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Moffat

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, 2002-2016.

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Moffat (Gaelic oua-vat, 'a long, deep, mountain hollow,' or Irish mai-fad, 'a long plain'), a town in the N of the Annandale district of Dumfriesshire, and a parish, partly in Dumfriesshire and partly in Lanarkshire. The town is situated at the southern base of the Gallow Hill (832 feet) * on the left bank of the river Annan, 2 miles NNW of the point at which Moffat and Evan Waters flow into that river. It is distant 51 miles by road, but 637/8 by rail, SSW of Edinburgh; 54 by road, but 665/8 by rail, SE of Glasgow; 21 by road, but 301/8 by rail, NNE of Dumfries; 15½ by road N by W of Lockerbie, and 2 NNE of Beattock station on the main line (1848) of the Caledonian. a railway line, 15/8 mile long, which was opened in April 1883, connects Moffat with Beattock. The company has a capital of £16,000 in £10 shares. The new line, which is worked by the Caledonian Railway Company, has proved a great boon to Moffat, as it has made it much easier of access than it was when the nearest station was at Beattock. Omnibuses run between the hotels and the mineral well, and a coach goes thrice a week in the season to the famous Grey Mare's Tail and St Mary's Loch.

* Prof. George Sinclair of Glasgow, who died in 1696, ascertained the height of this hill by means of the barometer—the earliest instance probably of its application in Great Britain to this purpose.

The town is built upon a gentle slope, which rises slowly northward from 340 to 400 feet above sea-level. The High Street is the chief street, or rather 'place,' being 300 yards long and 50 broad. It is thus described in the Beauties of Scotland (1805): 'The street is wide and spacious, handsomely formed and gravelled, exceedingly smooth, clean, and dry in an hour after the heaviest rains, and is a most agreeable walk to the inhabitants, and to the company that comes for goats' whey or the mineral waters.' Since that time the High Street has been modernised by the erection of new, and the remodelling of old, buildings. It contains the principal public edifices, hotels, etc., and at one time, with the closes branching from it, composed the town of Moffat. Of late years, however, owing to the number of people visiting Moffat annually, the building of villas has been greatly encouraged, and several new streets have sprung up. Such are Well Road, Old Well Road, Beechgrove, Havelock Crescent, Academy Road, Hopetoun Place, Ballplay Road, etc. A number of villas have also been erected at the foot of the Gallow Hill.

There are in the town four places of worship belonging to the Established, Free, United Presbyterian, and Episcopal Churches. The parish church, situated in the Sb part of the town, was built in 1790, and contains 1000 sittings. It is surrounded by fine old trees, and has a handsome spire, surmounted by the 'Flying Spur,' the crest of the Johnstones of Annandale. The Free church, erected in 1843, is a large but unadorned edifice, not far from the parish church. A small spire, added later on, greatly improved its appearance. The U.P. church, in Old Well Road, was erected in 1863, and cost £3000. It is in the Decorated English or Second Pointed style, consists of nave and aisles, and has a lofty tower and spire. From its position it may be seen from almost every point of view. The Episcopal church, situated upon the Kiln Knowes, Millburnside, was built in 1872 at the expense of J. Toulmin Laurence, Esq. of Liverpool, who resided at that time in Craigieburn House. It is an iron church, but, in spite of that, is not devoid of style. Its main attraction is a beautiful stained-glass E window, erected to the memory of the Rev. W. B. Mackenzie, who was wont frequently to conduct service in the chapel.

Moffat is well supplied with schools. The Academy arose out of the union (1834) of the parish school with the old grammar school, which was founded by Dr Robert Johnstone (1557-1639), George Heriot's brother-in-law. The building, which may lay claim to some beauty, is situated at the foot of the Gallow Hill. With accommodation for 286 children, it had (1883) an average attendance of 173, and a grant of £165, 18s. 6d. The Academy furnishes a good classical education. Morison's Endowed school, in Well Road, is a simple Yet pleasing building. William Morison (1796-1837), a native of Moffat and afterwards a Calcutta merchant, left £2000 to be spent in building and endowing a school, in which, in return for a nominal fee, a substantial English education might be had. It has accommodation for 88 children, an average attendance of 52, and a grant of £26, 19s. Annan Water and Moffat Water public schools, with respective accommodation for 44 and 53 children, had (1883) an average attendance of 40 and 24, and grants of £44, 9s. and £32, 2s. There are also an industrial school and a private school.

