Parish of Dunsyre

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: Dunsyre
1834-45: Dunsyre

Dunsyre (perhaps ' fort of the marsh '), a village and a parish on the NE border of the upper ward of Lanarkshire. The village, standing 750 feet above sea-level, near the right bank of South Medwin Water, has a post and railway telegraph office under Noblehouse, and a station on a branch line of the Caledonian, 2½ miles W by N of Dolphinton, and 8½ ENE of Carstairs Junction.

The parish is bounded NE by West Calder in Edinburghshire, E by Linton in Peeblesshire, SE by Dolphinton and Walston, and W, NW, and N by Carnwath. Its length, from N to S, varies between 3½ and 5¾ miles; its utmost breadth, from E to W, is 4¾ miles; and its area is 10,759½ acres, of which 16 are water. South Medwin Water, rising in the NE corner of the parish, winds 9¼ miles SSE and WSW along all the eastern and southern border, and receives West Water with two or three smaller burns from the interior, where, to the NW, lies tiny Crane Loch (2/3 x 1/3 furl). The surface sinks along South Medwin Water, at the south-western corner, to less than 700 feet above sea-level, and rises thence to 960 feet at Easthills, 1313 at Dunsyre Hill, 1347 at Mid Hill, 1210 at Left Law, 1460 at Bleak Law, 1070 at Cairn Knowe, 1336 at Black Law, 1360 at Harrows Law, and 1425 at White Craig-these forming the Pentlands' south-western termination. Springs of excellent water are numerous and copious; and springs charged with iron ore abound on the verge of a marsh. The rocks are partly crystalline, partly stratified, and the stratified ones comprise sandstone and limestone, and are supposed to belong to the Carboniferous formation. Copper ore and calc - spar are found. The soil is generally sandy, and not very fertile; about 3000 acres being in tillage, 30 under wood, and the rest either pastoral or waste. The chief of the two estates in the parish was part of the lands exchanged in 1492 by the first Earl of Bothwell, with the Earl of Angus, for the lands and castle of Hermitage in Liddesdale; and passing by sale from the Marquis of Douglas to Sir George Lockhart, president of the court of session (1685-89),. belongs now to his descendant, Lockhart of Lee and Carnwath. Dunsyre Castle, 300 yards from the parish church, had a basement vault and a two-storied superstructure; and down to about 1740 was a seat of baronial courts, and possessed its instruments of torture. No fewer than eight other old fortalices stood within the parish-five at Easter Saxon, two at Westhall, and one at Todholes. Several cairns have been found to contain urns; and the route by which Agricola's army went from Tweeddale to the Roman camp at Cleghorn, traversed the parish, and still is traceable in the form of an earthen dike. Dunsyre was a frequent retreat of the Covenanters in the times of the persecution; and William Veitch, one of the most distinguished of their preachers, was tenant of Westhills up to the battle of Rullion Green (1666); whilst Donald Cargill, the martyr, preached, in 1669, on Dunsyre Common. Dunsyre is in the presbytery of Biggar and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; the living is worth £200. The church is an old building, with iron jougs and a Gothic tower, added in 1820, and contains 245 sittings. A public school, with accommodation for 46 children, had (1880) an average of 46, and a grant of £51, 11s. Valuation (1882) £6326, 8s. Pop. (1801) 290, (1831) 335, (1861) 312, (1871) 302, (1881) 254.—Ord. Sur., sh. 24, 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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