BLOODY STORY: Author John Watson and Curlews book shop owner Emma Rowell browse through a pre-print edition of There’s Blood In The War Saddle, which will be launched on March 21
BLOODY STORY: Author John Watson and Curlews book shop owner Emma Rowell browse through a pre-print edition of There’s Blood In The War Saddle, which will be launched on March 21

PEOPLE can learn more about the notorious border reivers following the publication of a book by a dale poet.

John Watson, who has become renowned among Women’s Institutes, historical groups and other community organisations in the dale for his talks on the raiders who lived in the Scottish-English border region from the 13th to the 16th centuries, has brought his extensive knowledge together in a book called There’s Blood In The War Saddle. 

The Lartington resident has combined his knowledge of the reivers with original poetry and prose to produce the book which is illustrated by his friend Walter Parker.

It covers battles and places synonymous with the people living along the border at that time. His own interest in the border and its people dates back to the 1970s.

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He said: “My friends and I would motorcycle on weekends up to the borders and discovered a myriad of twisting roads and beautiful hills and countryside. Then in 1971 the author George McDonald Fraser published The Steel Bonnets and I thought ‘crikey, we are right in the middle of it’.

“It was the most dangerous place in Europe at that time. It was a most treacherous place to live. These characters, their tenacity, fighting skills and survival instincts have come down through the centuries to give this unique and beautiful area a legacy of science, art, industry, invention and exploration.

“These were the borderers and I feel privileged to pass on my feelings and research on the subject.”

Mr Watson will launch There’s Blood In The War Saddle during a book signing and reading event at Curlews book shop, in Market Place, Barnard Castle, on Thursday, March 21, at 7pm, before taking it to the Harwick Reivers Festival on Saturday, March 23. To attend the Curlew launch contact Emma Rowell on 01833 630302 or 01833 630455.