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Dilly Arts is proud to present Beyond the Borders, a creative “Arts in Prisons” project that explores the history of the Border Reivers in Hexham Gaol through the eyes of present-day prisoners. Beyond the Borders is a permanent digital installation at Hexham Gaol, which features three hand held, digital Time Windows, that look through the prison walls and travel back through time. Each Time Window reveals the personal histories of former inmates, captured and held in Hexham Gaol over three hundred years ago.

Go to Learn and take part in an online, interactive course to learn more about the Border Reivers, You can also download an education pack, designed for children aged 4 years to 12 years.

Beyond the Borders at Hexham Gaol

Prisoners from three North East prisons, HMP Frankland, HMP Durham and HMPYOI Low Newton have drawn from their own unique experiences inside a present – day prison and craft fictional stories that reveal the lives, experiences and thoughts of people from the time of the Border Reivers.

Creative writer, Sheree Mack and historian and Border Reiver expert, John Saddler, supported participants to reach out beyond their walls and across the centuries to forge a connection with three, imagined prisoners of Hexham Gaol, Armstrong, Kerr and Elliot, family names that can be found in the region to this day. Inspired by surviving records and materials within Hexham Gaol, the three stories reveal the often brutal Reiver society, the border laws and hierarchical system of justice, the harsh reality of life as a prisoner in Hexham Gaol, the blood feuds, rooted in family loyalty and retribution and the duty of Reiver women, as they fight and fall on the front line and remain loyal to their marriage allegiances.

Each unique story has been animated using a unique style by Arcus Studios, to reflect the distinct mood and personality of each character and their experiences. The authentic designs of weapons, clothing and scenery create a rich visual portrayal of the heritage of the Border Reiver era. Inmates Armstrong, Kerr and Elliot tell us their story through Time Windows, created by Attaya Projects. Using Augmented Reality technology, the “windows” blend creative writing, digital content with live video and audio in real time to transport the visitor into another time to watch each story unfold on the screen.

Beyond the Borders is a unique collaboration of creative skills brought together by Dilly Arts to explore the past of the Gaol at a particular point in time, through the experiences of present – day prisoners.


Our creative partners

Dilly Arts would like to thank our creative partners; Arcus Studios, Attaya Projects, writer Sheree Mack, historian John Saddler, website and Moodle developer Graeme Redshaw–Boxwell and curator Suzy O’Hara.

Our Funders

Dilly Arts would like to acknowledge the support of Heritage Lottery Fund for funding this project.

Our project partners

Dilly Arts would like to thank our project partners; Hexham Gaol, HMP Frankland, HMP Durham, HMP Low Newton, NEPACS and Whitfield Primary School.