguing Border Lands of Scotland

I have been to Scotland once and am planning another trip next spring to the West Coast islands but knew nothing of the Border Lands. It was fascinating and Dr. Litster is a spellbinding storyteller. Her presentation was organized and very well done. I'll look forward to her seminar on Anne of Green Gables and hope to take part in her Yorkshire Dales when it is scheduled.