From the Transactions of the Dumfries and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 1895-1896, this interesting presentation covers the Glenkens area. 

The Glenkens in the Olden Times.
By Mr James Barbour, of Dalry.

The Glenkens, or valley of the river Ken, lies in the north of Kirkcudbrightshire, and extends from New-Galloway Railway Station on the south to Ayrshire on the north, and from the river Dee on the west to Dumfriesshire on the east. It is 28 miles from north to south, and 18 miles from east to west. The height above sea level is about 120 feet at head of Loch Ken and 2688 feet on Corserine, the highest hill in the Glenkens. It is one of the most beautiful valleys in the south of Scotland. Except a fringe of cultivated land on each side of the Ken it is wholly pastoral - consequently its primitive condition is the more easily ascertained. The parishes of Balmaclellan and Dalry lie on the east side of the Ken, and Kells and Carsphairn on the west side.

When the Romans entered Galloway about A.D. 80 they found the country covered with wood except the exposed soilless summits of the rocks and low marshy spots where wood would not grow. The trees in the Glenkens were principally oak, ash, birch, alder, and rowan-tree or mountain ash. There would also be an undergrowth of hazel and thorns, both white and black, in some places, as may be seen now in patches and clumps of old natural wood at Gairloch, Tannoch, Forest, on the banks of Garroch and Knocknarling and Garpol Burns, and at several other places. There had also been thickets of fir trees, an instance of which is seen at the foot of Loch Dungeon, where the water has washed the soil from the roots. Where peats are cut in deep moss the spade goes through numerous branches of birch and hazel with the nuts still retaining their shape. Trunks of large oak trees are found with the wood yet quite hard. Often on the highest hills, where no improvements have been attempted, the roots of large oak trees are yet to be seen. In no part of the south of Scotland can those old relics of bygone ages be traced so well as among the hills of Kells and Minnigaff. Those forests were stocked with wild cattle, horses, the unus - an animal resembling a bull but much larger - deer, swine, wolves, and foxes, besides numerous smaller animals. The wild fowls which are still to be found on the hills, being then undisturbed, were more numerous and more daring than now. Eagles and ptarmigan are now extinct.

The rivers and streams abounded with various kinds of fishes: but few were caught and eaten by the natives. Many reptiles, now exterminated, infested the morasses and woods, and prodigious swarms of insects were yearly generated.

The original inhabitants of the Glenkens were a tribe called the Selgovae. Their language was Gaelic, which is said to have been spoken by some of the inhabitants so late as 1688. The great majority of the place-names are Gaelic - Irish Gaelic - which was probably the language spoken by the Scots who came from the north of Ireland and conquered and settled in Galloway about A.D. 410. The original inhabitants were large, robust, and well formed. They excelled in running, wrestling, and swimming, and were very courageous. They wore little or no clothing, but dyed their skins so as to represent figures of beasts. They sometimes smeared their bodies with clay, probably as a defence against the bites of insects. Those were fortunate who had the skin of an animal to tie round their shoulders in winter. They retreated in winter into caves and thickets of wood, and in summer they lived in round houses constructed by a circle of stakes being driven into the ground and interwoven with brushwood. The fire was in the middle of the floor, and fires continued to be made on the floor in very many houses until within the last hundred years.

The last one was allowed to fall into decay only two years ago, but a beautiful representation of it was painted by your townsman, Mr McLellan Arnott. In common with the ancient inhabitants of Britain, their religion was Druidism. Their sacred places were either in recesses of the woods or at circles of stones, and after the introduction of Christianity churches were in many instances erected at those sacred places. The word cell or kell in Gaelic signifies a retreat or recess, hence the name Kells; and Clauchan (Dalry), a collection or circle of stones.

In connection with the Druids, there is still to be seen on the farm of Lochrenny, in the parish of Dalry, a stone five inches in diameter, with a hole through it, which was used in their marriage ceremonies. There are similar druidical stones to be found in Orkney.

The only Roman remains to be found in the Glenkens is a portion of the so-called Roman road that led from Ayr to Kirkcudbright. This line of road can still be easily traced from Dalmellington till opposite Dalry Village, where it merges into the present public road to Kirkcudbright. That portion of it from Ayr to Dalmellington was carefully surveyed and examined by Dr Macdonald, late of Kelvinside College, Glasgow, who found at least some of the characteristics of a Roman road in it. That portion in the Glenkens was in regular use until 1800, when a more level road was made. It is about 15 feet broad, whereas the old native roads are only tracks 6 or 7 feet in width. It has strongly-built culverts, whereas the native roads have only fords over the small streams, and on the whole there seems little doubt it was at least widened and repaired by the Romans. Old roads marked on the Ordnance Maps as Roman can easily be traced on the farm of
Altrye, in Dalry, and at Holm of Dalquhairn, in Carsphairn. This line of road evidently came from Dumfries, as it goes through the farm of Shinnelhead, in the parish of Tynron, and enters Dalry parish on the top of Altrye hill at the watershed between the two counties, 1700 feet above sea level. That road joined the old road near Dalmellington, and so led on to Ayr. Dr Macdonald and I examined that road in July, 1894, where marked on the map as a Roman road; but we found neither kerb stones nor pavement, or anything to indicate that it was Roman. The shepherds called it a Cadger's road.

