There are nearly 6000 acres in the parish: of which more than 2600 are arable, and more than 3000 remain in permanent pasture. In addition there is a common of 200 acres, called Yetholm Common, on which the inhabitants of Kirk Yetholm have the privilege of cutting turf and grazing their cattle: it is a wild moorish piece of ground, upon the borders, claimed I believe, by both kingdoms.
Yetholm common, a wild moor of considerable extent, on debateable land between Scotland and England, is claimed by villagers, and yielded to their possession for the cutting of their turf and the grazing of their cattle.
A wild moor, called Yetholm Common, lying to the east, and comprising an area of several hundred acres, is claimed by the town's-people as an ultranational tract, neither in Scotland nor England, and used by them for the cutting turf and grazing cattle.
Yethom Common is situated just south west of Kirk Yetholm and was originally associated with the Gypsy encampment with which the village is associated. The common is well up in the hills and the position is marked by two large stones, known locally as the Stob-Stanes. Both villages in Yetholm (Town & Kirk) also feature large Greens.
Although 24 English knights considered the frontier fixed west from Berwick as far as White Law in 1246, its line was not agreed by the Scottish contingent. Some of the place names along the English Line such as 'Tres Karras' and 'Hoperiglawe' cannot be identified today.
It appears that the early surveyors used the hilltops and watershed (as the water falleth) to define its course through the Cheviot Hills. One such survey took place in 1522 and is described by Logan Mack in some detail. Again many of the placenames are different from those used today.
It was clear that in several places:
.... the towns of Scotland bounding upon England have eared, ploughed and sown much of all the ground that was wont to be their pastures, and pasture all their sheep and cattle in great numbers within the realm of England.
W Ford Robertson in his book Walks from Wooler (1926) provides the following information (p.143-144) about the line of the England-Scotland Border in this location said to be from a cutting in the Westminster Gazette.
... a story of how borders are made. I heard it told by an old Scottish shepherd and afterwards found the original version by Mr George Bolam. He was inspecting boundary fences in the Cheviots and found a grave discrepency between one of them and the ordnance map. The shepherd explained:-
"Oh, aye, sir, yon's the lie o' the auld stones, nae doot, but it didna suit for the tae set o' yowes to hae a' the meat [good grass], an' the tither a' the bield [shelter]; sae Edam o' Helter Burn [Adam Calder of Halter Burn] an' me made a pack an' shiftit a wee; we gie a bit here an' tak a bit there, ye see, sae naebody's the waur on't, an' the sheep's muckle the better; forby ye'll obsairve the grand grip yon stretching-posts hae gotton."
The following information was provided by Ned Pegler who got in touch with me recently having found more information about Yetholm Common in his local library. His comment appears below the blog article on the Stob Stanes. We believe that the author of the unpublished work, Yetholm: Materials for a History (2007) died a few years ago. His Chapter 2 provides relevant information on the interesting history of Yetholm Common.
I remember looking for historical material of this sort at the time of writing this blog but failed to find anything. I would like to thank both Ned and Mr P. D. Wood whose interests in this area clearly follow my own but whose historical research abilities are definitely more advanced. I am pleased to be able to reproduce the historical research of P. D. Wood for a larger audience here.