Early Medieval (12th/13th Centuries)


Edgar, King of Scotland issues a charter which proclaims the granting of the lands of Prenderguest to Swain, priest of the ancient parish of Fishwick, who in turn renounced his title in favour of the Benedictine monks of Coldingham Priory. The lands of Prenderguest included the village of Ayton just north of the castle, together with another small village known as Nether Ayton (Lower Ayton), which stood to the east of the present churchyard on the south side of the Eye Water and near to the Roman road, known as the Devils Causeway, which extended from Newcastle to St Abbs head. It is possible that a third small hamlet known as Hornford or Horford was included in the charter: this hamlet was located near the present Jubilee Bridge over the Eye Water south west of Ayton Village, where the Horn Burn joins the Eye Water. It should be noted that in the maps associated with Timothy Ponts studies of Scotland 1610 Ayton and Nether Ayton are detailed yet Hornford is not.


A Norman Noble family by the name of De Vesci, came to the village of Ayton, and built a castle or defensive tower for the protection of the family and vassals. The De Vescis eventually changed their name to de Eitun and gained considerable power in the area (the Aytons of Inchdarney in Fife are supposed to be lineal descendants).


Helio signs a charter reaffirming the lands pertaining to Prenderguest.


King Alexander III, during the early part of his reign introduced wealthy Flemings (Flemish) merchants to the south east of Scotland, including Berwick. They exported wool and imported silks from their market places known as Red Halls. During this period Berwick was developed into an emporium of commerce based on free trade.


Henry, a knight, of Prenderguest, subscribed to a charter regarding the lands of the area.


King Alexander III, on the night of 18th March, falls to his death over the cliffs close to Queensferry. His only direct heir was his granddaughter, the Maid of Norway. She died on her way to Scotland whose regency council, as a consequence, appealed to Edward I of England to judge who should be Scotland’s next King. The choice was between Robert Bruce and John Balliol. Balliols claim in law was undoubtedly the stronger and Edward I chose him believing that with diplomacy Scotland was now added to his list of titles.


The administrative district known as the Scottish East March, with its own warden, was formed. The Parish of Ayton was located in the Scottish East March. Today we know the Scottish East March as The Eastern Borders or East Berwickshire.


King John Balliol reached the limit of his flexibility with Edward I and raided parts of northern England. Edward I was quick to retaliate and on 30th March overran Berwick-upon-tweed in a day, brushing aside the towns defences with ease. (At this time Berwick was a major port and one of Scotlands largest towns with a wealthy and established merchant class grown rich on trade.) Edward I’s army sytematically sacked the town and up to 7 000 of its merchants and citizens were slaughtered. To prevent further death Sir William Douglas surrendered Berwick castle.

On the 23rd of April Edward despatched John de Warenne with a mounted contingent to secure Dunbar castle. Near the castle at Spottismuir, de Warenne was confronted by King John’s army. The English commander did not fight on the defensive and pushed his men towards the Spott Burn.

The Scots, assuming the English were about to flee, charged. De Warenne army drove the Scots back killing hundreds of foot soldiers. Following their defeats at Berwick and Dunbar the Scottish resistance crumbled culminating in the humiliation of King John at Montrose where his coat of arms was torn from him. The sacred Stone of Destiny was pillaged from Scone Palace, along with the Black Rood of St. Margaret.

1298, July

The Battle of Falkirk . Prior to the battle Edward Longshanks’ army of 2,500 horse and 12,000 foot moved up the great north road, with an English fleet in close support. Edward had difficulties feeding his men so they pillaged as they went.

Utilising the expertise of their archers, Edward’s army went on to win the Battle of Falkirk defeating Scotland’s guardian William Wallace and his army, which suffered considerable losses. The English army, still hungry after victory, retired south to England laying waste to the Scottish Borders as they went.