There are at least three distinct moraines in the Glenkens; one a little way up the stream that feeds Loch Dungeon, on the Kells Rhynns. The ice has brought the debris down from the highest point of the hills. There is another by the side of a burn that flows past the steading of Holm of Dalquhairn, which has evidently come from Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, 2635 feet. It forms many knolls or hillocks, which are called the "Alwhanny Knowes." Another moraine is at the foot of the "Meaul " of Garryhorn, also in Carsphairn, quite close to Woodhead lead mines. It is called by the shepherds "The lumps."

There is a cairn of large stones on the top of the Kells Rhynns called "The Carlin's Cairn," which has an historical tradition attached to it. It is said that when Robert Bruce was wandering in disguise among the hills of Kells and Minnigaff in 1306, waiting until his friends raised an army to free the country from the troops of Edward I., he came one evening, wet and weary, to the Mill of Polmaddy and asked hospitality for the night, which was readily granted. Next day English soldiers came searching for Bruce. The miller's wife, who was a clever, capable woman and a true patriot, at once suspecting that the stranger would be Bruce, told the soldiers that no man of that name was there, but that he (Bruce) would be gone on to Lochmaben. After the soldiers left, the miller's wife asked the stranger if he was Bruce. He said he was, but asked to be allowed to remain for a few days longer until he got intelligence of his brother. The miller was not told who the stranger was, but was instructed to conceal him among the wheels of the mill if any more soldiers came. After two days more soldiers came, when Bruce was hid among the wheels, and again escaped. When he was crowned King of Scotland the miller's wife gathered together all her friends and neighbours, and had a glorious pic-nic and holiday. They ascended Castlemaddy hill, and on the top built a cairn to commemorate the success of King Robert. The cairn still stands, and is named "The Carlin's Cairn."

There is an excavation on the top of Altrye hill called "the Whig's Hole." It is a large hole scooped out of the hill top, capable of holding 100 men, and was much resorted to as a hiding-place during the time of the persecution. The place was so deep that anyone standing in it could not be seen from a distance, but yet had the advantage of seeing an enemy approaching either by the old riding road from Sanquhar or from the valley of the Ken on the other side.

The very oldest public work in Galloway, and consequently in the Glenkens, was the "Deil's Dyke " or "Pict's Wall," which is described as a vast rampart running through Galloway and Nithsdale. It is supposed to have been erected as the boundary between two tribes. Probably it was built by the Scots after they had gained possession of Galloway, to guard against the incursions of the Picts, whom the Scots had driven to the northward. The foundation of the wall was eight feet broad, and it was eight feet high. It is now only seen at intervals among the hills where no alterations have been made. Much of it has been carted away to build dykes, and in several places where I have seen it there was a resemblance to au old sunk fence. The western end of this wall was on the eastern shore of Loch Ryan, near the site of the ancient Roman station of Rorigonium (now Innermessan). It then passed through the northern part of Wigtownshire and entered the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright a few miles to the north of Newton-Stewart. It next passed across the parish of Minnigaff, and entered the Glenkens on the farm of Garvary, in the parish of Kells, and passed through the farms of Drumbuie, Clendry, Largmore, Dukieston, Knockreoch, Larg-geerie, Barlae, Dalshangan, near the old Bridge of Deuch at the "Tinkler's lowp;" Marskaig, Auchenshinnoch, and Kerroch, in Dalry. It passed through the parishes of Glencairn, Tynron, and Penpont, and was very entire at Southmains, near Sanquhar. From Southmains it passed down the east side of the Nith, and can be traced to the Hightae flow, through the parish of Annan, and ended at the Solway Firth nearly opposite Bowness in Cumberland, where Hadrian's wall commenced. Another account says that when the Romans withdrew from Britain the northern hordes issued from the woods and mountains and rushed into Valentia plundering the whole country. It was at this time, we have every reason to believe, that the inhabitants of the South of Scotland, with the aid of some foreign residents, raised a wall of protection against those voracious visitors. This rampart, called the "Roman Dyke," the "Pict's Wall," or "Deil's Dyke," seems to have been built of stone in some parts, and in other parts of stone and turf. It had a fosse on one side, and probably a path on the other. The rampart must have been made by a people inhabiting the south side. The remains of this wall have been traced from the shore of Loch Ryan on the west to the north-east boundary of Kirkcudbrightshire. After that it runs into Dumfriesshire, and joins the Britton wall at the Solway Firth. The remains of this old dyke can still be seen at several places in the Glenkens.

