Parish of Tweedsmuir

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, 2002-2022.

It has taken much time and money to make the six-volumes of Groome's text freely accessible. Please help us continue and develop by making a donation. If only one out of every ten people who view this page gave £5 or $10, the project would be self-sustaining. Sadly less than one in thirty-thousand contribute, so please give what you can.

Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry Arrow

Links to the Historical Statistical Accounts of Scotland are also available:
(Click on the link to the right, scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Browse scanned pages")

1791-99: Tweedsmuir
1834-45: Tweedsmuir

Tweedsmuir, a large parish of SW Peeblesshire, containing, close to its northern extremity, the Crook Inn, 6 ½ miles S of Broughton station, 16 ½ N by E of Moffat, 36 SSW of Edinburgh, and 12 SSE of Biggar, under which there is a post office of Rachan Mill. It is bounded NW and NE by Drummelzier, E by the Megget section of Lyne, SE and S by Moffat in Dumfriesshire, and SW and W by Crawford in Lanarkshire. Its utmost length, from N to S, is 8 ½ miles; its utmost. breadth, from E to W, is 8 5/8 miles; and its area is 51 square miles or 32, 612 ¾ acres, of which 144 are water. The Tweed, here a mountain stream, rises in Tweed's Well at an altitude of 1500 feet above sea-level, and runs 10 ½ miles north-north-eastward, until, 3 furlongs N by E of the Crook Inn, it passes off into Drummelzier. It thus divides Tweedsmuir into two unequal portions, that to the E being very much larger than that to the W. During this course it is joined by twenty-three rivulets, which all have their source in. Tweedsmuir, and the largest of which are Fruid water, rising at 2500 feet, and running 8 miles north-north-westward; Talla Water, rising at 2300 feet, running 6 ½ miles north-westward, and itself receiving Gameshope Burn; and Hearthstane or Harestane. Burn, rising at 2000 feet, and running 4 1/8 miles north-westward. Another tributary, Polmood Burn, rises in Drummelzier at 2250 feet, and over the last 2 ¾ miles of its 4 miles' west-north-westerly course traces the Drummelzier boundary. The high road from Edinburgh to. Moffat and Dumfries runs 9 ¾ miles up the parish close to the W bank of the Tweed, and just at the Lanarkshire boundary crosses from Tweeddale into Annandale by a ` col ' 1334 feet high. In the extreme N, where the Tweed passes off into Drummelzier, the surface declines to 743 feet above the sea: and chief elevations to the W of the river, as one goes up the valley, are *Nether Oliver Dod (1673 feet), *White Knowe Head (1707), *Culter Cleuch Shank (1801), *Black Dod (1797), and *Clyde Law (1789); to the E, Great Knock (2267), *Broad Law (2754), Middle Dod (2179), Garlavin Hill (2383), Molls Cleuch Dod (2571), *Lochcraig Hill (2625), and *Hartfell (2651), where asterisks mark those summits that culminate on the confines of the parish. ` It will be seen from your list of our mountains, ' writes the Rev. John Dick, M.A., who has been minister from 1858, `that Tweedsmuir embraces some of the highest summits in the Southern Highlands, and these are pierced by numerous deep glens of various scenery, some wildly moorland, some quietly pastoral, some ruggedly broken, and all bearing their contribution to the "siller Tweed." The whole parish is mountainous, but the upper vale of the Tweed toward Tweedshaws is comparatively bare and featureless, though even here there are often, especially up the tributary burns, close scenes of simple beauty which charm and surprise the solitary angler or pedestrian. Lower down the landscape is much more impressive in outline and more picturesquely diversified in detail. Near the village, which consists of only a few detached cottages, the road to St Mary's Loch crosses the old stone bridge of one arch, under which the confined Tweed, tumbling through a rocky chasm, plunges into a deep linn well known to angler and -artist. To the left of the river, high up on the hill, Oliver House, the seat of T. T. Stodart, Esq., the only resident landowner, looks out from its ancestral trees upon one of the finest views in Peeblesshire. Right below, on its prominent knoll between Tweed and Talla, stands the parish church, embowered in birch