Johnnie Armstrong Memorial, Carlenrig, Scottish Borders

This evening, I am again focusing on the lawless Scottish Borders region during the 16th century. This was a time when the region was dominated by powerful families including Armstrongs, Maxwells, Scotts and many more who supplemented their income by raiding ¬†each other and the English to the south. These activities were known as ‘reiving’ a Scots word meaning raiding.

Johnnie Armstrong was head of the powerful Armstrong clan. He and his followers agreed to meet King James V at Carlenrig, apparently under the impression he was to be pardoned for his past activities. However, whether the king had a change of mind on the day or had always intendcd to entrap the Armstrongs may never be known but the outcome was¬†Johnnie Armstrong and his fifty followers were executed by hanging at Carlenrig on the day, in 1530, in context of an initiative to control the unruly Borders region. A driver for the King’s action may have been to reduce tension with the English authorities due to the incessant cross-border raiding by the Armstrongs and others.

Today, Carlenrig is an obscure spot which rarely features on maps.It is just south of Teviothead, about 29 miles south of Melrose on the A7. Here can be found a plaque to Johnnie Armstrong in the cemetery opposite the parish church and a stone obelisk memorial as illustrated in the image above.

This site usually features in Border Reivers and Clan Armstrong tours of the region.

Replica memorial to Johnnie Armstrong (with legible narrative) at Eskdale Hotel, Langholm, Scotland

Johnnie Amstrong Memorial at Carlenrig Cemetery, Scotland

Teviothead Parish Church, Carlenrig, Scotland

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