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Scottish Borders
The Mairches
Crìochan na h-Alba
Scottish Borders in Scotland.svg
Official logo of Scottish BordersThe MairchesCrìochan na h-Alba
Sovereign state  United Kingdom
Country  Scotland
Lieutenancy areas Berwickshire, Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale, Tweeddale
Admin HQ Newtown St Boswells
 • Body Scottish Borders Council
 • Total 1,827 sq mi (4,732 km2)
Area rank Ranked 6th
 • Total 115,270
 • Rank Ranked 18th
 • Density 63.091/sq mi (24.360/km2)
ONS code S12000026
ISO 3166 code GB-SCB
Largest town Galashiels
Topo map Scottish Borders, Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian
Topographic map of Scottish Borders and Lothian

The Scottish Borders (Scots: the Mairches, lit. 'the Marches'; Scottish Gaelic: Crìochan na h-Alba) is one of 32 council areas of Scotland. It borders the City of Edinburgh, Dumfries and Galloway, East Lothian, Midlothian, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian and, to the south-west, south and east, the English counties of Cumbria and Northumberland. The administrative centre of the area is Newtown St Boswells.

The term Scottish Borders, or normally just "the Borders", is also used to designate the areas of southern Scotland and northern England that bound the Anglo-Scottish border.


The Scottish Borders are in the eastern part of the Southern Uplands.

The region is hilly and largely rural, with the River Tweed flowing west to east through it. In the east of the region, the area that borders the River Tweed is flat and is known as 'The Merse'. The Tweed and its tributaries drain the entire region with the river flowing into the North Sea at Berwick-upon-Tweed, and forming the border with England for the last twenty miles or so of its length.

The term Central Borders refers to the area in which the majority of the main towns of Galashiels, Selkirk, Hawick, Jedburgh, Earlston, Kelso, Newtown St. Boswells, St Boswells, Peebles, Melrose and Tweedbank are located.

Largest towns


  • Galashiels: 14,994
  • Hawick: 14,294
  • Peebles: 8,376
  • Selkirk: 5,784
  • Kelso: 5,639
  • Jedburgh: 4,030
  • Eyemouth: 3,546
  • Innerleithen: 3,031
  • Duns: 2,753
  • Melrose: 2,307
  • Coldstream: 1,946
  • Earlston: 1,779


Historically, the term Borders has a wider meaning, referring to all of the burghs adjoining the English border, also including Dumfriesshire and Kirkcudbrightshire — as well as Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland in England.

Roxburghshire and Berwickshire historically bore the brunt of the conflicts with England, both during declared wars such as the Wars of Scottish Independence, and armed raids which took place in the times of the Border Reivers. Thus, across the region are to be seen the ruins of many castles, abbeys and even towns.

The council area was created in 1975, by merging the former counties of Berwickshire, Peeblesshire, Roxburghshire, and Selkirkshire and part of Midlothian, as a two-tier region with the districts of Berwickshire, Ettrick and Lauderdale, Roxburgh, and Tweeddale within it. In 1996 the region became a unitary authority area and the districts were wound up. The region was created with the name Borders. Following the election of a shadow area council in 1995 the name was changed to Scottish Borders with effect from 1996.

Although there is evidence of some Scottish Gaelic in the origins of place names such as Innerleithen ("confluence of the Leithen"), Kilbucho and Longformacus, which contain identifiably Goidelic rather than Brythonic Celtic elements, the language has tended to be weak to non-existent in most parts of the region. Since the 5th century, there has been evidence of two main languages in the area: Brythonic (in the west) and Old English (in the east), the latter of which developed into its modern forms of English and Scots.


At the Census held on 27 March 2011, the population of the region was 114,000 (provisional total), an increase of 6.78% from the 106,764 enumerated at the previous (2001) Census.


Until September 2015, the region had no working railway stations. Although the area was well connected to the Victorian railway system, the branch lines that supplied it were closed in the decades following the Second World War. A bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament to extend the Waverley Line, which aimed to re-introduce a commuter service from Edinburgh to Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank. This section of the route re-opened on 6 September 2015, under the Borders Railway branding. The other railway route running through the region is the East Coast Main Line, with Edinburgh Waverley, Dunbar and Berwick being the nearest stations on that line, all of which are outwith the Borders. Since 2014 there has been discussion of re-opening the station at Reston which is within the region and would serve Eyemouth. To the west, Carlisle, Carstairs and Lockerbie are the nearest stations on the West Coast Main Line.

The area is served by buses which connect the main population centres. Express bus services link the main towns with rail stations at Edinburgh and Carlisle.

The region also has no commercial airports; the nearest are Edinburgh and Newcastle, both of which are international airports.

The main roads to and from the region are:

Towns and villages

Scottish Borders Council Regional Headquarters
Part of the Scottish Borders Council offices at Newtown St. Boswells
  • Abbey St. Bathans, Allanton, Ancrum, Ashkirk
  • Broughton, Burnmouth
  • Cardrona, Chirnside, Clovenfords, Cockburnspath, Coldingham, Coldstream
  • Denholm, Dryburgh, Duns
  • Earlston, Edrom, Eddleston, Ettrick, Ettrickbridge, Eyemouth
  • Foulden
  • Galashiels, Grantshouse, Greenlaw
  • Hawick, Heriot, Hutton
  • Innerleithen
  • Jedburgh
  • Kelso, Kirk Yetholm
  • Lauder, Lilliesleaf, Longformacus
  • Melrose, Morebattle
  • Newcastleton, Newstead, Newtown St Boswells
  • Peebles, Preston, Paxton
  • Reston, Roxburgh
  • Selkirk, St. Abbs, St Boswells, Stow, Stichill, Swinton
  • Teviothead, Town Yetholm, Traquair, Tweedbank, Tweedsmuir
  • Walkerburn, West Linton, Whitsome
  • Yair

Places of interest

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