It is clear that Dere Street remained a recognised feature after the Roman withdrawal and continued in use as a highway throughout the medieval era.
Most frequently mentioned was the stretch across the high moors near Chew Green, known as Gamelspath (which incorporates an Old Scandinavian personal name). The earliest documentary reference occurs in 1249 when 'Kenmylispeth' was a recognised place of trial for the inhabitants of Redesdale and Coquetdale (Nicholson 1747, cited by Bosanquet - BosanPap IV Roman Roads, Dere street typescript: 'Bat ridisdale and Cokdale sall ansuere at Kenmylispeth'). Kenylpethfeld was one of the waste grounds mentioned in an Umfraville inquisition of 1380 (Cal IPM XV, 177 no. 434).
Thereafter it figures continuously in documentary sources relating to the Anglo-Scottish conflict of the 15th and 16th centuries (assembled by Bosanquet - BosanPap IV, Roman Roads in N'land), the border crossing being one of the designated meeting places between the wardens of the English and Scottish Middle Marches. Thus 'Gallespeth' was the launching point for a major English raid into the valleys of the Kale Water and Teviotdale in 1513 (Hodgson 1827, 159-161), whilst the Scots undoubtedly used that route in a similar fashion for their raids into England. The frequent occurence of Gamelspath in the sources was of course directly related to its role in border conflict and mediation.
References to other stretches of Dere Street are naturally more difficult to find. However, the border watch schedule incorporated within Dudley and Dacre's 1552 Border Survey shows the inhabitants of Birdhope, Rochester, Horsley and Stobbs were responsible for maintaining a night watch on the "street of Acamside Moor" (cf. Hodgson 1827, 71). This is presumably a reference to the moorland stretch of Dere Street north of the fort.
Akenside was one of the upland pasture grounds in upper Redesdale and figures in the documentary sources from 1363 onwards, when Eleanor, widow of Robert de Umfraville was found to have held 20 acres of woodland there (INQ. P.M. 1363; Cal IPM I, 414 no.971 - 1495; 1604 Survey, 83, 104; 1618 Rental: 335; cf. Hodgson 1827: 82, 110). It does not feature on modern OS maps but should probably be identified with the hillsides between the Rede, Cottonshope Burn, Sills Burn and northward to the Rede-Coquet watershed.
Picture : Dere Street At Rochester