Although the Border between Scotland and England existed as a "tangible" entity, the extent North and South in which the Reivers operated did not have a "solid" limit. They were not adverse to raiding outside these limits and raids could be carried out deep into opposing territory. This map at right, however, shows the geographical area from which the Reivers were drawn.
This map shows the centres of modern-day population in the area. There is a lot of empty space on this map. The towns are few and far between, for the size of the area. There are large expanses of open territory with scattered villages spread through the landscape.
Overlaying a relief map on top of the map at left will show the reason for this low population density. Although not as mountainous as the Highlands, this area, the Southern Uplands, is still anything but flat.
This is a land of hills (called Riggs), open moorland (called Muirs in Scotland and Fells in England) with valleys in-between often filled with marshes (Mosses). Indeed, a later name for the 17th Century outlaws who operated in the Border Country was 'the Moss-Trooper'. The hills are cut by water courses, big and small. This area (especially the west of the region) has one of the highest levels of rainfall in Britain. The valleys cut by these watercourses provide passes through the hills and even today the main roads are forced to follow the river valleys.
The rivers and their valleys give the districts their names and even today, in my own area, Nithsdale and Annandale are the official names for the council boundaries. These names are redolent with the aura of the Reiver. Liddesdale and Tynedale. Teviotdale and Redesdale. These names are inextricably bound to the Reivers. To understand, for example, the feud between the Maxwells of Nithsdale and the Johnstones of Annandale, it is useful to know of the location of these valleys. Two other 'non-dale' areas are also important: The Merse in modern day Berwickshire and The Bewcastle Waste in
This is what it looks like "on the ground". Mile after mile of Muirs, Riggs and Mosses, Burns and Becks (Scots and Northern English respectively for streams), Lochans and Tarns (small lakes) and Sky. Lots of sky. Lots of sky for rain to fall from, with winds to blow it. The rain here falls horizontally. This is the land of the Reiver. Hard men in hard country.