A ‘LOST’ Borders community devastated during a brutal religious and dynastic war between England and Scotland in the 16th century has been brought back to digital life.

Research by Scottish Mediaevalist experts is helping to build up a picture of everyday life in the rural Borders community of the Rule Valley.

The area is made up of 500 acres of unspoilt upland set in the heart of the Teviot Valley’s Special Landscape Area in the Borders.

Much of the land was devastated in 1545 during the ‘Rough Wooing’.

The research builds on work already carried out by Archaeology Scotland with help from local schoolchildren and volunteers.

As little is known about life in the valley pre mid 16th century, Stirling University’s Professor Richard Oram and Tom Turpie were tasked with delving into the dispersed archival records of the development and everyday life of this part of the rural Borders.

And based on the evidence unearthed a remarkable digital reconstruction of the now-ruined Bedrule Castle has been produced.

The research has provided a greater understanding of the area’s economy, society and culture, and fills a critical gap in the interpretation of the mainly archaeological evidence already collected as part of the Twelve Towers of Rule initiative, project managed by the Campaign for a Scottish Borders National Park (CSBNP).

Although the archaeological remains in the valley and its uplands – from pre-Roman up to early medieval times – reveal a long history of human settlement, there is scant understanding of these settlement’s chronology, patterns and hierarchies.

Even the history of this district during the centuries of Anglian Northumbrian domination after c.600 AD is a blank, despite it lying so close to both the early monastic centre at Old Melrose and the minster church at Jedburgh, where an Augustinian priory was founded by Bishop John of Glasgow.

Professor Oram said: "The valley of the Rule Water is a clearly-defined territorial block containing all of the environmental elements needed to support an agricultural population.

“It is likely to have formed the estate of a man of rank from as far back as the Late Antique Little Ice Age, right through the sixth century plague pandemic (and resulting decimation of the population), to the build up of human settlement again in the 11th century – as  glimpsed in the shadowy figures who emerge in a fragmentary parchment record soon after 1100.”

In the post-1500 period documentary record becomes more abundant, with letters and reports as well as charters of landholding helping researchers to understand the local structures of settlement and lordship.

The research also examines how the later 18th and 19th century accounts have influenced more modern local traditions and wider popular perceptions of a profoundly militarised landscape stretching from Spittal-on-Rule south to Wauchope and the head of the Rule Valley.

Professor Jane Bower, CSBNP chair, added: "This review of the Rulewater Valley’s archival records complements recent archaeological findings with help, from local schoolchildren and volunteers, that provide a vital piece of the jigsaw needed to build up a picture of this late medieval Borders community.

“We are very grateful to have had the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland come on board alongside the local community and so many of our other supporters."