Donation and Conquest: The Formation of Lothian and the Origins of the Anglo-Scottish Border

Neil McGuigan


Various ‘donation’ accounts of the twelfth century attempted to explain Scottish rule of ‘Lothian’ as the outcome of grants from English rulers to Scottish kings. Until relatively recently historians of both Scotland and England tended to accept these accounts. However, ‘Lothian’ was a politically sensitive topic in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the value of these accounts for an earlier period is low. There is a variety of evidence of better value, and although the guidance of strictly contemporary sources is very poor prior to the later eleventh century, continuous Scottish rule south of the Forth cannot be traced prior to the reign of Máel Coluim III (r. 1058–1093), and in the case of some areas David his son (r. 1113/24–1153). It is suggested that the emergence of ‘Lothian’ as a jurisdiction is a response to the political changes of that era, an important development in its own right but also a critical intermediate development for the emergence of the familiar Anglo-Scottish border.


Anglo-Scottish; Bamburgh; Cumbria; Lothian; Strathclyde

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