From the medieval period onwards, rural settlements often depended on a local corn mill for flour. On a small scale, of course, individuals could always grind grain in hand-operated querns, although some landowners prohibited these so as to increase usage of their mills and the associated fees.

The Cheviot streams and rivers offered good sites for watermills, and these were often re-used, medieval sites still being used in the nineteenth century. Mill remains may consist of building platforms by a river, and leats that diverted water to a mill pond or the wheel. Sometimes the mills were small – just farm mills that serviced a local community. These would often have been powered by water from a pond filled by a nearby stream, with operations stopping when the pond was empty. In such cases, there may be no surviving remains at all, even the pond having been filled in.

Although mills were used for many purposes other than grinding grain, there are few instances of this along the Border Roads. The medieval fulling mill near Barrowburn on the Coquet is one, while early OS maps show the occasional sawmill on farms north of the border.

Comments are closed