Click for Bookshop

Old County of Roxburghshire

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2013.

It has taken much time and money to make the six-volumes of Groome's text freely accessible. Please help us continue and develop by making a donation. If only one out of every ten people who view this page gave £5 or $10, the project would be self-sustaining. Sadly less than one in thirty-thousand contribute, so please give what you can.

Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry Arrow

Roxburghshire, an inland county in the middle of the Scottish marches, and perhaps the most characteristically Border county of all, lies between 55° 6' 40" and 55° 42' 52' N lat., and between 2° 11' and 3° 7' 50" W long. It is bounded on the N by Berwickshire, E and SE by England, SW by Dumfriesshire, and W by Selkirkshire and a southerly projection from Edinburghshire. Its greatest length, from the point where the Tweed issues from the county in the N to the extreme SW, is 42 miles; its greatest breadth, from E to W, is 30 miles; and its total area is 669.5 square mile or 428, 493 acres, of which 2836 are water. Roxburgh- shire is the thirteenth county of Scotland in point of size, and the seventeenth in point of population. Its outline is irregular; but its shape may be described as a rough rectangle, 17 or 18 miles by 35 to 40, lying from NE to SW along the English border, with a narrow peninsula, 10 or 12 miles long, protruding from its northern side. The boundary line runs from the Tweed at Carham Burn southwards to the Cheviot Hills on the English border; thence turns to the SW along a series of watersheds between the two countries, past Carter Fell and Peel Fell, to Kershope Water, which carries it on to the SW extremity at Liddlebank. Thence the line turns almost due N along the E border of Dumfriesshire; but at Tudhope Fell bends suddenly westwards, and after a circuit trends N W in an ex- ceedingly irregular and arbitrary course to the sources of the Elwyn, which marks the N limit of the county. Thence turning eastward for a few miles, it strikes the course of the Leader, and with one indentation follows it southwards to the Tweed at Makerstoun. From this point it follows along the course of the Tweed, making, however, two considerable loops northwards, to include Smailholm and Makerstoun, and Ednam and Stitchel, before it once more reaches Carham Burn. This line throughout most of its circuit, entirely disregards all geographical and natural boundaries, and its irregularities and divergences are perplexingly capricious. Three districts of the county are geographically separated from its main body. The first of these lies N of the Tweed. between the rivers Gala and Leader, and belongs naturally to Lauderdale. It contains only part, though the larger part, of the parish of Melrose. The second district also lies N of the Tweed, from a line about 3 miles E of the Leader to the NE boundary; an d belongs naturally to the Merse. It embraces the parishes of Smailholm, Makerstoun, Stitchel, Ednam, and part of Kelso. The third district consists of the triangular projection in the extreme SE, and is separated from the main body by a continuous mountain watershed. It is drained by the river Liddel, whence it receives the name of Liddesdale, and comprises the large parish of Castleton. The main body of Roxburgh- shire amounts to 14 or 15-20ths of the whole area, and consists chiefly of the basin of the Teviot. It bears the general name of Teviotdale, which, indeed, is sometimes used as synonymous with Roxburghshire. This district surrounds a small isolated portion of Selkirkshire, and gives off to the main body of that county some little districts drained by tributaries of the Teviot; while it includes a western district on the Tweed, sending no affluent to the Teviot, with two or three eastern pendicles drained by Bowmont Water and other streams into Northumberland.

Surface.—The surface of the two divisions N of the Tweed and of the whole northern part of Teviotdale, is, as compared with the rest of the county, decidedly champaign-undulating and even boldly variegated, but in no place rising into heights, except in the Eildon Hills behind Melrose, the Penielheugh, the Dunian, the Minto, and the Ruberslaw Hills. The Merse district is almost level; while on the S bank of the Tweed there extends a sort of rolling plain. Everywhere, but especially near the Tweed, this region is highly farmed and extensively adorned with trees. The county S of this united district is, in a general view, all hilly, and over a great extent mountainous. The vales and hanging plains within the basin of the Teviot follow the course of that stream or its tributaries, and whether they have narrow bottoms or sloping braes, are either under tillage or covered with sheep, or profusely adorned with wood. The heights are all beautiful and rounded in aspect, though those which overhang the upper Teviot and Liddesdale valleys are more boldly mountainous, and in some instances moorish, barren, and bleak.

Mountains.—The chief mountains of Roxburghshire are those of the Cheviot range, which extends along the S border from Yetholm parish to Craik Hill, near the source of the Borthwick border. The highest summits in this range within the county, from E to W, are the Schel (1978 feet), Auchopecairn (2382), Hounam Law (1464), Grindstone Law (1535), Arks Edge (1469), Carter Fell (1899), Peel Fell (1964), and Larriston Fells (1677). A projection of the Cheviots strikes westward from a point about 20 miles SW of Auchopecairn, and forms the mutual boundary between Teviotdale and Liddesdale, and thence extends NW across the south-western border of Teviotdale into junction with the southern Highlands, which extend across Scotland from the coast of Berwickshire to the coast of Ayrshire. On the watershed between Teviotdale and Liddesdale the chief summits are Wheelrig Head (1465 feet), Carlintooth (1801), Needslaw (1457), Fanna Hill (1643), Winburgh (1662), Leap Steel (1544), Maiden Paps (1677), and Skelfhill Fell (1749); while on the Dumfriesshire border rise Watch Hill (1642), Roan Fell (1839), Din Fell (1735), Tudhope Hill (1961), Wisp Hill (1951), Whitehope Edge (1506), and Craik Cross Hill (1481). Other summits and hills within the county are Ruberslaw (1392 feet) between the Teviot and Rule, with Minto Crags (700) on the opposite bank of the former river, while to the NW rise the two rounded summits of Minto (905). East of the Rule, and between the Teviot and Jed, rises the Dunian (1095 feet), overhanging Jedburgh; and immediately N of the point where these two rivers join stands Penielheugh (700). Dunlaw (663 feet), near the scene of the battle of Ancrum Moor, is surmounted by the ruins of an observatory built by Baron Rutherford of Fairnington, and now locally known as 'the baron's folly.' Near Melrose rise the three Eildons (respectively 1385, 1327, and 1216 feet), commanding a lovely and extensive view. In the range of hills that extends westwards from this point towards Selkirk, the chief summits in Roxburghshire are Bowden Moor (933 feet), Cauldshiels Hill (1076), and Whitlaw Kip (1059). In the small peninsula part of the shire N of the Tweed and between the Gala and the Leader the chief hills are Buckholm Hill (1064 feet), William Law (1315), and Sell Moor (1388). Other hills, worthy of notice from their associations if not from their size, are Skelfhill Pen, Pencrestpen, Pencrest, and Burgh Hill, in the W part of Cavers parish; Nine Stane Rig in Castleton, where one of the Soulis family is said to have been boiled alive by the men of Teviotdale on account of his cruelty; the Hermitage Hills, with the castle of the same name; Billhope Braes, famous for 'bucks and raes;, Carby Hill, between the Liddel and Kershope Waters; and the Chesters in Southdean parish.