For its size Moffat possesses a fair proportion of public buildings. The court-house, at the corner of High Street and Well Street, dates from 1772; but the bell in the turret has inscribed upon it the date 1660, along with the Johnstone arms and an earl's coronet. Some time ago the ground-floor of the court-house was turned into shops, but the upper rooms are still used by the Town Commissioners for holding courts and discharging other business in. Moffat House, beside the baths, was erected by the second Earl of Hopetoun in 1751. As the third Earl died in 1817 without heirs male, the house passed into the possession of Lady Anne Johnstone, his eldest daughter, and great-grandmother of the present holder of the house and property-Mr Hope Johnstone. (See Raehills.) It was in Moffat House that Macpherson was residing (1759) when he entered on that literary forgery which made so great a stir in the latter half of the 18th century-the fabrication of the Ossianic epics. A fine public fountain, in the upper part of the High Street, was erected by Mr Colvin of Craigielands in 1875 at a cost of £500. The design is somewhat pastoral. Upon a pedestal of roughhewn Corncockle red sandstone blocks, 16 feet in height, stands a ram in bronze, designed by the late William Brodie, R.S.A. Round the base are 4 basins of polished granite. Other buildings, which improve the appearance of the town, are the chief hotels and the banks. The baths, on the W side of High Street, beside the Annandale Arms Hotel, were erected in 1827. The front part of the building is taken up with assembly, reading, and billiard rooms, while the rear part contains the baths, which are of various descriptions-vapour, mineral, etc. The entrance to the baths is through a Doric portico. The Beechgrove grounds, laid out in 1870 at a cost of £600, comprise bowling, croquet, and lawn -tennis grounds, with an excellent pavilion. Perhaps the most striking building in Moffat is the Hydropathic Establishment, erected in the Renaissance style by Messrs Pilkington & Bell, of Edinburgh, in 187577, at a cost of fully £40,000. It is of immense size, comprising a centre and two wings, the former having turrets at either end. There are 5 floors, including the basement, and 300 bedrooms. The dining-hall can accommodate comfortably 300 guests, and the drawingroom, recreation-room, etc., are all on an equally large scale. The baths are of a very perfect description, embracing Turkish, vapour, etc., and the grounds, 25 acres in extent, are beautifully laid out. There are lawns for tennis and croquet, as well as a bowling-green. Moffat has a head post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments; branches of the Bank of Scotland, the Union Bank, and the British Linen Company's Bank, offices or agencies of 14 insurance companies, 3 chief hotels, numerous lodginghouses of all classes, a subscription library, with over 4000 volumes, and a Saturday newspaper-The Moffat Times (1857). During the season concerts, lectures, etc., are given in the Baths Assembly Hall, which is also used for public meetings and by the band of the Upper Annandale Rifle Volunteers. The building which served as the Episcopal chapel before the new chapel was built in 1872 is now used as an Oddfellows' Hall, and there is also a Mechanics' Hall in Well Street. A weekly market is held at Moffat every Friday; a lamb fair is held on the Friday of July after Langholm fair; a fair for sheep and cattle, held on the Friday of September after Falkirk Tryst, is known as the Tup Fair; and hiring fairs are held on the third Friday of March old style, and the Friday after 19 Oct. Shows of sheep, cattle, flowers, etc., are connected with the Tup Fair, and draw many to Moffat owing to the high class of the exhibits. The great annual sale of Cheviot rams, at the Beattock Bridge Hotel, on the day before the Moffat tup fair, may also be mentioned. The shops in Moffat are, as a rule, of a superior class, the shopkeepers being induced to deal in luxuries as well as necessaries to meet the wants of visitors. The wells in the neighbourhood of Moffat are three in number-Garpol Spa, 3 miles SW; Hartfell Spa, 5 miles NNE; and Moffat Well, 1¼ mile NNE of the town of Moffat. The first two are separately described. According to the commonly received story, Moffat Well was found in 1633 by Miss Rachel Whiteford, only daughter of Dr Whiteford, bishop of Brechin, who held a considerable amount of property in the parishes of Moffat and Kirkpatrick-Juxta. But, in a work entitled Fons Moffetensis, seu Descriptio Topographico-Spagyrica Fontium Mineralium Moffetensium in Annandia, published in 1659, the author, Matthew Mackaile, asserts that the wells were first discovered in 1653 by a 'valetudinary rustic.' The mineral qualities of the well were also noted by Sir Robert Sibbald in 1683; by George Milligan and Andrew Plummer, M.D., professor of medicine, University of Edinburgh, in 1747; by Dr Garnett in 1800; by J. Erskine Gibson in 1827; by Dr Thomas Thomson, of Glasgow, in 1828; by Dr John Macadam, of Glasgow, in 1854; by Mr William Johnstone, of Edinburgh, in 1874; and by others.

