Atlantic Cities
Postcard

Vivid Scenes of Life Along the Scottish Border

A year from now, the Scottish government will hold a referendum on whether or not it should become independent from the United Kingdom.

If voters say "yes" to independence, a constitutional settlement would need to be put together and agreed upon with the U.K. government. That could take time, as a settlement would include solving issues of military defense, Scotland's share of the national debt, and its use of the pound.

If voters say "no," the independence movement will likely go away quietly. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond (one of the movement's biggest proponents) calls the referendum "a once-in-a-generation event."

Still 12 months away, it's hard to say exactly where Scots stand on the issue for now. Published polls are hotly contested and show varied results. 

Along the 96-mile border, where tensions between the two countries were far more violent between the 13th and 17th centuries, locals appear unenthusiastic about a more formal division. An historian in Northumberland tells Reuters that "virtually all our services come from across the border. Scottish telephone, Scottish power, Scottish post office, we have a Scottish post code, we bank in Scotland at the Bank of Scotland." Back in Scotland, a managing director at a textile mill in Hawick tells Reuters, "Everybody I know feels Scottish enough, the identity of our company is Scottish enough, it's not going to be enhanced. And we only see it as an additional cost coming."

Below, a look at life along the border between Scotland and England, where cultural differences appear more as cause for celebration than separation:

Kathleen Maltman serves a customer as she works at her snack van 'Welcome to The Borders' in a vehicle at the England - Scotland Border on the A1 road near Berwick August 21, 2013. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

Swiss tourists take photographs next to a road that marks the England - Scotland border, at a lay-by on the A1 road near Berwick August 20, 2013. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

A marker stone is seen at Carter Bar in the Scottish Borders August 22, 2013. Carter Bar is on the border between England and Scotland in the Cheviot Hills. It is also the site of the Raid of the Redeswire, a 1575 clash between English and Scots commemorated in a Border ballad. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

A couple rest in their camper van at Carter Bar in the Scottish Borders August 22, 2013. Carter Bar is on the border between England and Scotland in the Cheviot Hills. It is also the site of the Raid of the Redeswire, a 1575 clash between English and Scots commemorated in a Border ballad. (REUTERS/Toby Melville) 

England and Scotland stickers are seen as shoppers queue in a sweet shop in Berwick Upon Tweed in Northumberland August 20, 2013. (REUTERS/Toby Melville) 

Two fans watch Berwick Rangers reserves play a soccer match at their Shielfield Park stadium in Berwick, north-east England August 24, 2013. Although it is based on the English side of the border, the town's soccer team plays in the Scottish league. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

A train is reflected in the River Tweed as it crosses the Royal Border Bridge at dusk, in Berwick-Upon-Tweed in Northumberland August 22, 2013. The Royal Border Bridge opened in the mid 19th century, completing a rail link from London to Edinburgh. It is located in Berwick Upon Tweed, England's northernmost town, which has passed between English and Scottish control over a dozen times. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

Kelso riders cross a ford in the River Jed during the Flodden Border Relay in Jedburgh, southern Scotland September 5, 2013. Riders took part on horseback in relays between Border towns, carrying a flag during an event to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden, a bloody defeat of the Scottish by the English that took place in 1513, claiming thousands of lives. (REUTERS/Toby Melville) 

Keywords: England, Scotland, Borders

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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