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Historically, Lothian is that part of modern Scotland between the rivers Forth and Tweed. It was controlled by Northumbria from the 7th century, then England, until the rise of Scottish power during the 11th century when Malcolm II won control at the battle of Carham in 1018. The Tweed border was agreed between Malcolm and king Canute in 1028. Edinburgh is its traditional administrative centre.

The region suffered frequent upheaval for most of the Middle Ages and into the modern era with the frequent hostilities between England and Scotland. It became divided into the Scottish counties of East and West Lothian and Midlothian until local government reforms were implemented in 1975. Today, the region is divided into those three administrative districts plus Edinburgh.