Streams.—Roxburghshire is perhaps only excelled by Perthshire among the counties of Scotland for the number and picturesque beauty of its streams; but the rivers of the southern county are even more celebrated in song than those of the northern. The chief stream, both in bulk and in beauty, is the Tweed, which enters the county from Selkirkshire about 2 miles below the burgh of Selkirk, and leaves it after a beautiful course of 30 miles at the influx of Carham Burn on the NE border. The course of this river in the county is towards the NE across the northern part of the shire, and for a considerable distance it forms the boundary with Berwickshire. All the other main streams of Roxburghshire flow directly or ultimately into the Tweed. The chief affluents of that river in the county on the left or northern bank are the Gala, which forms part of the western border of the shire; Allan Water; the Leader, which separates Roxburghshire from part of Berwickshire; and not far from the point where it leaves the district, Eden Water. On the right or S bank the main tributaries of the Tweed are the Ettrick, which touches the county only for a mile or two on the western border; and the Teviot, which joins the Tweed at Kelso. The Teviot is the second river in Roxburghshire, and its whole course lies within the county limits. It rises in the Fanhill, one of the hills which separate Roxburghshire from Dumfriesshire in the SE, and thence it flows NW in a line parallel to the main axis of the shire for about 40 miles, until it falls into the Tweed at Kelso. On its left bank it receives the Borthwick and Ale Waters; and on its right bank the Allan, Slitrig, Rule, Jed, Oxnam, and Kale. Borthwick Water is formed by the junction of the Craik Hope, Howpasley, and Wolfcleugh Burns, and has a course of 16 miles. The Ale flows for 24 miles in a winding course before it joins the Teviot. The Allan has a short course of only 5 miles; it supplies the town of Hawick with water. The Slitrig, which joins the Teviot at Hawick, is an impetuous stream subject to floods. The Rule is formed by the junction of the Wauchope, Harwood, and Catlee Burns, and has a course of 9¼ miles, for the most part through a narrow wooded glen. The 'crystal Jed' rises on the Liddesdale border, and receives on its course of 21¾ miles the Black, Carlee, White, Shaw, Edgerston, and Pier Burns. The Oxnam flows 9¾ miles before entering the main stream; and Kale Water falls into the Teviot at Kalemouth, after a sinuous course of 20¼ miles, during which it is joined by Cessford Burn and other small affluents. The Liddel, receiving on its right bank the Hermitage and Tinnis, and on the left the Black Burn, Larriston Burn, and the Kershope, crosses the Scottish border, and after a course of 26¾ miles joins the Esk below Canonbie. In the E of the shire the Bowmont Water runs northwards, and crosses the border in Yetholm parish to join the Till in England.

The lakes of the county are both few and small. Primside or Yetholm Loch, in Morebattle parish, is about 1½ mile in circumference; it is thought to have been connected with the former Linton Loch, now drained, close by. Hoselaw Loch is in Linton parish. Cauldshiels Loch, about a mile in circumference, is situated on the Abbotsford property, and is surrounded by trees planted by Sir Walter Scott. Huntly Burn flows from this lakelet through the Rhymer's Glen, a favourite haunt of Thomas the Rhymer. Petrifying streams occur in the parishes of Roxburgh, Minto, and Carleton; mineral springs in Jedburgh, Oxnam, Crailing, St Boswells, and Castleton; and 'consecrated' wells, as St Helen's, St Robert's, and St Dunstan's, in the neighbourhood of Melrose.

Geology.—The geological history of Roxburghshire presents several features of special interest to the geologist, partly from the remarkable development of the older Palæozoic rocks and partly from the relations of the Calciferous Sandstones along the border to the Carboniferous system in the N of England. The various formations represented in this county are given in the following table:—

Recent and Pleistocene Peat and alluvium
Glacial gravels
Kames
Boulder-clay with inter-glacia beds
Carboniferous Calciferous Sandstone series
Old Red Sandstone Upper. Conglomerates and sandstones with fish remains.
Lower Intercalations of sandstones and conglomerates with the contemporaneous volcanic rocks of the Cheviots.
Silurian Upper Wenlock beds.
Lower Caradoc.
Llandeilo.
Queensberry Grits
Moffat Black Shale Group.
Ardwell Group.
Igneous Rocks.
Contemporaneous. Porphyrites, tuffs, etc., of Lower Carboniferous age.
Porphyrites, tuffs, etc., of Upper Old Red Sandstone age.
Porphyrites, tuffs, etc., of Lower Old Red Sandstone age.
Intrusive. Basalt dykes of Tertiary age.
Diabase, Basalt, Porphyrite, and volcanic necks of Carboniferous age.
Minette and Granite, Post Upper Silurian and Lower Old Red Sandstone age.

