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Parish of Fala and Soutra

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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1791-99: Fala and Soutra
1834-45: Fala and Soutra

Fala and Soutra, a united parish of Edinburgh and Haddington shires, containing in its Fala or Midlothian portion the village of Fala, whose post office is Blackshiels, and which stands 3½ miles SE of Pathhead, 15½ SE of Edinburgh, and 3¾ ENE of Tynehead station. The parish, containing also part of the hamlet of Fala Dam, ¾ mile to the NW, is bounded NE by Humbie, SE by Channelkirk in Berwickshire, S by Stow, SW by Heriot, W by detached sections of Stow, Borthwick, Cranston, and Humbie, and NW by Crichton. Its utmost length, from NNE to SSW, is 5 miles; its breadth, from WNW to ESE, varies between 1 mile and 3 /8 miles; and its area is 6066¾ acres, of which 3126½ belong to the Edinburghshire or Fala portion, and 2940¼ to the Haddingtonshire or Soutra portion. By Brothershiels Burn, Dean Burn, and East Water, Fala is parted from Soutra; and Armit Water runs south-south-westward towards the Gala along most of the Channelkirk border. In the extreme N the surface Declines to 600 feet above sea-level, thence rising to 819 near Fala village, 1209 at Soutra Hill, and 1250 at Upper Brotherstone. The whole is upland, then; but the northern section, comprising somewhat less than half of the entire area, is gently undulating, fertile, and well cultivated, whilst the southern mainly consists of the westernmost part of the Lammermuirs, and, with the exception of a few arable patches, is all of it one great sheep-walk. The rocks are mainly Silurian; and the soil in general is thin and gravelly. A large moss, Fala Flow, 1¾ mile SSW of the village, has been considerably reduced by draining since 1842, but still supplies great quantities of peat. Peel towers stood at Fala Hall and Gilston; but the chief antiquity, an ancient hospice, is separately noticed under Soutra. A mansion is Woodcot, 1¾ mile E by S of the village; and 4 proprietors hold each an annual value of more, 2 of less, than £500. This parish is in the presbytery of Dalkeith and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; the living is worth £233. The church, at the village, is a plain old building, containing 250 sittings. There is also a U.P. church (1787; 250 sittings); and a public school, with accommodation for 80 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 64, and a grant of £64, 2s. 8d. Valuation (1882) £2697, 18s. Pop. (1801) 354, (1831) 437, (1861) 382, (1871) 364, (1881) 312, of whom 111 were in Soutra.—Ord. Sur., shs. 33, 25, 1863-65.

Soutra, an ancient parish on the SW border of Haddingtonshire, annexed since 1589 to the contiguous parish of Fala in Edinburghshire. The hospital and church of ` Soltre ' stood near the top of Soutra Hill (1209 feet), 5¾ miles SE of Pathhead, 6 E by S of Tynehead station (only 3 5/8 as the crow flies), and 16¾ SE of Edinburgh. The hospital was founded by Malcolm IV., in or a little before 1164, for pilgrims, travellers, and poor folk, and was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Mary of Gueldres annexed its lands to Trinity College, Edinburgh, in 1462; and after the Reformation its church ceased to be maintained as a distinct parochial charge, and the buildings fell into ruin. About 1850 every vestige of wall and foundations was dug up and carted away for building dykes and farm steadings, with the exception of a small aisle, which in 1686 had been appropriated as a burial vault by the Pringles of Beatman's Acre. Soutra Hill is the most westerly ridge of the Lammermuirs, and commands a gorgeous view, over the Lothians and the Firth of Forth, to the hills of Fife.—Ord. Sur., sh. 33, 1863. See David Laing's Registrum Domus de Soltre (Bannatyne Club, 1861).

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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