Lesson #195: The Reiver Trail

I always like when I discover that something I love is more clever than I first thought.

Today’s word is “to reive” which is a Middle Scots word meaning to steal. Incidentally, it is also where we get the word bereaved.

The reivers were the Scottish border clans who were proponents of Scottish independence and tended to launch raids on both sides of the border. They were essentially lawless…enemies of England, probably Scotland and pretty much everyone not in their clan. I am a descendant of the Armstrong clan — though in fairness, you have to go back to my great-grandmother before you get to the Armstrong branch of my family.*

Anyway today’s actual lesson is that there is, in the old reiver country of Scotland, the Reiver Trail. This has now been put onto my list of things to see. I’m always down for a little bit of revolutionary violence. And a little bit of learning about the history of my family way, way back when. My grandfather is an excellent source of information, but I imagine that the museums whose focus is such things are even better.

Now, back to my first statement in this post. Joss Whedon’s Firefly bogeymen are called “reavers” — fighters living on the edge of civilization (also eating people, but poetic license is acceptable when setting a (criminally underrated by the network) TV show in space). I suspect I have figured out why. I have always liked him because he’s clever.

*If you want to read more about the border reivers, here’s where you should go to read up on them. I recommend it; it’s a pretty cool bit of history.

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