During much of the late medieval period the border between England
and Scotland was an ill-defined, fluid, and contentious frontier territory,
disputed through fighting and cattle-raiding. The geographical location,
monumental form, and genealogical ancestry of the Wall made it a
powerful signifier of the division of the English and the Scots. Many of
the medieval strongholds, including fortified churches, were made of
stone from the Roman Wall and forts.
The Solway Estuary was a particularly treacherous zone with regular
raids across the shifting sands. Here, little now remains of the Roman
defences, but in their place stand sturdy churches and castles, protection
from marauding northerners who stole cattle– and frequently the church
bells! These heavy items clearly did not make for a fast get away and
stories abound of bells lost in the tidal waters.
The city of Carlisle was a key site on the route north and a crossing of
the River Eden. The Castle, on the site of the Roman fort, witnessed
centuries of siege and rebellion. Further east, the Priory at Lanercost,
founded in 1169 and built of stones from the nearby Wall, was favoured
by Edward I during campaigns to subdue the Scots. It was frequently
ransacked during the 14th century.