Home > Projects > Community Heritage Fund > Border Bloodshed – Dr Neil Murphy, Northumbria University

Dr. Neil Murphy, Head of History at Northumbria University, has been awarded funding to delve into Redesdale’s colourful and dangerous history.

Under the Tudors, Redesdale was at the very forefront of English history. The Scottish wars of Henry VIII and his successors placed the population of the region on the front line, and their specific skills and expertise, obtained through living in difficult upland terrain, made them experts in border warfare. While the people of Redesdale were courted by the Tudor monarchy for their expertise in warfare, they were also seen as lawless and unruly. Local families such as the Charltons were accused of engaging in widespread criminality (such as raiding animals, theft, kidnap, and blackmail) as much against their neighbours in Northumberland as against the Scots. Yet when the king’s officers came into Redesdale to arrest the leaders, the local population launched daring ambushes to rescue their kin before they could be tried and hanged.

The project celebrates the important and colourful role which Rededale played in English history. It is designed to engage audiences from both inside and outside of the region by bringing its rich history to life. It will gather the information about Redesdale under the early Tudors and make it available to the public through an interactive website. Much of this rich history remains undiscovered in archives, which are hidden away and difficult to use without specialist skills. As such, this website will provide a lucid and engaging history of Redesdale based on documents not readily available to the public. The funding will allow Dr. Murphy to visit archives in London and run a series of guided walks in Redesdale to help illuminate the landscape’s violent past.

This funding will allow me to develop a project designed to celebrate the important role which Rededale played in the history of Tudor England. It will gather information about Redesdale held in archives and make it available to the public through an interactive website, which will also include routes of circular walks, activity packs, and a wealth of colourful information bringing the region’s rich history to life. – Neil Murphy, Northumbria University