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Parish of Spott

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: Spott
1834-45: Spott

Spott, a village and a parish of E Haddingtonshire. The village lies towards the N of the parish, near the left bank of Spott Burn, and 3 miles S by W of the post-town, Dunbar.

The parish is bounded NW and N by Dunbar, E by Innerwick and Stenton (detached), SW by Stenton (detached) and Whittinghame, and W by the main body of Stenton. Long and narrow, it has an utmost length from N to S of 8 7/8 miles, a varying width of 2 ¼ furlongs and 3 7/8 miles and an area of 7582 ¾ acres.* Spott or Brox Burn and Woodhall or Dry Burn drain the northern portion of the parish north-eastward direct to the German Ocean; whilst Bothwell Water flows south-south-eastward along the Innerwick boundary of the southern portion until it falls into the Whitadder at the southern extremity of the parish. Sinking to 85 feet above sea-level in the extreme N, and to 690 feet in the extreme S, the surface is an alternation of hill and dale, part of the Lammermuir range; and chief elevations, from N to S, are Doon Hill (582 feet), Spott Dod (608), Black Law (800), Lothian Edge (1157), and Bothwell Hill (1250), the first culminating on the eastern, the last on the south-western, boundary. The predominant rocks are Devonian; and the soil is clayey in some parts, but light and sandy in most. Between 2000 and 3000 acres are in tillage; about 100 are under wood; and most of the remainder is hill pasture. On the top of Doon Hill lay David Leslie's Scotch army two days before the Battle of Dunbar (1650); and Cromwell is said to have spent the night after the battle in Spott House. Elsewhere, in three or four localities, are remains or the sites of ancient hill-forts and cairns. A strange fatality appears to have waited on the incumbents of Spott in the 16th century. One, Robert Galbraith, was assassinated by John Carketle, a burgess of Edinburgh, in 1544; the next, John Hamilton, a natural son of the first Earl of Arran, became Archbishop of St Andrews, and, captured by Craufurd at Dumbarton Castle, was hanged at Stirling in 1570; and in the same year a third, John Kello, was executed at Edinburgh for the murder of his wife. He had hanged her in the manse, and then gone and preached ` a more than usually eloquent sermon.' In the annals of witchcraft this parish is famous as almost the last place in Scotland where reputed witches were burnt, for so late as October 1705, the kirk-session records contain this entry: `Many witches burnt on the top of Spott loan.' Spott House, a little way E by S of the village, is delightfully situated at the SW base of Doon Hill, and commands a beautiful view, away to the Bass Rock and the Isle of May. Partly a building of high antiquity, it was greatly improved soon after its acquisition, more than 50 years since, by the late proprietor, James Sprot, Esq. (1804-82), who held 1 138 acres in the shire, valued at £1873 per annum. Elias de Spot swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296; and later the estate was held by the Humes, Douglases, Murrays, and Hays. It has been bought by Miss Watt of Speke Hall, Liverpool (J. Small's Castles and Mansions of the Lothians, Edinb. 1883). Another mansion, noticed separately, is Bower House; and, in all, 4 proprietors hold each an annual value of more, and 3 of less, than £500. Spott is in the presbytery of Dunbar and the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; the living is worth £460. The church, surrounded by fine old trees, is a building of high antiquity, and, as restored in 1848, presents a picturesque appearance. The public school, with accommodation for 118 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 49, and a grant of £28, 18s. Valuation (1860) £6993, (1885) £6641, 13s. Pop. (1801) 502, (1831) 612, (1861) 555, (1871) 560, (1881) 579.—Ord. Sur., sh. 33, 1863.

* In every account, from the New Statistical downwards, Spott is said to comprise a main body to the n and a detached section to the S; but a glance at the Ordnance maps will show that one can walk from Spott village to Beltondod, Caldercleugh, and Bothwell, without at any point quitting the parish. The mistake arose from regarding Dunbar Common as a detached section of Dunbar parish.

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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