The following analysis is that of Dr Murray Thomson, which is among the latest and most trustworthy:—

Lower
Well
1.37 cubic inches of sulphuretted hydrogen gas
4.46 ,, carbonic acid gas.
96.16 grains of solid residue on evaporation.
—-  
4.60 ,, carbonate of lime.
7.70 ,, chloride of calcium.
6.41 ,, chloride of magnesium.
69.00 ,, chloride of sodium.
2.55 ,, silica.
5.80 ,, organic matter.
—-  
96.06  
Traces also exist of carbonate of iron, alumina, Chloride of magnesia, sulphuret of sodium.
Upper
Well
0.35 cubic inch of sulphuretted hydrogen gas, traces of carbonic acid gas.
54.60 grains of solid residue on evaporation.
—-  
8.32 ,, chloride of calcium
1.46 ,, chloride of magnesium
34.11 ,, chloride of sodium
3.56 ,, sulphate of soda
1.81 ,, silica
4.70 ,, organic matter
—-  
53.96  
Traces also exist of oxide of iron and oxide of copper.

The temperature of the Moffat mineral water is very steady, as was proved by experiments made in 1852-53. From these it appeared that the temperature at all seasons of the year, and under all changes of the atmosphere, is 49½° Fahr. With regard to the smell, taste, and appearance of the water opinions vary. One writer describes the smell and taste as resembling 'bilge-water, or the scourings of a foul gun . . . like sulphureous water of Harrowgate, but not quite so strong.' Another compares them to the smell and taste of a 'slightly putrescent egg.' The taste is almost invariably disagreeable at first, though, it is said, some grow to like it after a time. The appearance is described in one account as 'sparkling beautifully, especially when first taken from the spring;' in another as 'like champagne;' and a third says, 'the water is never decidedly sparkling. It does assume a certain degree of cloudiness from the uniform diffusion through it of very minute gaseous globules.' The Moffat water has been pronounced by doctors a powerful remedy in diseases of the skin, on account of the sulphur and salts held in solution in it. It is also valuable as a means of cure in affections of the lungs, in gravel, rheumatism, dyspepsia, biliousness, etc.