Beginning with the Lower Silurian rocks, which are the oldest sedimentary strata in the county, we find that they cover an extensive area lying to the W of a line drawn from Old Melrose, S by Kirkton, to the sources of the Teviot. According to the classification adopted by the Geological Survey, the strata forming the Ardwell Group, consisting of yellow and brown tinted greywackes and shales, are regarded as the oldest members of the Lower Silurian formation in the S of Scotland. Though probably of no great thickness, yet by reason of innumerable folds they extend from the sources of the Teviot N to near Abbotsford, where they are succeeded by the representatives of the Moffat black shales. Disregarding minor folds, the members of this group are arranged in a gentle arch, the axis of which runs more or less parallel with the Teviot along a line about 1 mile to the N of that stream. The overlying black shales are admirably exposed in 'the Rhymer's Glen' near Melrose, whence they can be traced in a SW direction to the bridge spanning the Ettrick at its point of junction with the Tweed. At the former locality there is evidence of excessive crumpling and crushing of the beds, but, nevertheless, it is apparent that the zones present considerable variations compared with their development in the typical Moffat area. Indeed, some of the fossiliferous bands have disappeared, and it is also observable that the black shales which do occur, are associated with greywackes and shales-a feature common to the Selkirkshire area (see article on geology of Selkirkshire, same vol., p. 333). To the N of the line indicated as the outcrop of the Moffat black shales, there succeeds a belt of flaggy greywackes and shales -the equivalents of the Grieston beds, and these are overlain in turn by the strong grit bands of the Queensberry series on the Meigle Hill near Galashiels in Selkirkshire.

The Upper Silurian rocks occupy several detached areas, the largest of which lies immediately to the S of the tract covered by the Ardwell beds, extending from the county boundary at Wisp Hill E by Stobs Castle, till they are overlapped by the Upper Old Red Sandstone. Other masses occur in the heart of the Old Red Sandstone and Carboniferous areas, and of these, the most important is traceable from near Riccarton NE to near Hobkirk—a distance of 14 miles. Throughout these areas, the strata are as much folded and contorted as the Lower Silurian rocks, and hence there is a constant repetition of the same beds. Along the N limit of the tract bounding the Ardwell Group, about 3 miles S of Hawick, the lowest beds consist of grits, which are rapidly succeeded by shales containing a thin band crowded with graptolites and orthoceratites. These are followed by greenish-grey greywackes and shales forming the dominant members of the series, occasionally containing a band of fossiliferous shales similar to that just indicated. Zones of pebbly grit and conglomerate, yielding casts of shells, encrinites, etc., are frequently met with. Excellent sections of the highest beds of the series are exposed in the railway cuttings near Riccarton.

The representatives of the Lower Old Red Sandstone consist almost wholly of contemporaneous volcanic rocks, and cover an area of about 80 square miles on the Cheviots. Before the outburst volcanic activity during this period, the Silurian rocks had been plicated and subjected to a vast amount of denudation. Wherever the unconformable junction is exposed, the lavas and tuffs rest on the upturned edges of the Silurian strata, so that a long interval of time must have elapsed between the close of the Upper Silurian period and the earliest volcanic eruptions of the Lower Old Red Sandstone in this region. The oldest member of the volcanic series in Roxburghshire consists of a coarse agglomerate or tuff exposed on the hill slopes E of Hindhope at the head of Kale Water, where it rests on the Upper Silurian greywackes and shales. Sheet after sheet of porphyrite succeeds this basal tuff, the whole series being inclined at a gentle angle to the SE. Few intercalations of tuff are associated with these ancient lavas, but occasionally thin seams of chocolate-coloured sandstone are met with, thereby indicating that the area had subsided beneath the waters of the Old Red Sandstone lake. An excellent example of the alternation of sandstones and lavas occurs on the Kale Water, about 4 miles S of the village of Hounam. Some of the bands still retain their original glassy matrix, as, for example, at Cocklanfoot in the neighbourhood of the Big Cheviot and near Morebattle on Kale Water. A few volcanic necks pierce these porphyrite lavas, occurring chiefly round the Big Cheviot.

That the volcanic series just described was highly denuded before the deposition of the Upper Old Red Sandstone is evident from an examination of the boundary line between the two formations, and also from the character of the conglomerate at the base of the Upper Old Red strata. The latter fills up bays and hollows cut out of the ancient lavas, while the included pebbles of the basal conglomerate, where it flanks the volcanic area, are composed mainly of trappean fragments. Far to the W, even, where no Lower Old Red lavas or tuffs are now to be found, as, for instance, S of Hawick, there is a larger number of blocks of Cheviot porphyrites in the conglomerates than Silurian fragments.

Nearly one third of the county is made up of Upper Old Red strata. A line drawn from Newtown St Boswells to Kirkton, thence to Edgerton, Kelso, and back to St Boswells, encloses the largest mass of this formation. To the SW of this area long tongues of Upper Old Red Sandstone fill old valleys carved out of the older rocks, while another narrow belt skirting the Cheviot volcanic rocks extends from Crailing to the English border on the S side of the Tweed. The oldest member of this formation consists of a coarse conglomerate resembling a boulder clay, filling up old hollows and river courses in the older rocks. The greatest development of this deposit occurs in Lauderdale, where, owing to the smoothed edges of the included blocks and their irregular arrangement, it is sometimes difficult to tell the boundary line between it and the overlying boulder clay. Overlying this conglomerate we find a great development of marls and sandstones forming the prominent beds of this formation. They are admirably exposed in the Tweed from St Boswells to Rutherford, in the Ale Water near Ancrum, and in the Jed Water near Kelso. From the sandstone bands in these sections, fish remains have been obtained, comprising Holoptychius nobilissimus and Pterichthys major. In Belses quarry near Ancrum, Palæopteris Hibernica is said to have been found.

