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Ancrum

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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Ancrum, a village and a parish of Roxburghshire. The village stands upon rising ground, on the right bank of the river Ale, ¾ mile N of its influx to the Teviot, being 2 miles W of Jedfoot Bridge station, and 3½ miles NNW of Jedburgh, under which it has a post and telegraph office. Its original name was Alnecrom, signifying ' the crook of the Alne, '-as the Ale was anciently called: and that name is exactly descriptive of the situation, on a bold sharp curve of the river. The surrounding scenery is softly pictures ; and the present village, though most of its buildings are modern, wears a somewhat decayed appearance, and dates from a considerable antiquity. A Caledonian fort stood near it a monastic establishment of some kind was founded at it by David I.: faint vestiges exist of its so-called Maltan Walls, a preceptory of the Knights of Malta: and a 13th century cross, supposed to have been originally surmounted by the arms of Scotland, stands in the middle of its green. This village was long called Nether Ancrum, to distinguish it from the now extinct hamlet of Over Ancrum, and both were burned to the ground during the hostilities connected with Hertford's raid in 1545. Pop. (1861) 538, (1871) 412.

The parish contains also the hamlets of Longnewton and Belses, the latter with a station on the North British, 3¾ miles W of the village, 45¼ SE of Edinburgh, and 7½ NE of Hawick: and it includes the old parish of Longnewton, annexed in 1684. It is bounded NW by St Boswells, NE by Maxton, E by Crailing, SE by Jedburgh and Bedrule, SW by Minto, and W by Lilliesleaf and Bowden. Its length from N to S is 4¼ miles: its greatest breadth is 4½ miles: and its area is 10,389 acres, of which 93½ are water. The Ale in ' many a loop and link, ' flows through the parish from WNW to ESE: and the Teviot, to the length of some 4¼ miles, roughly traces all the south-eastern border. Both rivers afford abundant sport to the angler for salmon and for trout, and also are haunted by otters. The surface, throughout the NW, in the quondam parish of Longnewton, is flat and tame: but elsewhere, along the Ale, and southward to the Teviot, though containing no prominent hills, rises into considerable eminences, the chief of which from N to S are Ancrum Moor (771 feet), Woodhead (501), Hopton (531), Ancrumcraig (629), Troneyhill (755), and Chesters Moor (585). The tract along the Ale, in particular, exhibits steep rugged rocks, part naked, part richly wooded, overhanging the river's course, and shows a succession of picturesque and romantic scenery. Sandstone, of two colours, the one red, the other white, and both of superior quality for building purposes, is quarried. The soil, in the lower grounds toward the Teviot, is chiefly a fertile loam: on the flat grounds, both in the north and near the Ale, is a rich though stiffish clay: and on the higher grounds and the northern declivities, is of moorish quality on a cold clay bottom. About 7500 acres are under cultivation, and upwards of 800 are in wood. Ancrum House (Sir William Scott, seventh Bart. since 1671, and owner of 2131 acres in the shire) stands near the site of the ancient village of Over Ancrum, and of a rural palace of the Bishop of Glasgow, and was a fine old Border mansion, commanding a noble view of Teviotdale away to the Cheviot Mountains, and surrounded by an extensive deer-park, with craggy knolls and grand old trees. Its central and older portion, built in 1558 by Robert Kerr of Fernieherst, was, with later additions, totally destroyed by fire on 3 Dec. 1873, the damage being estimated at £35,000. The mansion has been since rebuilt in Scottish Baronial style. Chesters House, situated on the Teviot, is a large handsome edifice, erected about the beginning of this century and Kirklands, on a wooded height above the Ale, is a modern Elizabethan structure. Fifteen caves occur along the rocky banks of the Ale above Ancrum House, all at the least accessible spots, artificially hewn, provided with fire-places, and thought to have served for hiding-places during the Border- raids. One of them was a favourite retreat of the author of The Seasons, who was a frequent inmate of Ancrum Manse, and is known as ' Thomson's Cave, ' his name being carved on its roof, it is said, by his own hand. Remains of a Caledonian stone circle existed within this century at Harestanes, near Mounteviot, but all its stones save one have been removed: and a Roman road skirts Anerum Moor, 1¾ mile NW of the village, which moor was the scene of one of the last great conflicts in the international war between Scotland and England. An English army, 5000 strong, under Sir Ralph Evers and Sir Bryan Latoun, in 1544, overran and wasted the Scottish Border northward to Melrose. Returning with their booty, they were overtaken at Ancrum Moor and utterly routed by a Scottish force under the Earl of Angus and Soott of Buccleuch. Lilliard, a maid of Teviotdale, made desperate by the loss of her lover, fought in the Scottish ranks till she fell beneath many wounds: and she has bequeathed to part of the battlefield the name of Lilliard's Edge. A monument, now broken and defaced, stands on the spot, and bore this legend,-

'Fair Maiden Lilliard lies under this stane;
Little was her stature, but great was her fame;
Upon the English loons she laid mony thumps,
And when her legs were cuttid off, she fought upon her stumps.'

Ancrum was the birthplace of Dr William Buchan (1729-1805), a medical writer: perhaps, too, of the Rev. John Home (1722-1808), the author of Douglas, this honour being also claimed for Leith. Among its ministers was the Rev. John Livingston (1603-72), one of the commissioners sent to confer with Charles II. at Breda in 1650. Seven landowners hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 4 of between £100 and £500, 5 of from £50 to £100, and 8 of from £20 to £50. In the presbytery of Jedburgh and synod of Merse and Teviotdale, this parish has an Established church, built in 1762, repaired in 1832, and containing 520 sittings: the minister's income is £432. There is also a Free church: and at Ancrum and Sandystones are public schools, which, with respective accommodation for 153 and 78 children, had an average attendance (1879) of 112 and 67, and grants of £59,18s. 6d. and £20, 18s. 9d. Valuation (1880) of lands, £14,162, 15s. 4d of railway, £1601. Pop. (1831) 1454, (1861) 1511, (1871) 1391, (1881) 1365.—Ord. Sur., shs. 17, 24, 1864-65.

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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