The Moffat Well has enjoyed a growing popularity as is shown by the number of people who visit the town annually 'to drink the waters.' The favourite time for doing so is between seven and nine o'clock in the morning, when the road between the town and the spa is covered with people on foot, in carriages, and omnibuses. It is almost the invariable custom to partake of the waters at the well itself, since the gases, with which they are impregnated are of so volatile a nature that even the most careful corking is unable to retain them. The well is situated on the slope of one side of a small valley, down which flows the Well Burn, a small stream, so named from the well beside it. It consists of two springs, an upper and a lower, the latter of which, more strongly impregnated with sulphur and salts, is used for drinking purposes, while the water of the former, conveyed to the town in pipes, is employed in the mineral baths, recommended in certain cases. The well is covered by a small stone building, near which are the cottage of the keeper, a building in which balls and public breakfasts used to be held, and a wooden erection with a verandah, built for the convenience of visitors. The appearance of the well is thus described by Turnbull in his History of Moffat:-'On reaching the well, many circumstances strongly indicate the sulphureous nature of the water. The water itself has the characteristic odour of such waters, while the metal stop-cock attached to the pipe, which delivers the supply, is coated with a black shining sulphuret . . . The small openings in the rock, from which the water of the upper well issues, are alone visible; those of the lower being built over with a fixed pipe, communicator, and stop-cock, to draw off the water at pleasure. The upper apertures are encrusted with a yellowish-white substance, which, when ignited, yields a blue flame, and has the same smell as burning sulphur.' The water oozes out of a rock of greywacke, containing pyrites. It was thought at one time that the taste of sulphur was so far due to a bog in the neighbourhood, but the fact that the bog has disappeared and the sulphur taste still remains, is sufficient to discredit that theory. The presence of sulphur, in the form of iron pyrites, in the rocks that surrounded the well, as also in that form which the mineral spring flows, is enough to account for the way and the extent to which the water is impregnated. Moffat became a burgh of barony and regality in 1635. There is still in existence a burgh charter, dated 1662, by which the barony and regality of Moffat, and of the burgh which stood within it, are transferred to James, Earl of Annandale. This charter was ratified by an Act of Parliament in 1669. When the rights of lords of regalities were done away with, some supposed that Moffat ceased to enjoy those rights which, as a burgh, it had possessed. This was a mistake, however, as was shown by the proprietors of the Moffat Times and others (1857), and, as a result, the boundaries of the burgh, as well as its common lands, were marked on the Ordnance Map. Moffat adopted the General Police and Improvement Act in 1864, and, under it, is governed by a senior magistrate, 2 junior magistrates, and 6 commissioners. The burgh court sits on the first Saturday of every month, and sheriff small debt courts are held on the first Friday of April, August, and December. Pop. (1841) 1413, (1861) 1463, (1871) 1730, (1881) 2161, of whom 1231 were females. Houses (1881) 471 inhabited, 32 vacant, 11 building.

When Moffat was founded is not known, but it must have been at a somewhat early date, as mention is made of the town in the 11th and 12th centuries. From one notice, it would appear that the present town was preceded by another, called Auldtoun, but this is doubtful. The town is named, however, in a charter granted by Robert I. (1306-29) to Adae Barbitonsorie, and in another granted by David II. (1329-71) to Robert Lage. In Dec. 1332, the army of Edward Baliol, who had been crowned King of Scotland about two months before, encamped at Moffat. Baliol remained there for a time, attempting to win over the lords of that district of Annandale. From Moffat he passed with his army to Annan Moor, and was attacked-by night, surprised, and defeated by Sir Archibald Douglas, who had gathered 1000 horsemen at Moffat, and had come suddenly down upon his encampment. Many Scottish knights and nobles were slain; Baliol's army was dispersed in all directions; and he himself was compelled to flee to England. The well-known 'Three Stan'in' Stanes' on the Beattock road, 1 mile S by W of Moffat, have been supposed to indicate either the place where the battle took place, or the spot where three officers fell. Both suppositions are improbable, and it is more likely that they are of Druidic origin. In l448, while William, seventh Earl of Douglas, warden of the West Marches, was absent, the burgh of Dumfries was burned. As a consequence, he convened 'a meeting of the whole lords, freeholders, and heads of Border families within the Wardency,' in order that steps might be taken to prevent a surprise occurring again. One way, proposed and carried out, was that 'balefires' should be kindled on suitable hills in Annandale and Nithsdale. The Gallow Hill at Moffat was chosen as one of these hills, as is recorded in the Acts of the Scottish Parliament, vol. i., 'Ane baill sall be brynt on Gallowhill in Moffat Parochin.' In this connection, the war-cry of the inhabitants of Moffat-'Aye ready, aye ready'-may be mentioned.

