BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

18 June 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
Legacies - Borders

BBC Homepage
 UK Index
Your stories
 Site Info
 BBC History
 Where I Live

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

Immigration and Emigration
David I and the impact of the Norman Conquest

Seal of Earl David
Seal of Earl David, later King David I
Seal of Earl David, later King David I
© Scran
David first acquired Scottish land in 1107 when he became Earl of Cumberland and gained control of much of southern Scotland. He had spent much of his early life in England and Normandy with the Royal Court. There he absorbed Norman culture, so it was natural that when he returned to Scotland he introduced many principles of their society and government.

The Normans were once credited with introducing the Feudal system of landownership to Britain. The use of the term Feudal is now seen as problematic, since land ownership prior to the Norman conquest had many features often thought of as characteristically feudal. However, it can be said that the Normans formalised land ownership, creating a bureaucracy and introducing written title deeds to denote ownership. David brought this structure to Scotland, and granted land to nobles who had been part of the conquest and who understood the administration of such a system. In doing so he created a new ruling elite in Scotland. Oliphant, de Bourneville, de Graham, Fitzalan, Comyn, de Bailleul (Balliol), and de Brus (Bruce) are amongst the names of the early landlords and are mostly of French or Flemish origin. In later centuries several of the members of families became associated with the struggle for Scottish independence, including most famously, Robert the Bruce.

The impact that these settlers had on the Borders is shown, as in other areas, in the language, law, customs, and place and family names of the region. Several place names such as Sorrowfield, probably named after the de Sourules family, and Flemington in Berwick, show traces of the families who once lived there. In Scotland, the new settlers had a particular impact, emphasising the divisions between the north of Scotland and the south, particularly through language. In the south, a language developed that was similar in form to Old English, called Scots. This was mixture of the language and dialects of existing inhabitants, particularly the Angles. The languages of the incomers also began to have a gradual impact on Scots. Scots contrasted sharply with Gaelic, which remained in use in the north. The Normans remained influential across two centuries, and Scots became the language of court.

Pages: [ 1, 2, 3 ] Next

Your comments

Print this page
Look back into the past using the Legacies' archives. Find nearly 200 tales from around the country in our collection.

Read more >
Internet Links
David I and the Church
The Norman Conquest
Melrose Abbey
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Web sites.
Norwich textiles
Related Stories
Impact of the Norman conquest on South West Wales.
Immigration of the Jutes to Kent
Elizabethan strangers - how the Low Countries immigrants blended into life in Norwich

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy