Roxburghshire - Encyclopedia

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ROXBURGHSHIRE, a Border county of Scotland, bounded W. by Berwickshire, E. and S.E. by Northumberland, S. by Cumberland, S.W. by Dumfriesshire and N.W. by the shires of Selkirk and Mid Lothian. It has an area of 426,060 acres, or 665.7 sq. m. The only low-lying ground in the shire is found in the N. and in the valleys of the larger rivers, and the whole S. is markedly hilly. Though the Cheviots, forming for a considerable distance the natural boundary with England, mostly belong to Northumberland, Catcleuch Shin (1742 ft.) and Peel Fell (1964) are Scottish peaks. The chief heights of the mountainous mass constituting the watershed between Teviotdale and Liddesdale are Cauldcleuch Head (1996), Greatmoor (1964), Pennygant (1805), Din Fell (1735), Windburgh (1622) and Arnton Fell (1464). In the W. is Crib Law (1369), and in the N., near Melrose, occur the triple Eildons (highest peak, 1385). The county is abundantly watered. The Tweed flows through the N. of the shire for 26 out of its total run of 97 m., though for about 2 m. (near Abbotsford) it is the boundary stream with Selkirkshire, and for 10 m. lower down with Berwickshire (parishes of Earlston and Merton). On the right its affluents are the Bowden and the Teviot, and on the left the Allan and the Eden. The Teviot is the principal river lying entirely in Roxburghshire. From its source near Causeway Grain Head on the Dumfriesshire border, it follows mainly a N.E. direction for 37 m. to its confluence with the Tweed at Kelso. Its chief tributaries are, on the right, Allan Water, the Slitrig, Dean Burn, the Rule, the Jed, the Oxnam and the Kale, and, on the left, Borthwick Water and the Ale, both rising in Selkirkshire. The Liddel is the leading stream in the S. Rising near Peel Fell in the Cheviots it flows S.W. to the Esk after a course of 27 m., receiving on the right Hermitage Water, on the left Kershope Burn. The Kershope and Liddel, during part of their run, serve as boundaries with Cumberland. Excepting the Liddel, which drains to the Esk, much the greater portion of the surface is drained, by the Tweed, to the North Sea. The lakes are few and small, the largest being Yetholm or Primside Loch and Horselaw, both in the parish of Linton among outlying hills of the Cheviots. Teviotdale, Liddesdale, Tweedside and Jedvale are the principal valleys.

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This county contains a considerable range of sedimentary rocks from the Ordovician to the Carboniferous systems, and with these are associated large tracts of volcanic rocks. The Ordovician and Silurian rocks occupy the N.W. and W. part of the county; they have been thrown into numerous sharp folds. It is on the crests of the anticlines that the strata of the former system appear flanked on either side by those of the latter. The oldest rocks are the mudstones and radiolarian cherts with contemporaneous and intrusive igneous rocks of Arenig age; these are followed by shales and greywackes of Llandeilo age and similar rocks of Caradoc age. Then comes the Silurian with the Birkhill shales and massive grits and greywackes of the Gala or Queensberry group with the Hawick rocks; these are all of Llandovery age and they occupy the greater part of the Silurian area. Wenlock and Ludlow rocks are found S. of Hawick rocks from Wisp Hill N.E. by Stobs Castle; other inlying masses occur in the Old Red Sandstone and Carboniferous areas, the largest of these being that which appears in a belt some 14 m. in length from near Riccarton in the direction of Hobkirk. Two divisions of the Old Red Sandstone occur; the lower, which consists of subordinate sandstones and conglomerates in sheets of contemporaneous lavas with some tuffs, is confined to the Cheviots; the strata are unconformable upon the upturned Silurian beds. The upper division, which in its turn is unconformable upon the lower, occupies about one-third of the county. It consists of coarse conglomerates at the base followed by sandstones and marls. It is well developed in the N., where volcanic rocks come in; the Trow Crags of Makerstown which cross the Tweed are due to these lavas. It extends from Newtown and Kelso to Kirkton with extensions in the valleys S.W. Carboniferous rocks are represented by the Calciferous sandstone series; in the S.W. in Liddesdale and on the uplands of Carter Fell, Larriston Fell, &c., they are sandstones with shales, some calcareous beds and coal and volcanic beds. In the N.E. corner of the county the outer part of the Berwickshire Carboniferous basin just comes within the boundary. An interesting series of volcanic "necks" belonging to this period is exemplified in Dunain Law, Black Law, Maiden Paps, Ruberslaw and other hills. Glacial deposits are represented by boulder clay and beds and ridges of sand and gravel.

Climate and Industries

The average annual rainfall is about 37 in., higher in the hilly regions and somewhat lower towards the N. and E. The mean temperature for the year is 48° F., for January 38° F. and for July 60° F. The soil is chiefly loam in the level tracts along the banks of the larger streams, where it is also very fertile. In other districts a mixture of clay and gravel is mostly found, but there is besides a considerable extent of mossy land. Of the area under grain about two-thirds are occupied by oats, the remainder being principally devoted to barley. Among green crops turnips and swedes are most generally cultivated, potatoes covering a comparatively small acreage. In different parts of Tweedside and Jedvale several kinds of fruit are successfully grown. Both in the pastoral and arable localities agriculture is in an advanced condition. The hill country is everywhere covered with a thick green pasturage admirably suited for sheep, which occupy the walks in increasingly large quantities. The herds of cattle are also heavy, horses are kept mostly for farming operations, and pigs are raised in moderate numbers. Fairly large holdings predominate, farms of between loo and 300 acres being general, and only in Berwickshire is the proportion of farms of more than moo acres exceeded. Many districts on the Tweed and Teviot are beautifully wooded, but having regard to the great area once occupied by forest, the acreage under wood is now relatively small.

