Haydon Bridge High School


Haydon Bridge in Northumberland was the site of a famous Reiver raid in the 16th Century. We took this as the subject for our work with the children.

Elysium AD did four workshops with several classes creating a fictional retelling of the confrontation between the people of Haydon Bridge and the Reiver attackers. 

The students then went away to produce written word and art work inspired by the workshop and their own research.

Huge thanks to Anne Coulson and the staff of Haydon Bridge High School for their work.

Battle begins.

On the bridge.

Ruthless Reivers.

Destruction begins.

Especially on the farmers field.

Roaring flames.


Ready to take.

Every cattle.

In sight.

Vile sights that everyone saw.

Everyone is gone.

Run to retreat.

Suddenly everything reverses and settles back down, the town is safe.

Back in 1587  Queen Mary was executed.

Over clouds and above mountains she watches.

Ruthless Reivers preparing for the big battle.

Days and nights my troops train.

Endless travelling over the moors.

Riding closer and closer, the tension, the suspense….


Revenge is what we seek.

Evening arrives and battle commences.

I look down.

Viciously fighting our team.

Ending the horrific battle and war.

Reivers retreat from Haydon Bridge.

Sunrises as all the dead corps lay, disintegrating.

It was 1587 when everyone from Haydon Bridge heard Queen Mary had been executed for being outspoken. We knew the Reivers would attack any day now so we began to get ready for battle. We collected the food together and hid everything that was important to us and the village so the Reivers could not steal it.

The next morning comes and the Reivers also arrive and start their attack. The people of Haydon Bridge fought back and as it got brutal the Reivers retreated. That was that!

Legend says it was in 1587 the Scottish Border Reivers were furious and news spread rapidly that the queen, Queen Mary was executed for being outspoken and this left them very heart broken. Months  Haydon Bridge were hearing rumours that the Border Reivers were going to attack. The Border Reivers wanted to make their Queen proud. Bodies lay dead. Fighting for their lives. Swords swayed in every direction, suddenly the silence was so loud. Dead bodies were everywhere…. Haydon Bridge had won, defending themselves with all their strength. Peace at last, mourning the loss of their fellow friends.

The fear inside of me was like no other. The pain was unbearable knowing I would be gone. But I couldn’t. I had to prepare my team for battle, otherwise they wouldn’t win. It was time. I knew there would be no pain. It would be fast. As I walked up the plank to be beheaded, tears fell from my eyes and then I floated up to the sky

Battle time.

Oh no, somebody’s house got burnt down.

Reivers versus Haydon Bridge.

Date, in the year 1589.

Exciting to watch it was mad.

Reivers got hit.


Rabbits everywhere, it was bad.

Everywhere, arrows everywhere.

It was very scary.

Very destructive, everything is falling.

End is nearly here.

Reivers look like they have lost.

Started ages ago, finished now!

I was just sat there, staring out into the valley. The tree was hurting my back. I could not bare it any more. Just watching the village fall apart was hurting me more. The fact that I could not do anything about it as I watched the church stumbled to the ground and then my childhood home. At that moment I knew everything was gone and never coming back. All the memories, gone. I felt the pain rush through my body again. I was thinking of running away as I stood up from the tree and in the distance I could see a girl staring out a window right back at me.

Bodies scattered.

Others shattered.

Restless and scared.


Everlasting screams.




Endless torture.

Interesting people.

Viking like.

Everything is gone.


Shut out.

Border Reivers, angry and astonished.

Off with her head they shouted as she was executed.

Restless Reivers fight for their queen.

Dead bodies scattered across the ground.

Every man fighting for their life.

Ruthless Reivers on horseback attack.


Running for their lives.

Endless fighting, endless running.

In amongst the devastation.

Very angry people were waiting.

Endless torture for all the men.

Run, run, run.

Safely nestled by the side of the Tyne in the aftermath.

I was sitting in my bed staring at the roof. Then I heard a bang. Suddenly, I jumped up, looked out my window and saw people screaming, crying and running around for their kids. Curiously I opened the window and stuck my head out. Then I saw it, flames. Worried, I ran into my mum’s room to see her but she wasn’t there.

I heard something, someone, so I slowly went down stairs into the kitchen. I saw some figures, “mum” I shouted. They poured something out on the floor and ran past me. When they left the house they started a fire. I slipped trying to get up, voices running through my head, as I got out of the house intime.

Then I saw my mum. She was in the house. But it blew and exploded. I can still hear the screams and shouting of people but I felt a weird feeling that I was alone, by myself.

Now all that I can remember is that I still see her running down the stairs. I miss her but I still feel she is there.

The terrible tale of the Border Reivers.


They came greedily wanting revenge. It was 1587 when news broke out that the beloved Scottish queen, Mary, was executed by the British. This enraged the Border Reivers.


In the heart of Northumberland, home of the most notorious families, the Elliots and Armstrongs conspired to get revenge.


The night of the battlefield as reckless men came galloping and thundering across the fields raiding sheep and cattle.


Vicious fighters stormed into Haydon Bridge stealing food, drink and women. With honour Haydon Bridge fought back.


Defeated, the Reivers retreated and the people of Haydon Bridge returned to peace.