IS IT NOT strange that there’s a North Berwick and a Berwick-upon-Tweed, but that neither are in Berwickshire?

Historically, county names derive from their principal town – for example, the old name for East Lothian was Haddingtonshire.

Although Berwick was once the county town of Berwickshire, the last of many border altercations left it in England.

Berwick was founded when Northumbria included our own county.

It became Scots after Malcolm’s victory at Carham in 1018 and prospered while the Normans were preoccupied with consolidating their grip on England.

By 1153, Berwick boasted walls, a mint, a castle, and a hospital. Its constables included several Lauders of the Bass. Their writ ran south of the Tweed to include Ancroft, Kyloe, Norham, Belford, Elwick and Tweedmouth, as well as present-day Berwickshire.

At a time when the sea was the highway for commerce in heavy goods, South Berwick (as it was known during its Scottish heyday) became the richest city in the land, thriving on trade with the Low Counties and Hanseatic Ports in timber, wool and produce from the Merse.

English kings coveted its strategic location. While the English were embroiled elsewhere, Berwick blossomed. At other times, Berwick changed hands 13 times until, in 1482, it fell to Richard III. Elizabeth I secured it with massive fortifications, which survive intact.

With the Union, most of its hinterland stayed in Scotland. For five centuries, this made scant difference beyond legal issues. However, re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament created disparities – in free personal care, prescriptions, tuition fees, etc.

Resentment at this in Berwick itself was compounded when Berwick District Council was abolished and the town became a remote appendage to Northumberland.

The northward bulge of the border between the Cheviots and the sea remains a defensive throwback. This modern anomaly of Berwick and the disparity between its residents and those in its hinterland could be resolved by a plebiscite among the 26,000 residents to decide if the border should be shifted south from Lamberton Toll to around Lindisfarne, returning the town and southern villages to Berwickshire.

Satisfactory as this might be to locals, Westminster is likely to block such a move. This shift of border would reassert Scottish jurisdiction over the same 6,000 square miles of North Sea that Tony Blair allocated to England on the quiet 20 years ago. That seabed is rich – richer than Berwick ever was – and too rich to ever let go.