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Ayton

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.

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Ayton (anc. Eitun, ` Eye-town '), a village and a coast parish of Berwickshire. The village stands near the left bank of Eye Water, 2¼ miles inland and ½ mile NW of Ayton station on the North British, this being 7¼ miles NW by W of Berwick-upon-Tweed and 49¾ ESE of Edinburgh. A pleasant, well-built place, it has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments, branches of the Commercial and Royal Banks, gas-works, 3 inns, a volunteer hall, 2 saw-mills, and a tannery. Thursday is market-day, and justice of peace courts are held on the first Thursday of every month but September; sheriff small debt courts on the first Monday of February, the second Monday of May, the Tuesday before the last Friday of July, and the first Thursday of October. Places of worship are the parish church (750 sittings) and two U.P. churches- Summerhill (561 sittings) and Springbank (350 sittings; rebuilt, for £1210, in 1872). The parish church, erected (1864-66) at a cost of £7000, is a beautiful First Pointed structure, with nave, S aisle, transept, and chancel, a SW spire 120 feet high, and stained-glass chancel and transept windows. Pop. (1831) 663, (1861) 875, (1871) 745, (1881) 825.

The parish contains also the fishing village of Burnmouth, 27/8 miles to the E. Bounded N by Coldingham and Eyemouth, E by the German Ocean, SE by Mordington, S by Foulden, and W by Chirnside and Coldingham, it has an utmost length and breadth of 3½ miles and an area of 6832 acres, of which 105¾ are foreshore and 27 water. The coast, about 3 miles long, forms an almost continuous but much-indented precipice, rising, from N to S, to 71 feet near Nestends, 149 on Gunsgreenhill, 160 at Scout Point, 339 near Hurker, 310 on Burnmouth Hill, and 170 at Ross. The cliffs are pierced by two or three caverns, accessible only from the sea, and famous in smuggling annals; three islets at the northern extremity, during strong easterly gales, drive the waves up in sheets of foam to a height of from 70 to 100 feet. The SE portion of the interior presents an assemblage of softly-contoured, richly-wooded hills, the highest of them Ayton Hill (654 feet) 15/8 mile SE of the village, whilst lesser eminences are Millerton Hill, Bastleridge (375), Ayton Cocklaw (315), Flemington (275), and Redhall (320). The NW portion between the Eye and the Ale, though lower is everywhere undulating, attaining 251 feet near Aytonwood House, 291 in the Drill plantation, and 297 on the Coldingham border. The Eye runs 1¾ mile south-eastward near or upon the western boundary, till, striking north-eastward, it winds for 2½ miles through the interior, next for 1½ mile along the Eyemouth border to the sea. Its scenery here is very pretty and varied, as, too, is that of the tributary Ale, which flows 3¼ miles east-south-eastward along the Coldingham and Eyemouth confines, and of the North British railway, which curves 41/8 miles from W to SE through Ayton. The rocks, Silurian and Devonian, exhibit all sorts of inclinations, curvatures, and contortions, as seen in the cliffs, and furnish good building stone and road metal. The soils range from loamy to gravelly, are mostly as fertile as any in the shire, and overlie great quantities of boulders and course gravel. Plantations cover some 800 acres; between 200 and 300 are in pasture; and all the rest are highly cultivated. Traces of five camps, ascribed to Romans, Picts, Saxons, and Danes, and remains of an ancient Romanesque parish church, make up the antiquities; of the castle founded by the Norman baron De Vesci, and demolished in 1498 by the Earl of Surrey, no vestige now exists. Modern mansions, with owners and the extent and yearly value of their Berwickshire estates, are:-Ayton Castle, ½ mile NE of the village (Alex. Mitchell-Innes, 5780 acres, £10,950); Peelwalls, 1¼ S by W (Jn. Allan, 701 acres, £1720); Netherbyres, 2½ miles NNE (Major Jn. Ramsay L'Amy, 65 acres, £229); and Gunsgreen, 3 miles NNE, opposite Eyemouth (Patr. Home, 520 acres, £852). Of these, Ayton Castle is a splendid Baronial edifice of reddish stone, built in 1851 on the site of a predecessor destroyed by fire in 1834, and standing out prominently from its surrounding woods. In all 8 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 6 of between £100 and £500,3 of from £50 to £100, and 33 of from £20 to £50. Ayton is in the presbytery of Chirnside and synod of Merse and Teviotdale; the living is worth £443. Two public schools, Ayton and Burnmouth, with respective accommodation for 265 and 85 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 180 and 89, and grants of £126, 6s. 4d. and £78, 9s. Valuation (1881) £17,045,12s. 9d. Pop. (1755) 797, (1801) 1453, (1841) 1784, (1861) 2014, (1871) 1983, (1881) 2037.—Ord. Sur., sh. 34, 1864.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

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

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