Full text: Grenzen und Grenzregionen

conservative northern kingdom40. As a rule the eyres were held only once every 
ten years, so the sheriffs and the county courts over which they presided (or the 
equivalents in the palatinate bishopric of Durham) must have had plenty of work to 
It is surely a remarkable testimony to the easygoing pragmatism of Anglo-Scottish 
relations in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries that the lordship or 'liberty' of 
Tynedale, stretching some 42 miles southward into England from the Border to 
Cross Fell, was in the hands of the kings of Scotland, who held it with 
considerable privileges42. In their own realm these kings were in the habit of 
appointing leading noblemen to serve as justiciars, whether or not they possessed 
any special expertise in legal matters43. Whenever the English crown commanded 
its itinerant justices (trained professionals) to hold a general eyre through the 
northern counties of Westmorland, Cumberland and Northumberland the king of 
Scots commissioned a small panel of four nobles - of the very same type as those 
who were justiciars or sheriffs in Scotland - to hold an eyre for Tynedale which 
carefully followed English procedure and administered English law44. 
For the settlement of cross-Border claims, disputes and more serious quarrels there 
had evolved, probably over a considerable period, a set of rules and procedures 
known as the Leges Marchiarum, the Laws of the Marches. In the earliest written 
form to have survived these Laws date from 1249, and may have been prompted by 
particularly difficult boundary disputes dating to 1245 and 124845. But in general 
the Marcher Laws look very much older than the mid thirteenth century. Dr. 
George Neilson, who wrote a useful translation and commentary as long ago as 
1902 (although they were not published till 1971), thought that the Laws were 
40 Stenton, D.M., English Justice between the Norman Conquest and the Great Charter, 1066-1215 
(American Philosophical Society and George Allen and Unwin, London, 1965), 71-76 and elsewhere; 
van Caenegem, R. The Birth of the English Common Law (Cambridge, 1973), 19-22; Poole, A.L., 
Domesday Book to Magna Carta (Oxford, 1951), 399-400. 
4* Three Early Assize Rolls for the County of Northumberland, ed. Page, W. (Durham, Surtees Society 
88, 1891); Hartshome, C.H., Feudal and Military Antiquities of Northumberland and the Scottish 
Borders (Royal Archaeological Institute of Great Britain, 1858), pp. lxviii, "Iter of Wark"; 
Northumberland Pleas 1198-1272, ed. Hamilton Thompson, A. (Newcastle upon Tyne Records 
Committee, 1922). 
42 Northumberland County History, XV, 155ff; Page, W., "Some remarks on the Northumbrian 
Palatinates and Regalities", in: Archaeologia 51 (1888), 143-55. 
43 Barrow, Kingdom of the Scots, 121-5, 133-6. 
44 E.g., Hartshome, Feudal... Antiquities of Northumberland, p. IX; Calendar of Documents preserved 
in Scotland, ed. Bain, II, no. 168 (p. 50). Three of the justiciars for Tynedale named in 1279, Thomas 
Randolph, Simon Fraser and Hugh of Pearsby, had served as sheriffs of Berwick, Roxburgh and Peebles. 
43 Summerson, H., "The early development of the Laws of the Anglo-Scottish Marches, 1249-1448", in: 
Gordon, W.M. (ed.), Legal History in the Making (1991), 29-42; Neilson, G., "The March Laws", ed. 
Rae, T.I., Stair Society Miscellany I (Edinburgh, The Stair Society, 26, 1971), 11-77. 

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