Moffat again appears in the history of Scotland in the time of the Covenanters. The district round about it is full of memories of that period and of those who lived in it. Claverhouse, afterwards Viscount Dundee, sent a report from Moffat, dated 28 Dec. 1678, to the Earl of Linlithgow, Commander-in-chief of His Majesty's Forces, in which he described that town as among 'the most convenient places for quartering dragoons. . . . whereby the whole country may be kept in awe.' In the mountains and valleys in the neighbourhood of Moffat the Covenanters were accustomed to lie hid, to hold conventicles, and to elude the pursuit of their enemies. In quieter times, and with the growing popularity of the Wells, Moffat made rapid advances. In 1704 it is spoken of as 'a small straggling town' to which people come to drink the waters. The writer, however, goes on to say-'But what sort of people they are, or where they get lodgings, I can't tell, for I did not like their lodgings well enough to go to bed, but got such as I could to refresh me, and so came away.' In 1745 it must have contained better accommodation, as it was then the favourite summer resort of two well-known Edinburgh physicians, who visited it in turn yearly, and, by their presence, attracted many of their patients to the town. The names of these doctors were Dr Sinclair and Dr John Clerk.

In the latter half of the 18th century, however, Moffat became more conspicuous. It was visited by men like John Home, author of the play of Douglas; David Hume, philosopher, historian, and agnostic; James Macpherson, the fabricator of Ossian's poems; Dr Alexander Carlyle, of Inveresk; James Boswell, the famous biographer; Joseph Black, the well-known professor of chemistry in Edinburgh University; Dr Blacklock, the blind poet; Hugh Blair, the divine; and many others, whose presence and whose name were sufficient to draw others to the place where they happened to be. An interesting event connected with the visit to Moffat of Home and Macpherson is narrated in the Account of the Life and Writings of John Home, by Henry Mackenzie (Edinb. 1822). Mackenzie's work contains a letter of Dr Adam Ferguson, which tells how that Home and Macpherson met at the bowling-green, and soon became intimate. The subject of traditionary poetry in the Highlands was discussed, and Macpherson promised to translate some fragments which were in his possession. These, according to the letter, 'were afterwards printed in a pamphlet, and drew that public attention which gave rise to the further proceeding on the subject.' The name of Burns is also connected with the town. He visited it frequently, and in it he wrote the famous song-

'O, Willie brewed a peck o' maut
And Rab and Allan cam' to pree,
Three blither hearts that lee-lang night
Ye wadna find in Christendee.'

And here he composed, in addition to many other poems, &c., the epigram called An Apology for Scrimpit Nature.

Since the 19th century began, the progress of Moffat has been both rapid and continuous. New buildings have been erected; fine streets have been laid out; a water supply of 288,000 gallons per diem was brought in to the town at a cost of £5000 in 1867; a new system of sewerage was then also carried out; a cemetery, 3 acres in extent, and ¾ mile NW of the town, was beautifully laid out in 1872 at a cost of £700; and the town has been lighted with gas. These and other improvements have tended to make Moffat very popular, and have given it almost a right to the names which have been applied to it of the Cheltenham or Baden of Scotland.* A proof of the healthiness of Moffat may be found in the fact that, when Asiatic cholera was raging at Dumfries (only 21 miles distant), Moffat was practically entirely spared.

* William Black, in his Strange Adventures of a Phaeton (1872), observes that 'if Moffat is to be likened to Baden-Baden. it forms an exceedingly Scotch and respectable Baden-Baden. The building. in which the mineral waters are drunk looks somewhat like an educational institution, with its prim white iron railings. Inside, instead of the splendid saloon of the Conversationshaus. we found a long and sober-looking reading-room. Moffat itself is a white, clean, wide-streeted place, and the hills around it are smooth and green; but it is very far removed from Baden-Baden. It is a good deal more proper, and a great deal more dull. Perhaps we did not visit it in the height of the season, if it has got a season; but we were at all events not very sorry to get away from it again, and out into the hilly country beyond.'

Moffat has been the place of birth and of residence of some distinguished Scotchmen. Among those born there, the following may be mentioned:-Sir Archibald Johnstone, Lord Warriston (1610-63), is described by M'Crie as 'a profound and accomplished lawyer, an eloquent speaker, and a man of the most active habits,' who 'took a prominent share in the proceedings of the Covenanters, and was among the chief leaders in promoting the league between Scotland and England.' He was created Lord Advocate (1646), Lord Register (1649), and one of Cromwell's peers; at the Restoration took refuge in France; but was brought back to Edinburgh and executed. William Dickson, LL.D. (1749-1821), actively assisted Wilberforce in his attempt to do away with slavery. Dickson was the translator of Carnot's Treatise on the Calculus (1801), and the editor of a reprint of Garnett's Observations on the Moffat Waters (1820). He died in London, and left a collection of scientific works to the Moffat Library. David Welsh, D.D. (1793-1845), was Professor of Church History in Edinburgh University (1831). He wrote the Life of Dr Thomas Brown and An Introduction to the Elements of Church History. Walter Boyd (1760-1842) was the chief partner of the firm of Boyd, Benfield, & Co., bankers, London and Paris. He sat as M.P. for Shaftesbury in the first Imperial Parliament.