The county is the principal seat of the tweed and hosiery manufactures in Scotland. Engineering, ironfounding, dyeing and tanning are also carried on at Hawick and Jedburgh, and agricultural implements and machinery, chemical manures and especially fishing tackle are made at Kelso. The salmon fisheries on the Tweed are of considerable value.

The Waverley route of the North British railway runs through the county from near Melrose in the N. to Kershopefoot in the S. At St Boswells branches are sent off to Duns and Reston, and to J edburgh and Kelso via Roxburgh. The North-Eastern railway, an English company, has a line from Berwick to Kelso, via Coldstream and Carham.

Population and Administration

The population in 1901 was 48,804, or 73 persons to the sq. m. In 1901 there were 132 persons who spoke Gaelic and English, but none Gaelic only. The principal towns are Hawick (pop. 17,303), Kelso (4008), Jedburgh (3136), Melrose (2195). The county returns a member to parliament, and Hawick' belongs to the Border group of parliamentary burghs. Jedburgh, the county town, is a royal burgh, and Hawick, Kelso and Melrose are police burghs. The shires of Roxburgh, Berwick and Selkirk form a sheriffdom, and a resident sheriff-substitute sits at Jedburgh and Hawick. The county is under school-board jurisdiction, and there are secondary schools at Hawick and Kelso, while the board schools at Jedburgh and Melrose have secondary departments. Most of the "residue" grant is expended in assisting teachers to attend science and art classes at Edinburgh University and Hawick, and in subsidizing science and art and technical classes at Hawick, Kelso and elsewhere.

History and Antiquities

Among the more important remains of the original inhabitants are the so-called "Druidical" stones and circles at Plenderleath between the Kale and Oxnam; on Hownam Steeple, a few miles to the N.W. (where they are locally known as the Shearers and the Bandster); and at Midshiels on the Teviot. The stones on Ninestane Rig, near Hermitage Castle, and on Whisgill are supposed to commemorate the Britons of Strathclyde who, under Aidan, were defeated with great slaughter by Ethelfrith, king of Bernicia, at the battle of Degsanstane or Dawstane in 603. There are hill forts in Liddesdale on the Allan, in the parish of Oxnam, and on the most easterly of the three Eildons. This last is said to be the largest example of its kind in Scotland. The fortress was defended by palisades around the three circular terraces which form the hill-top. Within the enclosure there was a town of huts, judging from certain marks that indicate the site of such dwellings, and the relics of early British pottery that have been found, while the fact that springs exist renders the theory of a settlement all the more probable. One of the most important and most mysterious of British remains is the Catrail, or Picts' Work Dyke. In its original condition it is supposed to have consisted of a line of double mounds or ramparts, averaging about 30 ft. in width, with an intervening ditch 6 ft. broad, the slope from the centre of the mound to the middle of the bottom of the trench being io ft. Owing to weather and other causes, however, it is now far from perfect and in places has disappeared for miles. Beginning at Torwoodlee, N.W. of Galashiels, it ran S.W. to Yarrow church, whence it turned first S. and then S.E., following a meandering course to Peel Fell in the Cheviots, a distance of 48 miles. Though it must have been difficult to defend so long a line, the bulk of opinion is in favour of its being a defence work. Roman remains are also of exceptional interest. Watling Street crossed the Border N. of Brownhart Law (1664 ft.) in the Cheviots, then took a mainly N.W. direction across the Kale, Oxnam, Jed and Teviot to Newstead, near Melrose, where it is conjectured to have crossed the Tweed and run up Lauderdale into Haddingtonshire. The chief stations were Ad Fines on the Cheviots, Gadanica (Bonjedward) near Jedfoot and Eildon Hill (? Trimontium). Another so-called Roman road is the Wheel Causeway or Causey, a supposed continuation of the Maiden Way which ran from Overburgh in Lancashire to Bewcastle in Cumberland, and so to the Border. It entered Roxburghshire N. of Deadwater and went (roughly) N. as far as Wolflee, whence its direction becomes a matter of surmise. Of Roman camps the principal appear to have been situated at Cappuck, to the S.E. of Jedburgh, and near Newstead, at the base of the Eildons, the alleged site of Trimontium. After the retreat of the Romans the country was occupied by the Britons of Strathclyde in the W. and the Bernicians in the E. It was then annexed to Northumbria for over four centuries until it was ceded, along with Lothian, to Scotland in 1018. David I. constituted it a shire, its ancient county town of Roxburgh (see Kelso) forming one of the Court of Four Burghs. The castle of Roxburgh, after changing hands more than once, was captured from the English in 1460 and dismantled. Other towns were repeatedly burned down, and the abbeys of Dryburgh, Jedburgh, Kelso and Melrose ultimately ruined in the expedition of the earl of Hertford (the Protector Somerset) in 1544-45. The Border freebooters - of whom the Armstrongs and Elliots were the chief - conducted many a bloody fray on their own account. On the union of the crowns the county gradually settled into what was comparatively a state of repose, disturbed to some extent during the Covenanting troubles and, to a much slighter degree. by the Jacobite rebellions.

Bibliography.-Sir George Douglas, Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Edinburgh, 1899); W. S. Crockett, The Scott Country (Edinburgh, 1902); Alexander Jeffrey, The History and Antiquities of Roxburghshire (4. vols., Edinburgh, 1857-64).

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