These lands were finally divided between the English and Scottish Crowns by an agreement arbitrated by the French Ambassador. The physical border constructed came to be known as the "Scots' Dike", the "March Dike" or more recently the 'Scotsdike plantation'. The terminal points of the dike were marked by square stones bearing the royal arms of England and Scotland, however these markers have disappeared, possibly having been broken up for building nearby cottages. Spaced along the centre of the bank are a number of small unmarked boundary stones of uncertain date, some of which have fallen.
In Scotland the Maxwells, Johnstons and Scotts secured the Scottish West March to Gretna and Langholm, and in England the region was controlled from Carlisle. The Esk basin at Arthuret was a marshy bogland which was difficult to police, with the Scottish jurisdiction having difficulty policing their side from Gretna to Canonbie. The Debateable Land arose because the Graemes, Armstrongs, Elliots and Bells were too powerful, and the Wardens largely left them alone. These four families raided equally in both England and Scotland, claiming allegiance to neither country; it actually suited both Governments to have such a "buffer" zone, so the district became a sort of no-mans land, where neither country could or would enforce their jurisdiction.
Eventually the general lawlessness spilled over and both Wardens demanded that the Debateable Land be eradicated. So in 1552 the French ambassador was appointed to finalise the Border line, together with Lord Wharton (of the Battle of Solway Moss fame) and Sir Thomas Chaloner nominated and appointed from England; Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig and Richard Maitland of Lethington likewise nominated and appointed from Scotland. The Commissioners agreed to a compromise demarcation line suggested by the French Ambassador, and issued a final declaration that the borderline would run from the Sark to a point on Esk, opposite the house of Fergus Greme; a cross pattee at each end and styled 'this is the least and fynal lyne of the particion concluded xxiiij Septembris 1552.'
The various sources state that the terminal stones were square stones bearing the royal arms of England and Scotland, however the Commissioners stated that .....a cross pattee at each end and styled 'this is the least and fynal lyne of the particion concluded xxiiij Septembris 1552.' A cross pattée is a type of cross that has arms which are narrow at the centre, and broader at the perimeter. The name comes from the fact that the shape of each arm of the cross was thought to resemble a paw (French patte). There are several variants of the cross pattée, however it is not known whether these were ever actually made for installation at the dike's terminal points. What fate befell the stones that were made is not recorded. The 19th-century OS maps mark a number of boundary stones which are very unlikely to be contemporary with the terminal stones.
General Roy's Military Survey of Scotland undertaken from 1747 - 1752, clearly marks the 'Scots Dyke' by that name for the first time, shown as a set of parallel lines running from the Sark to the Esk.
The name 'Scots' Dike' was in use by Roy's time, that is the mid 18th-century, but previously 'March Dike' seems to have been favoured. It is not clear why the name Scots' stuck as the Scots might just as well have called it the 'English Dyke'; interestingly there has been an 'Englishtown farm' marked since at least Roy's time.
|A Roan in Scots is a tangle of brushwood or thorns and a 'Rig' is a section of a ploughed field. Roamyrigg seems a particularly accurate description of this site. '|
William Crawford's map of 1804 shows a dwelling called Scots dyke and another called Crossdyke which is no longer marked as such by the 1920s. Thomas Moule's map of 1830 shows a 'Dykestown' which is not indicated elsewhere.
The 1901 OS marks a dwelling named 'Roamyrigg' at the Sark end of the dike, lying within part of what had been woodland with a boundary marker nearby (now fallen). This dwelling is not shown on the 1952 OS or at any later date.
The dike is only traceable within the Scots Dike Plantation, consisting of a bank, with slight ditches on either side, which varies in width from 5.8 m at the west end to 3.3 m at the east end, standing to a maximum height of 0.8 m. The E and W ends cannot be traced, and in places the ditches have silted up while elsewhere they have been re-cut.
In June 1999 English Heritage field investigators visited as part of a National survey pilot project. They describe the monument as lying at the centre of a belt of woodland, comprising spruce plantation to the north of the dike and deciduous woodland to its south. Parts of the plantation had been felled recently, but the dense vegetation rendered detailed survey impossible and investigation was limited to surface examination of the dike. The remains of the linear earthwork, between NY 3346 7396 and NY 3850 7325, consisted mainly of flat-topped bank flanked by a ditch on either side. The form and preservation of these features varied considerably along the length of the dike and it was concluded that little of the monument survived in its original form, however its course is preserved in later boundaries and drainage ditches.
|A Craw in Scots is a rook, carrion or hooded crow. A 'Knowe' is a knoll or low hill. Crawknowe is therefore the 'Hill of the Crow.'|
Long sections of the ditches, especially the northern ditch, have been re-cut to provide drainage for the conifer plantation, although in places the modern drainage appears to have been cut through the centre of the dike. Elsewhere, for example at NY 3490 7385, the feature have been almost plough-levelled, the ditches having disappeared and the bank surviving as little more than a rise in the ground. Between NY 3544 7375 and NY 3570 7370, where the Glenzier Beck crosses the course of the dike, there are no traces of the earthwork; whether it has simply not survived or whether the dyke was ever constructed across the slack was not apparent. At a number of points along the length of the dike - most notably at approximately NY 34457390 and NY 36357355 - there is a disjointure in the earthwork which is suggestive of a shift in the line of the original boundary, perhaps due to later land use. At the extreme western end of the dike, between approximately NY 3346 7396 and NY 3390 7392, a second, much slighter bank and ditch lies to the south of the main earthwork but may be nothing more than later drainage. The course of the dike between the western end of Scotsdike Plantation and the River Sark could not be traced on the ground but it was thought that it followed the extant field boundary to the south of Craw's Knowe farm.
In Scotland a dike is a stone wall, but in England a dyke is a ditch.
The Battle of Solway Moss took place in the Debatable land near Gretna on 24 November 1542. It was described as a rout in which the Scots lost and shortly after James V of Scotland died, although he had not been present at the battle in person.