Welcome to The Borderers guide at TV Tome. BBC Scotland drama series set in the Scottish Borders in the 16th Century. These were turbulent times: raids and skirmishes across the border with England; cattle and sheep rustling; disputes settled by sword or gun. Iain Cuthbertson stars as Sir Walter Ker of Cessford (referred to throughout as 'Cessford') the Warden of Liddesdale. (A Warden was roughly the equivalent of a modern day Sheriff.) Michael Gambon co-stars as Gavin Ker, male head of the family the Kers of Slitrig, kinsfolk of Cessford.
Gavin Ker of Slitrig, the eldest son of the family, seeks a wider world, but a shattering experience lies in front of him.
Accused of murdering an Englishman when he led his men across the border in search of Agnes, Gavin must stand trial at the next Day of Truce - when the opposing Wardens meet together to settle their outstanding quarrels. Gavin can be saved if he signs a bond making him Cessford's man. But Gavin would rather lose his life than his independence, and as things are he might have to.
Religion is in turmoil and men turn to darker gods. On the Scottish border witchcraft is rife. So when a neighbour's cattle catch plague accusing fingers point and a charge is laid against Gavin's younger sister Grizel. Cessford has to try her, little knowing how hard it is to make the charge of witchcraft stick.
Gavin is visited by a friend who tries to persuade him to travel to Europe with him. But some pilgrims arrive... a religious fanatic, a girl veiled like a nun, a truculent friar. Soon Gavin is caught up in the political crossfire of the time - and exposed to a danger that in those days would have terrified everyone.
An English fugitive, Tom Styles, flees across the border to Scotland and hides. Gavin, riding by, is attacked by outlaws and Styles saves his life: in return Gavin shelters him at Slitrig. But it is a punishable offence to harbour wanted criminals from England, and soon Gavin has to choose between his own life and Styles's.
The Kers of Slitrig could be a force to be feared throughout the Border - if they only had a ruthless leader. David Scott is just such a leader and since he claims to be the real Laird of Slitrig even some of Gavin's family support him. If a bloodbath is to be avoided Gavin hasn't too long to re-assert his authority.
Cessford lies wounded at Slitrig after an assassination attempt by John Hume. To finish him off the Humes will attack - and Slitrig has run out of gunpowder. Margaret meets an old admirer, Lord Boyd. Boyd seems tempted to help Hume to the Wardenship, but equally tempted to settle for the easy life and Margaret, whom he loves. Whose side is this enigmatic figure on?
The Kers have quarrelled with the Armstrongs and today Jamie has to ride through Armstrong country. He encounters them at a waterfall and one of the Armstrongs dies. Did Jamie kill him? Not even Gavin is sure of his brother's innocence - yet the outcome of the trial could well affect Cessford's position as Warden.
A wandering English mercenary called Rudge is taken on by Gavin to help with the harvest. Cessford calls - Gavin must make a raid into England to rescue an important Scottish spy. With him he takes Rudge - a heavy man who proves an even heavier liability.
The Warden's cattle have been raided by the Scotts of Branxholm, who boast of it openly. Cessford arrests them, and by doing so brings down the wrath of the Lord Lieutenant, the Earl of Moray. It's not just Cessford's Wardenship that's at stake now. Moray has plans for bringing peace to the March that are resented by all. One person especially dislikes them - Agnes Ker.
The Telfers, friends of the Kers, are evicted for debt and dispossessed of their lands. Disdaining Gavin's charity, old Fergus Telfer, a devout manwho always yearned to be a priest, finds himself starving in the Debatable Land with his grandson Wat. Desperately he seeks a religious justification for doing the only thing they can do to survive - steal!
Mario Vecchi, a young Italian physician, tries to save the life of Gavin's friend Andrew Johnstone. The patient dies and the Armstrongs demand Vecchi's life as a murderer. Gavin seeks protection for Vecchi from the law, but will he get it? Or will he have to admit that on the Border violence can only be met by violence?
Brought from England to marry a Scot she detests, Lady Helen escapes from her escort and is held to ransom by some outlaws. Sent to rescue her, Gavin falls in love with her and she with him. But to wed would only invite vengeance from her fiance's family and hers. Gavin's mother is appalled to realize that, despite this, they look like going ahead with their marriage.