Along the N border of the county the Upper Old Red Sandstone attains its greatest development; and near the upper limits of the formation near Smailholm, a thin band of porphyrite lava is intercalated with the red sandstones-evidently the first indication of the Kelso volcanic rocks. The latter form an important horizon between the Upper Old Red Sandstone and the overlying Calciferous Sandstones in Roxburghshire. From the N border of the county near Stitchel, where they pass into Berwickshire, these ancient lavas, composed of diabase-porphyrites, can be traced W to Smailholm, thence across the Tweed to Makerstoun, causing the gorge known as 'the Makerstoun trows' (troughs). From this point the volcanic belt can be followed E along the S side of the Tweed as far as the county boundary. This volcanic zone, represented by a few bands of slaggy diabase with an overlying bed of tuff, occurs in the neighbourhood of Riccarton, coming to the surface wherever this horizon is exposed. Between this point and Kelso the volcanic rocks are absent, the Calciferous Sandstones resting directly on the Upper Old Red Sandstone. It reappears, however, in the Dinley Burn, a tributary of the Hermitage Water, and can be traced across the watershed to the Tarras Water.

An interesting feature connected with this development of volcanic activity at the base of the Calciferous Sandstones, is the number of necks or volcanic orifices throughout the county. Some of these undoubtedly supplied the volcanic rocks belonging to this horizon, while others probably acted as blowholes for the discharge of triturated materials. An excellent example occurs at Melrose, and in the quarry near the station there is a capital section of the material filling the vent. A glance at the Geological Survey maps of the county (sheets 11, 25, 26 of the 1-inch map) will show the distribution of these old centres of eruption. Black Law, Down Law, Dunian Hill, Rubers Law, the Maiden Paps, are all examples of the cores of Lower Carboniferous Cones.

There are two areas of Carboniferous rocks in the county—one in the extreme NE part, extending from near Kelso to the Merse of Berwickshire; the other, and larger area of the two, runs along the English border from a point where the road crosses from Jedburgh to Redesdale, to near the junction of the Liddel with the Esk. The latter covers the greater part of Liddesdale and the surrounding heights, culminating in the Peel, Carter, and Larriston Fells. In the former area, the strata form the rim of the Carboniferous basin of the Merse of Berwickshire. As already indicated, they overlie the volcanic belt at Kelso, and consist of blue, red, and green clays, white and blue cement-stones, flaggy sandstones, and occasional bands of calcareous conglomeratic sandstone, dipping away at gentle angles from the ancient lavas. It is evident, therefore, that they resemble the type of the Cement-stone series as developed in Midlothian.

The relations of the Carboniferous rocks of Liddesdale to those in the N of England will be discussed in the general article on the geology of Scotland. Even in this limited area there are considerable variations in the order of succession of the strata when traced along the strike. Beginning with the section in Lower Liddesdale we find that the beds overlying the volcanic zone at the base of the Calciferous Sandstones consist of sandstones, well seen on the Whita Hill above Langholm, followed by cement-stones consisting of blue and green clays, shales, and calcareous sandstones. Near Newcastleton there is a volcanic zone occupying the horizon of the famous scorpion bed at Langholm. (See article on geology of Dumfriesshire, Ord. Gaz., vol. ii., p. 398.) A second horizon of slaggy basalt occurs a little higher up in the series, just above the lowest beds of the Fell Sandstones, which form the next subdivision of the Calciferous Sandstones of Liddesdale. In the lower districts the base of this group is represented by a coarse sandstone seen at Kershope Foot, thickening out towards the E, and forming the Kidd's Linn Sandstone of Upper Liddesdale. The basalt zone of Caerby Hill comes next in order, followed by strata resembling the underlying Cement-stone group, with a band of fine tuff and some thin coal seams, the whole series being overlain by the Larriston Fell Sandstones-the highest beds in this part of the county. Along this horizon, however, to the W there is a gradual increase in the number of bands of marine limestone, the equivalents of the Penton Limestone group, and perhaps the lower part of the Canonbie Coalfield. The upper part of the latter coalfield is probably on the same horizon as the Plashetts Coalfield, which is high up in the Fell Sandstone group.

In Upper Liddesdale the succession is not so varied. The white sandstones at the base are replaced by Cement-stones and clays, the whole of the upper part of the valley being carved out of these strata, and they are also traceable high up on the flanks of Peel Fell. Thick beds of sandstone alternate with the upper part of the series, and these are overlain by the great group of the Fell Sandstones. Underneath the latter there is a thin seam of coal, the outcrop of which can be followed for some distance.

Between Hawick and Selkirk some dykes of minette and mica trap occur, having a NNE and SSW trend, which are only found in the Silurian rocks. As they do not pierce any rocks later than the Upper Silurian, they are supposed to have been intruded either during Ludlow or Lower Old Red Sandstone time. Pink felsite is found in dykes, and also in the form of sheets, as in the Eildons and the Black Hill of Earlston. As these sheets penetrate the Silurian and Upper Old Red Sandstone, they are probably associated with the volcanic activity in the Lower Carboniferous period. Sheets and masses of intrusive basalt belonging to the same period occur, and bosses of porphyrite are also associated with the volcanic orifices. Basalt dykes of Tertiary age are met with, one of which crosses the county from E to W, passing through Hawick, where it is known as 'the Yethan dyke' (i.e., Cast Iron dyke).

