The Debatable Land: The Lost World Between Scotland and England

The Debatable Land: The Lost World Between Scotland and England

by Graham Robb


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Best-selling author Graham Robb finds that the 2,000-year-old map of Ptolemy unlocks a central mystery of British history.

Two years ago, Graham Robb moved to a lonely house on the very edge of England, near the banks of a river that once marked the southern boundary of the legendary Debatable Land. The oldest detectable territorial division in Great Britain, the Debatable Land served as a buffer between Scotland and England. It was once the bloodiest region in the country, fought over by Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and James V. After most of its population was slaughtered or deported, it became the last part of Great Britain to be brought under the control of the state. Today, it has vanished from the map and its boundaries are matters of myth and generational memories.

Under the spell of a powerful curiosity, Robb began a journey—on foot, by bicycle, and into the past—that would uncover lost towns and roads, and unlock more than one discovery of major historical significance. These personal and scholarly adventures reveal a tale that spans Roman, Medieval, and present-day Britain.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, The Debatable Land takes us from a time when neither England nor Scotland existed to the present day, when contemporary nationalism and political turmoil threaten to unsettle the cross-border community once more. 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393285321
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 06/12/2018
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 540,172
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Bestselling author Graham Robb is a former Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. He has won the Whitbread Biography Prize and the Heinemann Award for Victor Hugo, as well as the Ondaatje Prize and Duff Cooper Prize for The Discovery of France. His book Parisians was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

List of Figures xi

A Guide to Pronunciation xiii

Part 1

1 Hidden Places 3

2 Outpost 6

3 Panic Button 16

4 The True and Ancient Border 21

5 'The Sewer of Abandoned Men' 27

6 Mouldywarp 38

7 Beachcombing 43

Part 2

8 Blind Roads 51

9 Harrowed 61

10 'Loveable Custumis' 67

11 Accelerated Transhumance 76

12 Skurrlywarble 82

13 Exploratores 89

14 Windy Edge 97

15 'In Tymis Bigane' 106

Part 3

16 'Stob and Staik' 115

17 'Rube, Burne, Spoyll, Slaye, Murder annd Destrewe' 125

18 The Final Partition 133

19 Hector of ye Harlawe 140

20 Scrope 150

21 Tarras Moss 160

22 'A Factious and Naughty People' 168

23 Silence 181

Part 4

24 Graticules 187

25 The Kingdom of Selgovia 198

26 'Arthur' 205

27 The Great Caledonian Invasion 216

28 Polling Stations 226

29 No Man's Land 232

30 The River 237

Appendix 241

Chronology 265

Notes 271

Works Cited 299

General Index 317

Geographical Index 325

Acknowledgements 333

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