and elm and Scotch fir, up through which rises the taper spire, whose red freestone tints contrast harmoniously with the dark hues of the pine. Beyond the church, and flanking the right bank of the Talla, is the rounded form of Cockland, with its gentle slopes and green pastures; behind and above which towers the huge bulk of Broadlaw, one of the highest ridges in the south of Scotland. Between Cockland and Quarter Hill the beautiful vale of Talla stretches away up south-south-eastward untillost to the eye in the recesses of the lofty mountain ranges which form the horizon in that direction. The head of Talla Glen is a deep hollow or den, hemmed in on the one side by the steep spurs of the Broadlaw (otherwise called "Talla Banks"), and on the other by the beetling precipices and cleft chasms of the Gairlet, the immemorial haunt of the hunting falcon; while from the heights behind the shepherd's house, through a formidable fissure, Old Talla foams from linn to linn in a succession of striking falls (hence the name of the spot, Talla Linnsfoot), 4 miles SE of the church. From the little handrail bridge above the linns the scene is grand and impressive, resembling in its general features the Devil's Beef-tub, the head of Black's Hope, and the gorge of the Grey Mare's Tail. Here the Talla is joined by Gameshope Burn, a thoroughly Highland stream, which issues from a little black lochan in the wilds above, churns its way among opposing rocks down the steep descent of a dark and narrow gorge, whose sides " ascend like lofty wa's," and in whose clefts and corries the snow often lies till well on into the summer. This is Gameshope, associated with Covenanting memories, famous for ferns and trout, but most notable for its scenery, which, for stern and rugged grandeur, is not surpassed by any similar scene south of the Forth and Clyde, and may bear comparison with the more widely celebrated Glenogle in Perthshire.' The predominant rocks are greywacke and greywackeslate. The soil of the arable tracts is mostly a light loam, and that on many parts of the hills is a strong thick mould, formed of earth and moss. Less than 300 acres are in tillage; but, except for the cost of reclamation, much of the lower slopes of the hills might easily be brought under the plough. Large flocks of sheep, most of them Cheviots, are pastured; and hay-meadows and peat fuel are plentiful. Hawkshaw Castle, an ancient seat of the Porteous family, stood on the left side of Hawkshaw Burn, 5 miles SSW of the Crook Inn; and at the source of the Tweed is a spot called Tweeds Cross, from its having been the site of a pre-Reformation cross. Here in Feb. 1831 the guard and the driver of the Edinburgh mail coach perished in a gallant attempt to carry the letter bags through the drifted snow-an episode woven by Dr John Brown into his essay on The Enterkin. Other antiquities are noticed separately under Fruid, Giant's Stone, and Oliver Castle. Three proprietors hold each an annual value of more, and 6 of less, than £500. Tweedsmuir is in the presbytery of Peebles and the synodof Lothian and Tweeddale; the living is worth £275. The parish church, 1½ mile SSW of the Crook Inn, on the peninsula between Talla Water and the Tweed, crowns a knoll, called Quarter Knowe, by some supposed to be a tumulus, but really of alluvial formation. The present building, successor to one of 1648, was erected in 1874-75 at a cost of £1930, and contains 180 sittings. A Romanesque structure, it is in beautiful keeping with the surrounding scenery, and forms a commanding object from every point of approach. An old headstone in the graveyard bears the inscription- 'Here lyes John Hunter, martyr, who was cruely murdered at Corehead by Col. James Douglas and his Party for his adherance to the word of God and Scotland's covenanted work of Reformation, 1685.' An excellent parish school, with accommodation for 45 pupils, has an average attendance of 35; and another little school for the children in the remote district of Tweedshaw, at the head of the parish, has a present attendance of 9. Valuation (1860) £5121, (1885) £7645, 18s. 6d. Pop. (1801) 277, (1831) 288, (1861) 196, (1871) 190, (1881) 215.—Ord. Sur., sh. 16, 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

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better