Not to be confused with Berwick-upon-Tweed (borough).

461 sq. mi. (ranked 11th)[1]
  Created Middle Ages
  Abolished 1974
  Succeeded by Borders Region
Status County

County Council

  HQ Berwick-upon-Tweed (Historical)
Greenlaw (1596 - 1890)
Duns (Modern)

Berwickshire is a lieutenancy area and historic county in the Scottish Borders. It takes its name from Berwick-upon-Tweed, which was part of Scotland at the time of the county's formation, but became part of England in 1482.

Formerly the county was often called "the Merse", from Old English mǣres "border". From 1596 to 1890 the county town was Greenlaw.[2] However, this was changed to Duns by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889, the act which established the system of county councils in Scotland.

The county borders Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire to the west, East Lothian and Midlothian to the north, the North Sea to the east and a portion of the Anglo-Scottish border with Northumberland to the south.

Local government

Prior to 1975 Berwickshire contained four burghs and three districts:

The districts of:

Berwickshire County Council was abolished by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 and the county was instead governed by the Borders Regional Council.[3]

The region was divided into four districts, one of which was named Berwickshire District; however its area was not congruent with the county's, with the burgh of Lauder and most of the county's West District included in the Ettrick and Lauderdale District and the parish of Nenthorn included in the Roxburgh District. Beriwckshire District Council remained based in Duns, the old county town.

The system of regions and districts was in turn abolished in 1996 in favour of unitary councils. Berwickshire is now governed by the unitary Scottish Borders Council.

Coat of arms

The county council of Berwickshire was formed in 1890 by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889, and applied for a grant of arms the same year. The grant, by Lord Lyon King of Arms was made on the 10th of October.

The coat of arms shows a bear chained to a wych elm tree, a pun on the county's name: bear + wych = Berwick.[4] In heraldry, this is known as a canting arms.

Upon the abolition of Berwickshire County Council, the arms were regranted to Berwickshire District Council.[5] When the district council was abolished the arms reverted to the Crown.

The coat of arms is featured on Berwickshire High School badge

Civil parishes

BERWICKSHIRE Civil Parish map. The Imperial gazetteer of Scotland. Vol.I. by Rev. John Marius Wilson Boundaries outlined in red.*page/n259/mode/1up

Refer to the List of civil parishes in Scotland

Towns and villages

(See Civil parish list above for villages in those parishes) Other places in Berwickshire include :


The Berwickshire News is published weekly, and numerous organisations and groups have Berwickshire in their titles (i.e.: the Berwickshire Housing Association, Berwickshire Sports Council).

The Berwickshire Civic Society is campaigned for road signs at the entrances to the county to have notices added saying 'You are now entering the ancient county of Berwickshire', and they hold an annual Keep Berwickshire Tidy Campaign, judged each April.

The High school west of Duns is named Berwickshire High School, it has been open since 1896. Together with Eyemouth High School they run a Rugby team under the name of Berwickshire schools.

The Berwickshire Coastal Path runs from Cockburnspath to Berwick-upon-Tweed (28 miles).


  1. "Old County of Berwickshire - Gazetteer for Scotland".
  2. "Berwick-upon-Tweed - Braidwood | A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (pp. 124-151)". 2003-06-22. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  3. Moffat, Alistair (2007), The Borders : a history of the Borders from earliest times, Edinburgh Birlinn, ISBN 978-1-84158-466-9 page 551
  4. R.M. Urquhart (1973). Scottish Burgh and County Heraldry. London.
  5. R.M. Urquhart (1979). Scottish Civic Heraldry. London.
  6. Prior to 1891 Oldhamstocks was partly in Berwickshire and had a detached portion at Butterdean of 1,417 acres. The detached portion was transferred to Coldingham, while the main part of the parish is now wholly within East Lothian. See Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, by Francis Groome, 2nd Edition, 1896. Article on Oldhamstocks

See also

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Coordinates: 55°45′N 2°30′W / 55.750°N 2.500°W / 55.750; -2.500

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