A tour through the whole island of Great Britain: divided into etc., Volume Six. By Rev. Clement Cruttwell, published in London in 1801.

I have included descriptions of places around Dumfries in the except transcribed here, in the order in which they appear, although some are outwith the Stewartry.

Dumfries is situated on the river Nith, in the south part of the district, called Nithsdale; it is a royal burgh, and united with Annan, &c. in sending a member to parliament. The principal street runs parallel with the river, about three-quarters of a mile in length, besides which there are seven or eight other streets, besides lanes ; the houses are generally well built of brick and red free-stone, and look neat. It is likewise paved, and lighted at night. There are two markets weekly, on Wednesday and Friday.

The town-house is situated in the middle of the High Street; under it are the weigh-house, and town guard-house; near it is the prison. The council chamber, in a separate building, contains portraits of King William and Queen Mary, and a late Duke of Queensberry. There are two churches, a public infirmary, and a new theatre.

The port of Dumfries extends from Southwick, in the parish of Colvend, up the Solway Frith to Sarkfoot: in this whole tract of coast vessels are allowed to take in or unload cargoes only in the river Nith, below Dumfries, and at Annan, where not much business is done. About eight or ten coasting vessels belong to this town, besides two or three which are employed in the Baltic, and in the wine trade. The castle anciently belonged to the Maxwells.

The bridge over the Nith consisted of nine arches, and measured four hundred feet in length; the breadth between the parapet was thirteen feet six inches. Here was a small gate, called the Port, which was considered as the boundary between Nithsdale and Galloway. In the year 1769 the gate was taken away, to lessen the weight.

This bridge was built by Devorgilla, third daughter of Alan, Earl of Galloway, who died in 1269. The Earl of Nithsdale had a right to a market on the bridge, which he sold to the magistrates, who also purchased the tolls of the bridge. In the year 1789, the old bridge being surveyed, was reported dangerous, and a new one soon after erected.

At Holywood, three miles north from Dumfries, is a circle of large stones, supposed to be druidical, and, according to tradition, anciently surrounded with trees. When Christianity prevailed, this sacred spot was chosen for the site of a monastery, called from the grove Holywood, monasterium de sacro nemore, which was founded by the lady Davorgilda, daughter of Alan, Lord of Galloway, who died in 1269. In Keith's appendix it is placed among the premonstratensian monasteries ; and John de Sacra Bosco, a great mathematician, famous for his book De Sphæra, is supposed to have resided there as a monk. The last remains of the abby were taken down to rebuild the parish church, in 1778.

At Lincluden, two miles north from Dumfries, are the remains of a college, which was originally a priory of Benedictine nuns, founded in the reign of King Malcolm IV. by Uthred, father to Rolland, Lord of Galloway, who was buried here. By him Lincluden was endowed with the divers lands lying within the baronies of Corse Michael and Drumsleith, in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. This priory was afterwards changed by Archibald the Grim, earl of Douglas, Lord of Galloway and Bothwell, into a college or provostry, consisting of a provost and twelve beadsmen, because of the lewd and scandalous lives of the nuns. This earl died in 1400, and was interred in the sacristy or vestry here, over the door of which is still to be seen his and his lady's armorial bearings; she was heiress of Bothwell. They are neatly carved in stone, on different shields, between which three stars are interlaid, with three cups; the latter are the insignia of his office of Panitarius Scotiæ.

From what remains of that ancient building, which ispart of the provost's house, the chancel, and some of the south wall of the church, an idea may be easily formed of its former splendor. The choir, in .particular, was finished in the finest style of the florid Gothic. The roof was treble, in the manner of that of King's college, at Cambridge, and the trusses, from whence the ribbed arch-work sprung, are covered with coats of arms; the lower roof is now entirely demolished, the middle one, a plain arch, still stands, but the uppermost roof, which consisted of timber and lead, was destroyed at the reformation. The earls of Douglas, when in the zenith of their power and greatness, expended considerable sums in ornamenting this place, which was their favourite residence, when wardens of the west marches. In the chancel is the elegant tomb of Margaret, daughter of Robert III., wife of Archibald earl of Douglas, first Duke of Terouan, and son of Archibald the Grim. Her effigy, at full length, says Mr. Pennant, lay on the stone, her head resting on two cushions; but the figure is now mutilated, and her bones, till lately, were scattered about, in a most indecent manner, by some wretches who broke open the repository in search of treasure.

Six miles south from Dumfries, on the right bank of the Nith, is Kirkconnel, where, in 1484, a battle was fought between a party under the conduct of the Duke of Albany and the Earl of Douglas, and the troops of James III in which the latter were victorious: the Duke of Albany fled to England, and the earl was taken prisoner, and confined for life to the abby of Lindores.

