Border Country: The Story of Britain's Lost Middleland

Series 1 - Episode 2

Radio Times
Review by:
Emma Sturgess

As Rory Stewart MP rides with Marine commandos in freezing conditions off Northumberland, he conjures the spirit of the Vikings, whose eighth-century raids brought the powerhouse kingdoms of Britain to their knees. From the Norsemen to Edward I, the area that now forms northern England and southern Scotland (he calls it the Middleland) has been subject to so many surges of violence, power struggles and periods of brutal lawlessness that it’s hard to keep up.

Stewart, pointedly dynamic as he clambers over rocky terrain and mounts the staircases of Peel towers in the manner of a reiver on a midnight raid, seems passionate about his subject. But of course, the nature of the border between Scotland and England could soon be altered – and even though the history of these beautiful lands is good stuff, it feels like the build-up to Stewart’s feelings on the possible reinstatement of the “harsh, artificial” border line.

About this programme

2/2. Part two of two. Rory Stewart reveals how a thousand years after the Romans left, Britain split once again near the line of Hadrian's Wall into the kingdoms of England and Scotland. The historian examines how the borderlands became a zone of anarchy and violence.

Cast and crew


Rory Stewart


Jon Eastman
Executive Producer
Chris Granlund
Jon Eastman
Series Producer
Emma Whitlock