On the mainland five miles north of Holy Island, is the mouth of the River Tweed and the most historic town of Berwick Upon Tweed. The most northerly town in England, perhaps no other town in North East England has had a more eventful history than Berwick. There is no doubt that Berwick upon Tweed can claim the distinction of being the Border Town, as it has changed hands between England and Scotland thirteen times. Its history is inextricably tied up with the struggle for the Anglo Scottish frontier. An old legend is said to explain the fascinating history of Berwick;
“During the temptation while the Evil one was showing to the Holy one all the kingdoms of the earth he kept Berwick hidden beneath his thumb, wishing to reserve it as his own little nook”
Berwick with an English name meaning `Corn Farm’ began as a small settlement in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria, in which it remained until the Battle of Carham of 1018 when it was taken by the Scots. From then on Berwick became a hotly disputed territory. In 1174 Berwick was retaken by England in a ransom following the failure of a raid into Northumberland by the Scottish king, William the Lion.
The town returned to the northern side of the border in the reign of Richard I (1189-1199), who sold it to obtain money for the Crusades. At the beginning of the following century Berwick returned once more to England, after Richard’s brother, King John sacked the town, but Berwick continued to change hands until 1482 when the town finally became part of England within which it still remains.