MUSICIAN Mark Knopfler is tonight presenting a television programme about the 250th anniversary of the Mason-Dixon line.

The famous border, which separates northern states in the east of the USA from the southern states, was mapped by Jeremiah Dixon who came from County Durham and Charles Mason.

In tonight’s episode of Inside Out, at 7.30pm on BBC One, the Dire Straits singer and guitarist will tell Dixon’s remarkable story as well as giving an exclusive performance of a song he wrote about the surveyor from Cockfield, near Bishop Auckland.

He, along with Charles Mason, an astronomer from the West Country, were brought together 250 years ago to map out the Mason-Dixon line which covers 230 miles across the United States.

The path of the line had to be completely straight regardless of the terrain but the terrain they encountered included mountains, ravines and frequent outbreaks of warfare making their job even more remarkable.

Following its completion, the Mason-Dixon line went on to symbolise America’s deep divisions over slavery.

Knopfler wrote Sailing to Philadelphia about the two men as a way of keeping their memory alive.

He said: “There are no true portraits or images or gravestones of Mason and Dixon, so in my own way I’m glad to have tried to keep them alive in a song.

“A County Durham lad and a West Country baker’s boy whose incredible achievements mean they really should be remembered as local heroes.”

John Dixon, also from County Durham, the great great great great great nephew of Jeremiah, is interviewed about his ancestor’s upbringing.

Mr Dixon said: “He was talented as a young boy, as a mathematician, and developed that into surveying.

“He was a bit of a lad and he enjoyed socialising , carousing and he was actually put out of the Quakers in 1760 for drinking to excess and keeping loose company.”