In the burying-ground of Kirkconnel is the grave of the fair Ellen Irvine, and that of her lover. . She was daughter of the house of Kirkconnel, and was beloved by two gentlemen at the same time. The discarded one vowed to sacrifice the successful rival to his resentment, and watched an opportunity, while the happy pair were sitting on the bank of the Kirtle, that washes these grounds. Ellen perceived the desperate lover on the opposite side, and fondly thinking to save her favourite, interposed, and, receiving the wound intended for her beloved, fell, and expired in his arms. He instantly revenged her death, then fled into Spain, and served for some time against the infidels. On his return, he visited the grave of his unfortunate mistress, stretched himself upon it, and expiring on the spot, was interred by her side. A sword and a cross are engraved on the tomb-stone, with Hic jacet Adam Fleming, the only memorial of this unhappy gentleman, except an ancient ballad, of no great merit, which records the tragical event.

Here formerly stood a castle of the Flemings, called Redhall, which, in the reign of Baliol, was attacked by the English; it was then occupied only by thirty Flemings, who held out three days, to the last extremity, and, rather than survive the surrender, set fire to the building, and perished in the flames. No vestige of the tower now remains. In this parish is still remaining, though not inhabited, the old tower of Woodhouse, said to be the house into which Robert Bruce first entered, when he fled from Edward Longshanks.

To the east of the town lies Lochermoss, an extensive morass, on each side of the small river Locher: this moss is a dead flat ten miles long, and from two to three broad, and seems to have been anciently an inlet of the Irish sea or Solway Frith: large pieces of roots, and whole trees, chiefly firs, have been found deep buried; the latter uniformly with their tops inclined to the north-east.

At Loch Roieton (Lochrutton), or the Hill's Castle, three miles south-west from Dumfries, there appears to have been a castle, or mansion, in 1300, in which Edward I. remained one night, in his way from Caerlaverock to Kirkcudbright.

The present edifice, which surrounds a great square court, is divided into different tenements. Several coats of arms, with initial letters, are set up in different parts, chiefly of the Maxwells. Over the gate, which is pierced with loop-holes for musquetry, are the arms of Scotland, with the date 1598. There 19 another escutcheon, dated 1600, both probably to commemorate some repairs.

At Torthorold, two miles to the east, are the remains of an ancient castle, surrounded by a double ditch. The building seems to have consisted solely of a tower, or keep, of a quadrilateral figure, its area measuring on the outside fifty-one feet by twenty-eight. It contained two stories. The walls, like most of those towers, were of an enormous thickness; the ceilings vaulted. In the north-east angle was a circular staircase. It is supposed to have been last repaired about the year 1630, a stone taken from it, and fixed up against the out-offices of the manse, or minister's house, having that date cut on it. The ancient family of Torthorold is extinct.

Three miles south from Dowell, near the Solway Frith, are the remains of New abby, a Cistercian monastery, founded in the beginning of the thirteenth century, by Devorgilla, daughter of Alan Lord of Galloway, niece to David Earl of Huntingdon, and wife to John Baliol Lord of Castle Barnard. Baliol died in the year 1269, and was buried in this new foundation. Andrew Winton, prior of Lochleven, informs us, that the lady Devorgilla caused his heart to be taken out and embalmed, putting it into an ivory box, bound with enamelled silver, and closed it solemnly in the walls of the church, near the high altar; from whence it was occasionally styled the Abby of Sweetheart, though afterwards more generally called New Abby.

This abby stands in a bottom. The principal parts remaining are, the church, and part of the chapterhouse, said to have been an elegant piece of architecture, demolished, as was supposed, for the fake of the stone. It was feared the whole building would have undergone the same fate; wherefore a number of the neighbouring gentry raised a sum of money by subscription, and the minister was employed to enter into an agreement with the tenant to prevent it, for which £40 was paid him. The parish kirk is formed out of its ruins. Near the abby are the remains of an ancient building, called the Abbot's tower.

Near the Haugh of Urr is an artificial mount, called the Mote of Urr, which was, according to tradition, what is implied by the Saxon term mote; that is, a place of judicature, or public assembly: and when Galloway was an independent state, this was the court where the reguli, or petty kings of that district, held their national councils, and promulgated such new laws and regulations as were found necessary from time to time to be enacted. It was also the seat of judgment, where their deemsters or judges tried capital offenders. At this time Galloway was divided into two districts, namely, above and below the water of Cree. The Mote of Urr was the great court of judicature for the latter. This mount, or hill, greatly resembles that of the Tinwald, in the Isle of Man, which is appropriated to the same uses.

