known as the "Sulwath," a name signifying the "muddy" (sol=mud), in contrast
to the "sandy," wath or ford and later transferred, in the form "Solway," to the
firth as a whole. ¹ The English chronicler Knighton tells how, in July 1335, Edward
III. made a plundering raid upon Scotland from Carlisle, crossing the vadum Sulwath
on entry and returning by the vadum Anandiæ. ² In the 14th century, in the days
of Caerlaverock's great siege, the firth was known as the "Irish Sea," and it is still
so named by Bishop Leslie in the late 16th century. ³ From the latter half of the
12th century the Esk had been the recognised boundary of Scotland. At some date
in the first quarter of the 14th century the men of Cumberland and Westmorland,
about whose services on the Border there had been dispute, ⁴ represent to Edward
III. that "the service due in war to his ancestors" on their part was "that, on his
march to Scotland, they should meet him at the Rerecross on Stanemoor and go in
his vanguard as far as `la Marche de Solewathe,`"taking the rearguard on the return. ⁵
But the lower Esk was not suffered to remain much longer as the frontier line.
So accessible was the land on its northern side as a mere prolongation of the level to
the south, and so intermingled and homogenous the population in consequence, that
the district between the Esk and the little river Sark became a "debateable land"
between the two countries, and its inhabitants even were familiarly referred to in
the 16th century as the "Baitablers." This feature had a profound influence on
the history of the West March. The fact that there was no clear definition of juris-
dictions made it an ideal resort for the more lawless spirits of the Border, who, while
the wardens jealously disputed, went their own way. "For neither I will suffer
the warden of Scotland to answer for it," Lord Dacre informs the English Privy
Council in 1550, "because I will not affirm it to be Scotland, nor will they, on the
contrary, consent that it shall be England." ⁶
The usual provision for the Debateable Land in truces between England and
Scotland was that it should not be occupied on behalf of either kingdom, "`neither
with stub, stake, nor otherwise, but with bit of mouth for pasturing of cattle`from
sunrise to sunset, according to old custom." ⁷ The Prior of Canonbie, however, was
allowed to enclose and build upon his section, about four square miles in the area. The
trading relations of the district with Carlisle formed the basis of the English claim
to Canonbie as being really part of England. But in the lengthy diplomatic corre-
spondence over the question (cf. p. xxxvi.) the Scots would always furnish a counter-
plea to each argument, and in logic no decision was possible.
The unsatisfactory condition of the district, however, forced on the question
of its delimitation, and in 1552 Commissioners from the two countries apportioned
the doubtful territory. After all, it appears the local borderers had preferences in
the matter, which preferences were taken as a guide to division. The inhabitants
of the eastern part had their inclinations set towards Scotland, those of the western
towards England; and it was settled so. Thus the Canonbie part became Scottish,
while England had the barony of Kirkandrews, once property of the Rossedals of the

1 Fordum refers to fluvium Esk, quod dicitur Scotiswath sive Sulwath (Chronica Gentis Scotorum,
lib. ii., cap. ii.). Cf. p. xxx.
2 Chronicon (R.S.), i. p. 472.
3 See also Neilson's Annals of the Solway, passim; Trans. Dumf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc., 1895-6, p. 156.
4 Bain's Calendar, ii. No. 1134.
5 Ibid., iii. No. 716: la Rerecroiz sus Estaynmor.
6 Letter in Nicolson and Burn's History of Westmorland. etc., i. p. lxxv.
7 Treaty of Berwick, Dec. 1528, Letters and Papers For. and Dom., Henry VIII., vol. iv. part ii.
No. 5030; Leges Marchiarum (1549), Nicolson, pp. 80-81.

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