The glacial phenomena of the Border county will be discussed in the general article on the geology of Scotland.

Economic Minerals.—The calcareous bands in the Calciferous Sandstone series have been wrought for lime in Liddesdale, as, for instance, at Tholieshope. Some of them yield an excellent marine cement, but those at present quarried are used for mortar and for agricultural purposes. The white sandstones at the base of the series in Lower Liddesdale form an excellent building stone. The coarse sandstone at Kershope Foot has also been worked. One of the thick beds of sandstone in the Cement-stones of the upper part of the basin has been worked at the Dead Water, and has been extensively used for building purposes in the Border towns. In the E part of the county the harder bands of the Upper Old Red formation, as well as the grits in the Silurian series, are used for similar purposes.

Soil.—The soil of the arable lands is partly light and partly heavy. The former consists of rich loam, or of mixtures of sand and loam, gravel and loam, or sand, gravel, and clay, on various subsoils, and occurs generally on low or level lands in the vales of the streams. In some cases it is also found on eminences of considerable height, especially in the parishes of Linton, Eckford, Crailing, Ancrum, Maxton, and Melrose. The heavy soil consists chiefly of clay or clay mixtures lying upon till or other retentive subsoils. It occurs mostly on the high arable lands; it rarely appears in the valleys except on a dry bottom or alternating with light soil. It forms a considerable aggregate in the parishes on both sides of Tweed around Kelso; it covers an area 10 miles by 4, comprising nearly all Bowden, Lilliesleaf, and Minto parishes, and parts of the parishes on the northern border of these. Over one-half of that area it is deep and fertile; but over the other it is cold and shallow and uncertain in production, and is therefore largely devoted to plantation. The pastoral lands have either dry, wet, or heathy soils. The first prevails all eastward of the Jed, is interspersed with some small patches of heath and a few small drained marshes, and in general has a thick sward of rich sweet grass. Wet soil prevails from the SW skirts of Ruberslaw to the confines of Liddesdale, and consists there of stubborn clay upon impenetrable till. Within Liddesdale it is extensively intermixed with heath; and in all the region SW of the Jed, or from the SW skirts of Ruberslaw to the SW extremity of Liddesdale, it is prevailingly so wet as to render the land almost entirely pastoral. At the same time it isolates a considerable aggregate proportion of dry land, and includes spongy fields susceptible of great improvement by draining.

Climate.—The climate is temperate, but the eastern border is in winter exposed to violent snowstorms. The most copious rainfall in the county occurs in the mountains towards the SW and S. Very cold winds from the N and E prevail at certain seasons of the year.

Industries.—Besides the manufacturing industries which centre wholly in the towns and larger villages, according to the returns of 1881, 4793 of the male population were engaged in agriculture; 8347 in industrial employments; 815 in commerce; 9669 unproductive; and the rest variously employed. Roxburghshire carries on arable and pastoral farming, which indeed is the sole county industry. In early times the monks of the great abbeys were the chief cultivators of the soil in the county, and these contributed not a little to its civilisation and enrichment. Modern agricultural improvements began in Roxburghshire about the same time as in the other southern counties of Scotland. Before 1743, the practice of draining, enclosing, and fallowing, and of raising cabbages, flax, hemp, rape, and grass seeds, were generally introduced. In 1747, the practice of sowing turnips in the fields was introduced by Dr John Rutherford of Melrose; and by 1753 the culture was reduced to a regular system of cropping by Mr Dawson at Frogden. Potatoes were introduced as a field-crop in 1754; and next year lime and marl began to be used as manures, after the example of Mr Dawson and Sir Gilbert Elliot. Thenceforward the progress was rapid. Mr Wight, who made two agricultural surveys of the county, respectively in 1773 and 1780, declared, at the latter date, that 'he was amazed at the advances all had made since his former survey, as every field had assumed a better aspect from an improving hand.' In the 20 years, 1774 - 1794, the lands in the county became doubled in value, almost solely in consequence of ameliorations in husbandry. In the present century the shire has not lagged; and in certain districts the farmers of Roxburghshire are little behind those of the Lothians. According to the returns of 1881, there were 71 farms in the county of 1000 acres and upwards; 82 between 500 and 1000; 217 between 100 and 500; 35 between 50 and 100; and 60 below 50, of which 18 were below 10. The arable farms are mostly between 400 and 600 acres; those of larger extent being in most cases wholly or chiefly pastoral.

The following table exhibits the principal crops, and the acreage under each at various dates:—

  1868. 1877. 1882. 1884.
Wheat, . . . . 3,007 1,509 2,358 1,515
Barley, . . . . 13,327 16,472 15,007 13,355
Oats, . . . . 30,969 33,111 33,414 32,624
Potatoes, . . . . 2,199 1,846 2,133 2,118
Turnips, . . . . 25,596 26,513 26,045 25,143
Cabbage, etc., . . . 216 398 544 464
Other Green Crops,. . 450 522 573 660
Bare or Fallow, . . 540 .. 249 310
Grasses in Rotation, . 52,712 57,810 56,300 59,937
Permanent Pasture, . 50,866 30,097 43,889 47,058

The above figures are exclusive of heath or mountain pasture. In 1884, 47 acres were in orchards; 47 in market gardens; 53 in nursery grounds; and 14,679 in plantations and coppices, exclusive of garden shrubberies. he following table exhibits the quantity of live stock in the county at different dates:—

  1868. 1875. 1879. 1884.
Horses, . . . . 4,521 4,559 4,420
Cattle, . . 16,106 17,062 16,540 17,831
Sheep, . . 487,933 486,790 497,692 502,721
Pigs, . . . 3,911 3,960 3,352 4,783

Among the other resources of the county, the valuable salmon fisheries on the Tweed must not be overlooked. According to the Sportsman's, Tourist's, and General Guide for Oct. 1884, the annual value of fishings let in Roxburghshire was £2290; while the value of grouse and other shootings let was £2829. Very many of the other streams also contain excellent trout and other fresh-water fish; and perch and pike abound in the lochs. The main imports into the shire are lime, coal, foreign wool for manufacturing purposes, and articles for domestic consumption; and the exports are chiefly the manufactured products of the textile factories, and cattle and sheep, largely sent to England.