This kind of court was not peculiar to Galloway, or the Isle of Man. Mounts, called motes, and court hills, are to be seen near a great number of castles and baronial mansions, not only in Scotland, but in England also; their use, however, as courts of justice, seems forgotten in England, where it has been generally supposed they were constructed for military purposes, particularly to answer the uses of cavaliers, in overlooking or commanding the moveable towers, orether works of an enemy.

At Buitel (Buittle), five miles south from the Haugh, are the remains of a castle, the property of Mr. Maxwell; built out of the materials of one more ancient, at a small distance from it. The mount, some scattered fragments of walls, a draw-well, and the surrounding foss, all overgrown with trees and bushes, are all the remains of this fortress, which, when Galloway was an independent state, was said to have been the residence of John Baliol, some time king of Scotland.

Castle Douglas, anciently called Carlingwark, has lately been erected into a burgh of barony; it contains about 700 inhabitants, and in it are manufactures of cotton. Near it is a loch called the Carlinwark loch, which has been in part drained. There is a tradition, that there was once a town in this loch, which sunk, or was overwhelmed with water; and that there were two churches, or chapels, one on each of two islands. Near the town are the vestigaes of what is called an ancient druidical temple.

One mile north-west from Kelton is Thieve or Thrieff Castle, situated on an island in the river Dee. Here was, it is said, a more ancient fortress, belonging to the Lords, or Petty Kings, of Galloway; which being demolished, the present building was erected, but by whom, or when, is not ascertained, but is supposed to be a Douglas. Tradition says, this castle obtained the appellation of Th’riv’s Castle, that is, the castle of the Rive: others derive it from the Reeve, as being a contraction of the Reeves Castle. Upon the ruin of the house of Douglas, and the annexation of the lordship of Galloway to the crown of Scotland in 1455, this castle remained in the king’s hands, who appointed captains for the keeping thereof as occasion required. The Lords Maxwell, afterwards Earls of Nithsdale, possessed the heritable office of Stewards of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, and keepers of the Castle of Thrieff, until the year 1747, when all the heritable jurisdictions in Scotland were annexed to the crown.

The keepers of the Castle of Thrieff received from each of the twenty six or twenty seven parishes in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, what was called a ladnermart cow; that is, a fat cow, in such condition as to be fit for killing and salting at Martinmass, for winter provision. These ladnermart cows were regularly paid to the Earls of Nithsdale, till the forfeiture of the last earl in 1715, when it went into disuse; but formerly, so attentive were the family to that right, that when, in the year 1704, they sold the estate upon which the castle of Thrieff stood, they reserved the island and castle, that it might afford them a title to the twenty seven ladnermart cows belonging to the castle; and they regularly, by a written commission, appointed a captain of the castle of Thrieff.

This castle consists of a large square tower, built with a small slate-like stone; is surrounded at a small distance by an envelope, with four round towers: it had also a strong gate. The curtains of the envelope were pierced for guns.
During the troubles under king Charles I. the Earl of Nithsdale held this castle for the king, and armed, paid, and victualled a garrison therein of eighty men, besides officers, all at his own expense; till, at length, his majesty, unable to give him any assistance, directed and authorised him to make the best conditions he could for himself and the garrison of this castle, and also for that of Caerlaverock, wherein he had been for a considerable time besieged.

Gatehouse of Fleet is a new town, pleasantly situated on the banks of the Fleet, with manufactures of cotton, and a tannery: it contains about 1150 inhabitants. The road from Gatehouse on Fleet to Newton Douglas is reckoned one of the pleasantest in Scotland, the whole being diversified with woods, gentlemen's seats, and gentle hills, with views of Wigton bay, the Isle of Man, &c.

About a mile out of the road, on the left, in the parish of Kirkmabreck, is an ancient tumulus, or heap of stones, called Cairn-holy, or Holy Cairn, and said to have been raised over the grave of King Galdus. In this parish is one of the highest mountains in the south of Scotland, called Cairnsmoor, which is one entire mass of granite. There are likewise some appearances of lead mines; but they have not been wrought.

Cree Town receives its name from the river which divides the county of Kirkcudbright from that of Wigton, and forms a large opening at its mouth called Wigton bay. This place, which was formerly called Ferrytown of Cree, from a ferry or passage boat being kept here, has within a few years advanced very rapidly, and was lately erected into a burgh of barony. In the year 1764 there were few more than 100 inhabitants, in 1794 they amounted to near 1100. It is well situated on the east bank of Wigton bay; and a considerable number of vessels, from twenty to sixty tons, belong to the port. A little below the town, vessels of 500 tons may anchor, and ride in safety.

Newton Douglas (Newton Stewart) is another place of rapid growth, as it is within a century that the first house was built by the proprietor of the estate (Castle Stewart). It is situated on the west bank of the river Cree, over which is a bridge, and contains about 1100 inhabitants.