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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Tongland, a hamlet and a parish of S Kirkcudbrightshire. The hamlet lies on the right bank of the river Dee, 21/8 miles SSW of Tarff station, and 2½ NE of Kirkcudbright, under which it has a post office. The parish contains also Tarff station on a branch (1864) of the Glasgow and South-Western railway, 3½ miles N of Kirkcudbright and 6¾ SW of Castle-Douglas; and Ringford village, 1 mile N by E of Tarff station, with an inn and a post office. Comprising the ancient parishes of Tongland and Balnacross, it in outline resembles a triangle with southward apex, and is bounded N and NE by Balmaghie, SE by Kelton and Kirkcudbright, and SW by Twynholm. Its utmost length, from N to S, is 51/8 miles; its utmost breadth, from E to W, is 4¼ miles; and its area is 9858¼ acres, of which 34¼ are foreshore and 77 water. The Dee, here a splendid salmon river, flows 5 miles south-south-westward along all the Kelton and Kirkcudbright boundary; and troutful Tarff Water, formed in the NW angle of the parish by the confluence of Glengap and Anstool Burns, winds 5¼ miles, chiefly south-byeastward, through the interior, then 2 miles south-south-eastward along the Twynholm boundary, till it falls into the Dee near Compstone House. The Dee is spanned, a little below the hamlet, by the old two-arch bridge of 1737, and, 3 furlongs lower down, by the railway viaduct and by Telford's new bridge, which, with a span of 110 feet, consists of one circular arch, and was constructed in 1804-8 at a cost of £7710. The rocky turbulent reach between the bridges is described in Montgomery's Cherrie and the Slae (1595). Limpid. Tarff Water, at a point 2¾ miles NNW of Ringford, forms a picturesque series of falls, the Linn of Lairdmannoch, from 50 to 60 feet high. Culcaigrie Loch (2 x 1½ furl.; 375 feet) lies on the boundary with Twynholm, and Bargatton Loch (3¼ x 2½ furl.; 250 feet) on that with Balmaghie. At the southern extremity of the tongue of land between Tarff Water and the -Dee the surface declines to less than 100 feet above sea-level; and thence it rises northward to 326 feet at Argrennan Hill, 719 at Kirkconnell Moor, and 588 at Barstobrick or Queen's Hill. The southern district consists of a hilly ridge running N and S, and of gradual declivities sloping down to the rivers. The northern division is rocky and moorish, and consists of a medley of small hills, rising-grounds, valley-land, moss, and meadow. A tract along both margins of Tarff Water is fine flat alluvial ground, naturally rich meadow. The predominant rocks are porphyry and clay slate; whilst.the soil of the arable lands is very various, but, in general, especially in the southern and central districts, is fertile in either grain or grass. Less than one-fourth of the entire area is constantly in tillage; and most of the remainder is meadow, hill-pasture, or waste. On the rocky moor called Bartstobrick a spot is pointed out where Mary of Scotland is alleged to have rested to refresh herself in her flight from the battle of Iangside to the abbey of Dundrennan. The event has bequeathed to the farm the name of Queenshill. On Kirkconnell Moor, at a great distance from any house, a plain granite monument was erected in 1831 over the grave of the martyr, James Clement, who, with four other Covenanters, was shot here by Grierson of Lag in Feb. 1685. There are sites or remains of cairns in four localities, of a fort near the Free Church manse, and of a stone circle near the Linn of Lairdmannoch. The Præmonstratensian abbey of Tongland, near the parish church, was founded by Fergus, Lord of Galloway, about the middle of the 12th century, for canons who came from Cockersand in Lancashire. In 1325 the Gallowegian rebels slew the abbot and sacrist in the church, because they were foreigners, and had sworn allegiance to Edward I. of England. The last abbot, Damian, satirised by Dunbar, was an Italian alchemist, who, in the reign of James IV. essayed to fly from Stirling Castle to France. He fell into a midden, and fractured his thigh bone-a fiasco ascribed by him to the blending in his pinions of a dunghill cock's plumes with eagle's feathers. Little remains of the abbey save the northern round-headed arch, excavated and restored in 1851. John Morrison (1782-1853), painter, poet, and land-surveyor, spent most of his life in Tongland, and is buried in the churchyard. Argrennan and Queenshill, noticed separately, are the principal residences; and 6 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 5 of between £100 and £500, and 8 of from £20 to £50. Tongland is in the presbytery of Kirkcudbright and the synod of Galloway; the living is worth £209. The parish church, at the hamlet, is a red granite Gothic edifice of 1813, with 420 sittings and a square pinnacled tower, in which hangs a bell bearing date 1633. A Free church stands close to Tarff station; and two schools, Tongland public and Ringford female industrial, with respective accommodation for 87 and 75 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 60 and 46, and grants of £56, 5s. and £28, 10s. Valuation (1860) £6920, (1885) £14,183. Pop. (1801) 636, (1831) 800, (1861) 892, (1871) 908, (1881) 829.—Ord. Sur., sh. 5, 1857.

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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