Roads and Railways.—Previous to 1764 the county was miserably provided with roads and bridges, and possessed but few reaches of roadway suitable for wheeled traffic. There were then only two good bridges across the Tweed, viz., at Melrose and Kelso; and only two across the Teviot, viz., at Hawick and Ancrum. But, between 1764 and 1797, no less than 153 miles of excellent road were formed; 2 bridges were rebuilt; 25 new stone bridges erected over the principal streams, besides large numbers of smaller erections over the minor streams and hollows. Within the present century a similar activity has prevailed; and now the county, except in its more mountainous parts, is amply provided with the means of interior communication. The Waverley Route of the North British railway, from Edinburgh to Carlisle, runs southwards for about 50 miles through the county, with stations at Galashiels, Melrose, St Boswells, Belses, Hassendean, Hawick, Stobs, Shankend, Riccarton, Steele Road, Newcastleton, and Kershope Foot. From Galashiels a branch extends to Selkirk, with stations at Abbotsford Ferry and Lindean; and another branch runs to Peebles, with stations in Roxburghshire at Clovenfords, Thornilee, and Walkerburn. From Newtown St Boswells Junction, one branch, known as the Berwickshire railway, runs with no Roxburghshire stations to Berwick; and another proceeds thither also, by the Tweed valley, with stations at Maxton, Rutherford, Roxburgh, Kelso, Sprouston, Carham, and Sunilaws, and sending off at Roxburgh Junction a short branch southwards to Jedburgh, with stations at Kirkbank, Nesbit, and Jedfoot Bridge. From Riccarton Junction on the main line a branch starts off westwards, passes the station of Saughtree before leaving the county, and leads viâ Hexham to Newcastle.

Towns and Villages.—The only royal burgh in Roxburghshire is Jedburgh (3402); Hawick (16,184) and Galashiels (12, 435), which is partly in Selkirkshire, are parliamentary burghs; and the only other towns are Melrose (1550) and Kelso (5235). The villages with more than 300 inhabitants in 1881 were Ancrum, Darnick, Denholm, Gattonside, Lessudden, Lilliesleaf, Morebattle, Newcastleton, Newstead, Newtown St Boswells, Sprouston, and Yetholm. Other villages are Appletreehall, Ashkirk, Bedrule, Bonjedward, Bowden, Caverton, Cessford, Chesters, Crailing, Dean, Deanburnhaugh, Eckford, Ednam, Eildon, Heiton, Hownam, Lanton, Lempitlaw, Linton, Makerstoun, Maxton, Maxwellhaugh, Midlem, Minto, Nisbet (East and West), Rewcastle, Riccarton, Roxburgh, Rutherford, Smailholm, and Ulston.

Mansions.—Among the principal mansions and seats in the county are Floors Castle (Duke of Roxburghe), Branxholm (Duke of Buccleuch), Eildon Hall, Mount Teviot (Marquis of Lothian), Minto House (Earl of Minto), Hartrigge House, Mount Ulston (Lord Stratheden and Campbell), Harden (Lord Polwarth), The Pavilion, Stobs Castle, Wells, and Hallrule (Sir William Eliott, Bart.), Abbotrule, Abbotsford, Allerly, Ancrum House, Ashkirk House, Bonrig, Bonjedward House, Borthwickbrae, Borthwickshiels, Briery Yards, Brigend House, Broomlands, Bucklands House, Cavers, Cherrytrees, Chesters, Chisholm, Cotfield, Crailing House, Drygrange, Edenbank, Edenside, Edgerston House, Ednam House, Elliston House, Fairnington, Gattonside House, Hassendeanburn, Hendersyde, Holmes, Hoscote, Huntlyburn House, Jedbank, Jedfoot House, Kirkbank, Kirklands, Knowesouth, Ladhope House, Langlee, Langraw Larriston, Lessudden House, Liddell Bank, Lintalee Linthill, Lochside, Lowood, Makerstoun House, Maxpoffle, Menslaws, Newton House, Orchard, Ormiston House, Otterburn House, Pinnacle-hill, Priory, Redheugh, Riddell House, St Boswell's Bank, Samieston, Scaurs, Sillerbit Hall, Sinton House, Springside Park, Stirches, Stitchell House, Sunlaws, Sunnyside, Sydenham House, Teviotbank, Tweedbank, Wauchope, Weens, Wester Langlee, Whiterigg, Wilton Lodge, Wolfelee, Woll House, Woodside, and Wooplaw. According to Miscellaneous Statistics of the United Kingdom (1879), 423, 463 acres, with a total gross estimated rental of £456, 883, were divided among 2455 proprietors, the Duke of Buccleuch holding 104, 461 acres (rental £39, 458), the Duke of Roxburghe 50,459 (£43, 820), one other 25, 380 (£7995), two together 36,215 (£32, 618), five 37,002 (£30, 197), twenty-seven 85,139 (£74, 992), thirty 42, 903 (£48, 780), thirty-two 23, 396 (£56, 704), etc-

Roxburghshire is governed by a lord-lieutenant, a vice-lieutenant, 2 deputy-lieutenants, a sheriff, a sheriff- substitute, 3 assistant sheriff-substitutes, and about 150 justices of the peace. Sheriff and other courts are held at Jedburgh periodically, as detailed in our article on that town; and at Kelso, Hawick, and Melrose. The county police force in 1884, exclusive of the forces at Hawick and Galashiels, comprised 40 men, and a superintendent with a salary of £300. The county prison is at Jedburgh. Hawick and Galashiels unite with Selkirk in sending a member to parliament; Jedburgh unites with Haddington, Dunbar, North Berwick, and Lauder for a similar purpose; and the rest of the county elects a member for itself, and had in 1884-85 a parliamentary constituency of 2018. The valuation of the county was (1674) £26, 222, (1815) £254,180, (1855) £316,131, (1876) £420,161, and (1884-85) £421, 520, inclusive of railways.