Among those connected with Moffat by residence we may note the following:-John Rogerson, M.D. (17411823), a famous physician, who acted as first medical adviser to the Empress and court of Russia, purchased in 1805 the estate of Dumcrieff, and resided upon it from 1816 till his death. John Loudon Macadam (17561836), the inventor of that process of road-making, known as 'macadamising,' resided at Dumcrieff for some time, and after a life of hard work, died at Moffat, and was buried in its churchyard. John Finlay (1782-1810), author of Wallace, or the Vale of Ellerslie, Historical and Romantic Ballads (1808), etc., was a poet of great promise, whose life was cut short by a sudden illness at Moffat, where he lies buried. John Walker, D.D., known, owing to his eccentricities, as the 'mad minister of Moffat,' was a churchman of some note in his day. He was presented to Moffat parish in 1762, was translated to Colinton parish in 1783, and died in 1803. Dr Walker wrote several books, his favourite subject being natural history.

The parish of Moffat is bounded N by Tweedsmuir in Peeblesshire, NE by Lyne and Megget in Peeblesshire and Ettrick in Selkirkshire, E by Ettrick and Eskdalemuir, SE by Wamphray, SW by Kirkpatrick-Juxta, and W and NW by Crawford in Lanarkshire. Its utmost length, from ENE to WSW, is 14¾ miles; its utmost breadth is 8½ miles; and its area is 43,170 acres, of which 3119 are in Lanarkshire and 40,051 in Dumfriesshire, whilst 205 are water. The parish is traversed by three roads, leading respectively to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Selkirk, and by a section of the Caledonian railway, as well as by part of the Beattock and Moffat branch. Moffat is rich in features of natural beauty. River, loch, mountain, valley, combine to render it one of the most picturesque parishes in the South of Scotland.

The Annan, rising at an altitude of 1270 feet on the northern border, near the meeting-point of Peebles, Lanark, and Dumfries shires, and not far from sources of the Tweed and Clyde, flows 85/8 miles south-south-eastward-for 31/8 miles through the north-western interior, and then along or close to the boundary with Kirkpatrick-Juxta. It is fed by several small streams -Birnock Water, Frenchland Burn, etc., and is joined, 2 miles below Moffat, by Moffat Water on the E and Evan Water on the W. Moffat Water, rising at an altitude of 1800 feet in the north-eastern corner of the parish, close to the Selkirkshire boundary, flows 12½ miles south-westward through the parish. It is fed by the following streams:-on the right bank, Tail Burn, flowing from Loch Skene, and Carrifran, Blackhope, and Craigie Burns; on the left bank, Bodesbeck, Sailfoot, Selcoth, Crofthead, and Cornal Burns. EVAN Water, which rises in Lanarkshire, flows for 3¼ miles south-south-eastward through the western wing of Moffat, and then passes off into Kirkpatrick-Juxta. Garpol Water, too, flows 2¼ miles eastward on the boundary with Kirkpatrick-Juxta. The only lake in the parish is 'dark Loch skene ' (6 x 12/3 furl.; 1700 feet), 11¼ miles NNE of Moffat.

