There are only a few direct references to Falstone in Medieval and Early Modern sources to shed light on how it fitted into this pattern of settlement.
In 1317-18 Robert I, King of Scotland, who had seized control of North Tynedale, conferred the vale on Philip Moubray knight, who built himself a certain fortified stronghold (presidium) near the chapel of 'Foustan' (Galbraith 1928, 209; RRS v, no 428, p. 665; cf. Barrow 1974). Moubray had served the English as commander of Stirling Castle during its prolonged siege in 1313-14, but reverted to Scottish allegiance following the Battle of Bannockburn.
Barrow plausibly suggests his presidium was probably an earth and timber fortress, hastily erected and doubtless very short-lived. It was presumably destroyed as soon as the English recovered control of the valley. The reference reveals there was a still a chapel at Falstone at this date. The location of Moubray’s stronghold has not been identified. One possibility is that it represents the ruined site which Armstrong depicts below Hawkhope, just to the west of Falstone. However that would imply that the structure was built or rebuilt in stone at some stage, rather than simply being a temporary earth-and-timber structure.
In 1371, three men were reported to have been murdered at ‘Faustane’ (Cal Close R 13/4/1371; CalDocScot iv, no 180). The Court of Chancery ordered the manorial court at Wark to forward papers for ‘an inquisition what evildoers and breakers of the peace at Falstone in Tynedale slew John Robson of Tynedale, Adam Robson and Thomas Robson’ (cf. Robson 1989, 39; Barrow 1974).
It is interesting to note the early appearance of one of the classic reiver surnames - Robson. The use of surnames became much more common from the 14th century onwards, but they were to have a special significance in North Tynedale and Redesdale where they became associated with the border reiving clans, collectively known as the ‘Tynedale thieves’ in late 15th and 16th century documents. Indeed ‘surname’, rather than the Scottish Highland label ‘clan’, was the term used to refer to these groupings in contemporary sources.
Effectively these were kinship based self protection groups, which emerged in the late medieval period as a result of the heightened insecurity due to prolonged Anglo-Scottish conflict and weakened often absentee, lordship. Such groups provided some measure of security for the valley’s inhabitants during these turbulent conditions through the threat of clan retaliation and feud. The presence of these Robsons at Falstone in late 14th century suggests these surnames were beginning to emerge at this time. The surname Robson was especially prominent at Falstone itself and throughout the neighbouring part of the valley.
Indeed by the 16th century the Robsons of Falstone seem to have become the senior lineage, or ‘grayne’ in 16th-century parlance, of their surname. Parallels for this kind of social structure have been recognised around the world by anthropologists and are termed segmentary tribal societies, the term segmentary signifying that each larger unit, the ‘surname’, was composed of several smaller units, the lineage or ‘grayne’, itself composed of several cousinly families inhabiting a neighbourhood of dispersed farmsteads or hamlets.
Each set of the smaller social units is said, in anthropological terms, to be ‘nested’ within the larger level grouping to which it belonged. The Robson surname was composed of four such graynes in the early 16th century (Robson 1989, 43), although, as is common in segmentary societies, this internal structure was not necessarily rigid or permanently fixed and the number of graynes within any particular surname could fluctuate over time. The leading Robson of Falstone was the acknowledged figurehead of the surname, a kind of chieftain labelled the ‘heidsman’ or ‘laird’. Thus the brothers Henry and John Robson are recorded cohabiting at Falstone farm in c. 1540, but John, although the younger of the two, had evidently eclipsed his less capable sibling and was already acting as heidsman of their particular grayne and the entire Robson surname by the late 1530s (Robson 1989, 43, 90-2).
At around the same time, in 1541, the border commissioners, Sir Robert Bowes and Sir Ralph Ellerker, noted there was a chapel at ‘the Fawe stone’ for private masses (cf. Bates 1891, ), indicating the chapel mentioned in 1318 was still in use. The settlement figures as ‘Fauston hall’ on Saxton's map of Northumberland engraved in 1576, followed by Speed in 1610 (fig. 13).
Falstone was not mentioned in the 1604 Border Survey which itemised in detail the tenants of the royal manor of Wark, probably because it formed part of a larger freeholding held by Sir Anthony Palmer as part of the old manor of Tarset. Neighbouring Hawkhope was listed, however, forming a separate freeholding in the hands of Jasper Charleton (1604 Survey, 54). Nevertheless the survival of the bastle, immediately south of the church, with the date 1604 inscribed on the door lintel confirms there was at least one farm on the site of the present village at the beginning of the 17th century.