According to the census of 1881, Roxburgh had 80 inhabitants to the square mile, 19 counties being more densely populated; and the average for all Scotland being 125 per square mile. Pop. (1801) 33, 721, (1811) 37, 230, (1821) 40, 892, (1831) 43, 663, (1841) 46, 025, (1851) 51, 642, (1861) 54,119, (1871) 49, 407, and (1881) 53,442, of whom 28, 006 were females, and 25 Gaelic- speaking. Houses (1881) occupied 10,339, vacant 483, building 76.

The civil county contains 31 entire quoad civilia parishes, viz.: -Ancrum, Bedrule, Bowden, Castleton, Cavers, Crailing, Eckford, Ednam, Hawick, Hobkirk, Hownam, Jedburgh, Kelso, Kirkton, Lilliesleaf, Linton, Makerstoun, Maxton, Melrose, Minto, Morebattle, Oxnam, Roxburgh, St Boswells, Southdean, Sprouston, Stitchel, Teviothead, Wilton, and Yetholm; and parts of Galashiels, Selkirk, Ashkirk, and Roberton. Ecclesiastically, the county is distributed among 34 entire quoad sacra parishes, and parts of 5 others, all, except Castleton, in the presbyteries of Jedburgh, Kelso, Selkirk, and Earlston, all in the synod of Merse and Teviotdale. Castleton is in the presbytery of Langholm and the synod of Dumfries. There are in the shire 78 elementary day-schools (69 of them public), which, with total accommodation for 10,657 children, had (1883) 9229 on the registers, and an average attendance of 7231. All the parishes are assessed for the poor. In 1882-83 the registered poor numbered 875, and the casual poor 1172, on whom was spent a total of £12, 494. There are combination poorhouses at Hawick, Jedburgh, and Kelso. There is no public hospital in the county. The Roxburgh, Berwick, and Selkirk district asylum for the insane is situated at Melrose; a house of refuge at Hawick; a model lodging-house at Jedburgh; and an orphan home at St Boswells. The percentage of illegitimate births was (1871) 11.5, (1873) 11 4, (1876) 11.4, (1880) 11.0 and (1883) 10.2. The registration county gives off part to Selkirk, and receives part of Ashkirk parish from that county; its population is 52, 592.

Antiquities.—The antiquities of Roxburghshire are tolerably numerous, and quite as interesting as those of any other of the southern counties. The tumuli, standing-stones, camps, and hill-forts of the ancient Caledonians, the military works and other remains of the Romanised Britons, and the peel-towers and baronial fortalices of the Middle Ages, are too numerous for separate mention, except in our articles on the various parishes. Among the chief British remains are the very large cairn near Tinnis Hill in Liddesdale, the stones at Ninestanerigg, a circle at Plenderleath, standing-stones at Hownam, Yetholm, Kale Water, etc., and the moat-hill at Hawick. There are remains of forts on the summits of many, if not most, of the highest hills, as on Caerby and Tinnis Hills in Liddesdale; on Blackburn, Cocklaw, the Dunian, Penielheugh, Gattonside Hill, and one of the Eildons. There are caves in the cliffs on the Jed, at Grahamslaw on the Kail, on the Teviot near Roxburgh, and other places. Perhaps the principal relic of the ancient inhabitants is a reach of the Catrail, which passes through the county. The Romans have left traces of their presence in Roxburghshire in part of the Watling Street, and in the Wheel Causeway, another road which seems to have deflected from the Watling Street to traverse Upper Teviotdale. Traces of this second road are to be found in the NE of Liddesdale, and its junction with the Maiden Road, in the N of England, has been made out. The Saxons have left most direct vestiges of their occupation of the county in the local names. The mediæval peels and fortalices, excluding the minor ones, amounted at one time to about 40, but for the most part have now sunk into ruins or absolutely vanished. Among the most famous of these were the castles of Roxburgh, Jedburgh, Cessford, Hermitage, Home, and Fernieherst; and the towers of Branxholm, Goldielands, Harden, Smailholm, Clintwood, Glassford, Littledean, Lintalee, Habbiedean, and Delphiston. Fastnesses of the time of the Border feuds lined the strong banks of the Oxnam Water and some of the Cheviot valleys, and served both as defences against the English inroads and as rally-points for the Scottish forays. These, as they comprehensively bore the name of Henwood, gave rise to the Scottish Border war-cry of 'A' Henwoody! A' Henwoody!' Splendid remains exist of the abbeys of Jedburgh, Kelso, Dryburgh, and Melrose; and interesting associations remain in connection with the Culdean establishment of Old Melrose, and of the neighbouring successor to it, called Red Abbey. Ancient crosses, more or less in good repair, still stand at Ancrum, Bowden, Maxton, Melrose, and Milnholm, and probably other spots. Among historical crosses, now disappeared, were Lyliot's Cross, probably on the site of the memorial stone on the summit of Lilliard's Edgo; Heap Cross at a place called Heap, near Hawick; William's Cross, near Philiphaugh, traditionally said to mark the spot where one of the Douglases was murdered; and Tait's Cross, on the summit of Kershope Hill.