Moffat parish is very mountainous. The chief mountains are—on the Peeblesshire boundary, Great Hill (1527 feet), Spout Craig (1842), Barry Grain Rig (2012), Hartfell (2651), Hartfell Rig (2422), Raven Craig (2246), Lochcraig Head (2625); on the Selkirkshire boundary, Andrewhinney Hill (2220), Ben Craig (2046), Bodesbeck Law (2173), Capel Fell (2223), Wind Fell (2180); on the boundaries with Eskdalemuir, Wamphray, and Kirkpatrick-Juxta parishes, Loch Fell (2256), Crofthead (2085), Gateshaw Rig (1853); on the Lanarkshire boundary, Mosshope Fell (1567), Beld Knowe (1661), Campland Hill (1571), Black Fell (1528). The parish of Moffat is thus girdled with mountains of higher or lower elevation. The interior of the parish, especially in the N, is, however, almost as mountainous as are the parts bordering on other parishes. Carrifran (2452 feet), Saddle Yoke (2412), Arthur's Seat (2398), Swatte Fell (2388), and White Coomb (2695), may be cited as among the loftiest. The Southern Alps, as the mountains in Moffat parish and the surrounding district are sometimes called, differ from the Highland mountains in being, as a rule, covered with grass up to the very summit. This naturally gives them the appearance of being less rugged and bare than the ranges in the north of Scotland. The valleys through which the Annan and Moffat: and Evan Waters flow are very narrow, especially in their upper parts. In some places there is barely room for the roads to pass along the bottom of the valleys. As might be expected, they are extremely picturesque. To quote once more from the Strange Adventures of a Phaeton, Mr William Black gives a fine description of the vale of the Annan above the town. 'That was a pretty drive up through Annandale. As you leave Moffat the road gradually ascends into the region of the hills; and down below you lies a great valley, with the river Annan running through it, and the town of Moffat itself getting smaller in the distance. You catch a glimmer of the blue peaks of Westmoreland lying far away in the south, half hid amid silver haze. The hills around you increase in size, and you would not recognise the bulk of the great round slopes but for those minute dots that you can make out to be sheep, and for an occasional wasp-like creature that you suppose to be a horse. The evening draws in. The yellow light on the slopes of green becomes warmer. You arrive at a great circular chasm which is called by the country-folks the Devil's or Marquis of Annandale's Beef-tub-a mighty hollow, the western sides of which are steeped in a soft purple shadow, while the eastern slopes burn yellow in the sunlight. There is no house, not even a farmhouse near; and all traces of Moffat and its neighbourhood have long been left out of sight. But what is the solitude of this place to the wild and lofty region you enter, when you reach the summits of the hills?' etc.

In Moffat parish the soil in the valleys is mainly alluvial; on the lower slopes of the hills it is light, dry gravel. A considerable part of the land is in tillage; but the main part is pasture land. There are a few woods of some extent-the Craigieburn, Bellcraig, and Dumcrieff woods may be mentioned. In the uplands the rocks are Silurian; greywacke, containing quartz, sandstone, and gypsum are found; but coal, copper, and limestone, though sought for, have not been discovered.

The parish contains several objects of antiquarian interest. There is an old British fort, 2½ miles from Moffat, on the top of Beattock Hill, and two other forts, not far distant from the town. Cornal Tower, the 'keep' of the Pocornal estate, is a small ruin. Blacklaw Tower is a good example of a border peelhouse. Portions of the walls remain, and attest to the strength of the building. In addition to these, the parish also contains other border towers of a like character. Places, noted for their beauty or wildness, are the glen of Bell Craig, in which many rare ferns grow; the Basin of Blackshope, the Deil's Beef-tub, or, as it is sometimes called, the Marquis of Annandale's Beef-Stand; the famous waterfall, called the Grey Mare's Tail; Loch Skene, Erickstane, etc.

Mansions, noticed separately, are Craigieburn and Dumcrieff; and Mr Hope Johnstone is chief proprietor. Moffat is in the presbytery of Lochmaben and synod of Dumfries; the living is worth £460. The ancient church of Moffat was transferred in 1174 by Robert de Bruce to the bishop of Glasgow, and was afterwards constituted one of the prebends of the see. A chapel once existed between the Annan and the Evan, at the place still called Chapel. Valuation (1860) £13,251, (1884) £30,071, 5s. 10d. Pop. (1801) 1610, (1831) 2221, (1861) 2232, (1871) 2543, (1881) 2930, of whom 21 were in Lanarkshire.—Ord. Sur., sh. 16, 1864. See W. R. Turnbull's History of Moffat (Edinb. 1871); Black's Guide to Moffat (4th ed. 1882); and Fairfoul's Guide to Moffat (Moffat, 1877).

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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