Berwick History

Walking around the Berwick Walls

There is nothing nicer on a sunny morning than walking around Berwick walls. They are completely intact and offer immense views of the surrounding countryside.

The Elizabethan Walls were built around 1558 and built very similar to the plans of the Lucca Walls in Italy. They were built to keep out the Scots and are virtually complete. Berwick has a very turbulent history and changed hands several times.

Scots Gate - Berwick

Start at the Scotsgate, which is an Archway over the main road which leadin to Scotland, hence its name. Climb up the steps on your left and proceed left and take time to climb Megs Mount, which takes its name from a cannon called Roaring Meg, which was once positioned there.

You are now standing 100ft above the River Tweed and the view you have of the three bridges and the coastal strip to Holy Island is considered the fines in Northumberland. Leave Megs Mount and walk down Banlkhill where you will pass the statue of Lady Jerningham then under the Tweed Berwick Pictures taken by Lawrence HassallBridge on towards the riverside and the 17th century Berwick Bridge, or as we call it the Old Bridge. This is about the fifth bridge to occupy the site and was started in 1610 and is a magnificent structure taking 24 years to build. It has 14 pillars each supporting an outlet and the seventh pillar marks the boundary between Berwick and Northumberland and at one time a gate stood there and was locked each evening.

The Old Brige - Berwick

Moving on you see the Quayside and the Chandlery, continue on and you come upon magnificent Georgian architecture represented by some of the finest houses in Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Moving on you will see the Main Guard, an early 18th century guardhouse moved to this site in 1815. Wellington Terrace is next which looks out across Saluting Battery, guarding the mouth of the River Tweed with its 13 gun emplacements, where at one time 22 four pounder cannons were mounted. The walls and batteries are much the same at present day. The cannons were taken from the walls after general peace to Edinburgh Castle, but some have been replaced. The Russian cannon situated here was taken from the Crimea and gifted to the town. Through the gun ports you can see the Pier and Lighthouse.

Shoregate - Berwick

Now walk up Kipper Hill towards Windmill Bastion, passing the Gun Magazine and the Lions House. The next point of interest is the Cow Port which is the only surviving original gate in the wall. The footpath to your right takes you to the Cow Port and Berwick Barracks, home of the Borough Museum and Art Gallery, the Regimental Museum of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers and By Beat of Drum, the history of the British Infantryman.

Walk back up the path onto the wall and head towards Brass Bastion, which is an imposing corner defence where part of the original cobbled Sentry Walkway can be seen. This ran along the whole of the Ramparts. Here is the Holy Trinity Parish Church, one of two built during the Commonwealth period of Cromwell.

View of the Town Hall from the top of Scots Gate - Berwick

Near the end of the walls pass the last Bastion, called Cumberland. Thecannon inside dates from 1700. Return to Scotsgate and you have a fine view from the wall of Marygate, the main street and the Town Hall.

Chronology of Berwick History

833
First recorded mention of Berwick in the old Chronicles.
867
The Danes are believed to have landed at Berwick.
872
Gregory, the Pictish King wintered in Berwick.
1032
A fleet of eleven warships was fitted out at Berwick by Duncan.
1098
Berwick handed over to the See of Durham by Edgar.
1174
William the Lion captured at Alnwick, after the English Army had burned Berwick and Berwick Castle was rebuilt.
1216
Alexander of Scotland absolved from excommunication at Berwick.
1247-1286
Berwick reached the height of its prosperity.
1266
King of Scotland held his birthday celebrations in the town.
1291
On 17th November the Assembly of the states of England and Scotland held in Berwick Castle when Edward 1 decided in favour of John Baliol against the claim of Robert the Bruce as heir to the Crown of Scotland.
1296
Berwick captured by Edward and the inhabitants butchered. The Red Hall, Woolmarket defended by the Flemish merchants, but to no avail as they all perished in their Hall.
1296
Edward having reduced Scotland to subjection returned to Berwick and summoned a Parliament to assemble there on 23rd August to settle the government of the Kingdom he had overrun.
1297
Sir William Wallace took the town.
1305
One of the limbs (the left arm) of William Wallace was ordered to be suspended in the Town after he had been hung, drawn and quartered.
1306
The Countess of Buchan was imprisoned in a cage on the Walls of Berwick Castle for her participation in the Coronation of King Robert the Bruce. She was released seven years later.
1314
Edward 11 fled to Berwick after his defeat at Bannockburn.
1320
The Edwardian Walls were built
1333
The Battle of Halidon Hill. Edward 111 hanged the sons of Sir Alexander Seton, Governor of Berwick in sight of the garrison.
1355
Berwick was retaken by the Scots, who however surrendered it to England.
1377
Berwick Castle taken by the Scots, who only held it for eight days.
1384
Berwick betrayed to the Scots by Earl Percy but regained by Edward.
1405
Berwick besieged and taken by Henry 1V from the Earl of Northumberland.
1459
Berwick handed over to the Scots by Henry V1
1482
Edward 1V retook Berwick.
1559
The building of the Elizabethan Walls begun.
1566
Mary Queen of Scots in Berwick.
1603
James 1 of England at Berwick.
1611-1634
Berwick Old Bridge built.
1633
Charles 1 in Berwick.
1648
Berwick taken by the Cavaliers.
1648-1652
Church of the Holy Trinity (Parish Church) built.
1650
Oliver Cromwell in Berwick on the 12th July.
1659
Great Fire in Berwick
1662
Berwick Parish Church was consecrated.
1663
Berwick suffered from the Plague.
1684
Its Charter surrendered to the King.
1689
William and Mary proclaimed at Berwick.
1717-1721
Barracks built.
1729
Petition sent to Parliament for the removal of the Main Guard.
1750-1761
Town Hall built.
1751
Shipbuilding begun.
1794
Two Companies of Volunteers raised in Berwick.
1808
Act of Parliament obtained for the building of a new Pier.
1826
Pier and Lighthouse completed after 16 years.
1847-1850
Royal Border Bridge built and opened by Queen Victoria.
1877
Tweed Dock completed.
1924
Berwick New Road Bridge across the Tweed sanctioned.
1928
The Royal Tweed Bridge was opened by HRH the Prince of Wales on 16th May
1948
On the 21st April Honorary Freedom of the Borough conferred upon the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.
1956
The Queen and Prince Philip visit Berwick on 7th July.
1959
Civic welcome to the 1st Bn.KOSB on their return from active service in Malaya.
1964
The Barracks closed as a Garrison on 31st January after 243 years.
1977
Princess Anne and Mr. Mark Phillips visited.
2001
HRH Queen Elizabeth visited in her Jubilee year.