History.—What is now known as Roxburghshire was at the period of the Roman invasion part of the territory of the tribes Gadeni and Ottadini. The Romans marched through the district and made themselves so far masters of it; and after their departure it eventually became part of the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. Subject to the varying fortunes of that kingdom, Roxburghshire passed under the dominion of the Scottish crown in 1020, when large part of Northumbria was ceded to Malcolm Ceannmor. In 1107, when Alexander ascended the throne, Roxburghshire, with other lands in the south and west of Scotland, passed to Earl David, the king's brother, as an appanage. David ruled it throughout the period of his earldom almost in the manner of a sovereign lord; and on his accession to the throne, treated it as part of his kingdom. He made it a chief scene of his administration; founded and richly endowed the abbeys of Melrose, Kelso, and Jedburgh, and made profuse grants of its lands to his barons; and in consequence almost revolutionised the condition of the county. The Morvilles, Soulises, Corbetts, Percys, Berkeleys, and Vesseys, all followers of David from England, were established in Roxburghshire in this reign. The ambitions of the nobles, and the power and wealth of the rich abbeys, speedily made the county a place of importance, while they assisted in its development. Numerous events of both national and local importance occurred in the county in reigns subsequent to that of David; but they have been already treated in our articles on the chief towns of the shire.

So early as the commencement of the Scoto-Saxon period, and up to the death of the Maid of Norway, Roxburgh was a sheriffdom. Edward I. seems to have considered this frontier county as his own; and, when he settled the affairs of the kingdom, he appointed a custodier of the castles of Roxburgh and Jedburgh to act as military governor of the whole shire. Under Bruce Roxburghshire began to enjoy for a short period its ancient policy of peaceful times; but after his death it was claimed in sovereignty by the English kings, and suffered no little anarchy from their collisions with the Scottish crown. In 1334 a sheriff was set over it by Edward III., and soon after an antagonist sheriff was appointed by David II.; and, during the revolutions of that age, sheriffs continued to be conflictingly or alternately appointed by the respective monarchs according to the fluctuations of their power. During all the period of David's captivity, Edward III. nominated sheriffs, and governed as he pleased. As the shire, with the exception of Roxburgh Castle, was freed from the English yoke, chiefly by the exertions of the Douglases, it afterwards, as to its sheriffship or administration, generally followed their fortunes. In 1398 the sheriffship of the county and the lands of Cavers were granted to George, Earl of Angus, who died in 1402; and having passed to Isobel, Countess of Mar, they were, without the consent of the king, transferred by her to the Earl of Douglas. Robert III., conceiving that they had become escheated by being disposed of without his consent, conferred them, in 1405, on Sir David Fleming of Biggar. But James Douglas of Balveny, the second son of the Earl Douglas, soon after assassinated the new sheriff, and paved the way, amidst the afflictions of the king and the subsequent misrule of the Duke of Albany, for the Douglases to domineer over the county with the utmost freedom from control. The sheriffship of the county was now, with the lands of Cavers, transferred to Archibald, a bastard son of James, the second Earl of Douglas; and it continued in his family, though probably with some interruptions, till the date of the abolition of hereditary jurisdictions. Archibald Douglas, brother of Douglas of Cavers, claimed in 1747 a compensation of £10, 000 for the sheriffship, and was allowed £1666, 13s. 4d.

In early times the major part of Roxburghshire, then included in Northumbria, belonged to the diocese of Lindisfarne. From the reign of David I. till the Reformation, all of it S of the Tweed belonged to the bishopric of Glasgow; and from 1238 this large section formed the archdeaconry of Teviotdale, and was ruled by its own archdeacon under the superintendence of the bishop.

Famous Natives.—Among the natives of this county who have risen to more or less fame, the following may be noted-William Turnbull (died 1454), Bishop successively of Dunkeld and Glasgow, and founder in 1451 of Glasgow College; Alexander Cairncross of Cumbesley (d. 1701), Archbishop of Glasgow; John Rutherford (d. 1577), scholastic philosopher and author of The Art of Reasoning on Aristotelian Principles; Mark Duncan, Principal of Saumur University (d. 1648); Samuel Rutherford (d. 1661); James Thomson (1700-48), the author of The Seasons, etc.; Gilbert Elliot (1722-77), poet; and his sister Jane Elliot (1727-1805), who wrote the Flowers of the Forest; John Armstrong (1709-79), physician and poet; James Brown (1709-88), linguist and traveller, and author of a Persian grammar and dictionary; Robert Riccaltoun (d. 1765), divine; William Turnbull (1729-96), London physician; John Buchan (d. 1805), physician, author of the Domestic Medicine; John Clark (1744-1805), surgeon; John Leyden (1775-1811), poet; Robert Hall (1 763-1824), surgeon; Rev. Dr Thomas Somerville (1741-1830), author of a History of the Reign of Queen Anne; his niece and daughter-in-law, Mrs Mary Somerville (1780-1872), of mathematical fame; James Bell (1769- 1833), weaver and editor of geographical works; Robert Edmonstone (1794-1834), painter; Thomas Pringle (1789-1834), poet; Andrew Scott (1757-1839), poet; Robert Balmer (1787-1844), divine; Robert Davidson (d. 1855), poet; John Younger (d. 1860), prose essayist; James Telfer (1800-62), author; and Thomas Aird (1802-76), poet.

See Alex. Jeffrey's History of Roxburghshire (1836; new ed., 4 vols., 1857-64); Robert Bruce Armstrong's History of Liddesdale (1884); and other works cited under Abbotsford, Castleton, Hawick, Jedburgh, Kelso, Melrose, Tweed, and Yetholm.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better