The next notable event in order of time was the battle between the Northmen, or Danes, and the Scots on Dalarran Holm some time about A.D. 800. The feeble governments of Denmark and Sweden allowed numerous bands of pirates and robbers to infest the northern shores of Britain. In 787 they first appeared on the coasts of England, and some years afterwards visited the shores of Scotland. After landing and plundering along- the shores of the Solway, they reached the Glenkens. Those Danes and the natives met on a level holm close to the river Ken, two miles south of Dalry, and fully one mile from New Galloway, and there they fought a bloody battle. The Scots were victorious. The Danish sea-king was killed, and was buried where he fell. A tall stone still marks the spot, and stands about 100 yards from the public road. About seventy years ago a little thatched cottage stood beside the stone. I have been in the cottage when a very little boy. One of the lairds of Holme made excavations near the stone, where he found an entire antique sword, which was long preserved in his family. About ninety years ago pieces of rusty armour were frequently turned up by the plough on Dalarran holm.

The events next in order of time are the repeated visits of King James IV. through Dalry on his journeys to the shrine of St. Ninian at Whithorn, where his confessors sent him to do penance for his sins. The church at Dalry was dedicated to St. John, and the place at that time was called St. John's Kirk, and the village St. John's town. Dalry was the name of the parish, and the name Dal-righ signifies the king's valley. But in Scottish history the village was named “St. John's Clauchan."

King James, on his journeys from Edinburgh to Whithorn, rode on horseback along with his attendants, as the roads then were only bridle paths. From details of the king's expenditure found in his treasurer's accounts we find that the first mention of his visit to St. John's Kirk was in 1491, when he gave 2s to the priest, and paid 5s for being ferried "ower the water" with his retinue. He next passed through to Whithorn in 1497, when he gave 3s 6d to the "puir folk" and 5s for being ferried over the Ken. Again he passed in 1501, and paid 18s for belchair or breakfast and 5s for the ferry. King James passed several times after these dates, but there are no more payments recorded. The ferry mentioned was over a pool in the Ken, still called the "Boat weil," where a ferry boat plied until 1800, when the bridge was built at Allengibbon. I have seen the boatman's house standing and inhabited. The materials were carted away thirty years since to make an addition to Waterside farm-house. The road by which the king rode down to the river is still a public road, and is called by the villagers " the water road."

The old kirk was situated low down in the churchyard, and is now converted into a tomb. The present church stands on a bank overlooking the river. The old holy water font is placed by the side of the entrance to the church. The burial place of the Gordons of Lochinvar and Viscounts of Kenmure is in an old tomb which appears to have been at one time joined to the church. The village at one time is said to have been a furlong from the church, but is now built down to a level with it.

The old inn of Midtown, where the rebellion broke out that resulted in the battle of Rullion Green, in 1666, was at the upper end of the village. The old house has now been taken down, and a new house built in the old courtyard.

In 1629 Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar applied to the Scottish Parliament for authority to erect part of his lands with the houses thereon into a Royal Burgh. It was thought St. John's Clauchan was meant to be the place, but in 1633 the Scottish Parliament granted a charter for the village of Roddings being created a Royal Burgh, as it was more convenient to Kenmure. It was to be called the Burgh of Galloway, now New Galloway, the corporation to consist of a Provost, four bailies, a Dean of Guild, and twelve Councillors. Its patron died before his design of building the town was fully carried out. A weekly market was, however, established, and a farmers' club, both of which proved of much benefit to the district for many years. An annual cattle show was also established then, which has continued till now, and is said to have been the parent of all the cattle shows in Scotland.

The Forest of Buchan was a royal hunting forest. About the year 1500 it occupied an immense area, including large tracts of land in the parishes of Kells, Carsphairn, and Minnigaff. From Loch Doon it extended to Loch Dee, Loch Trool, and the river Cree. The farms included in the Forest in the parish of Kells were Garvary, Bush, Forest, Darnaw, Dukieston, Knockreoch, Woodhead, Strangassel, Knocknalling, Stranfasket, Burnhead, Largmore, Drumbuie, and Barskeoch. Much of the land included in this area was bare rocky heath; but there were also in it some rich and well-sheltered pastures, and many beautiful glens, the whole abounding with game. As late as 1684 Symson writes -
"There are very large red deer, and about the mountain tops the tarmachan or ptarmigan, a bird about the size of a grouse cock. Eagles, both grey and black, also bred there." The latest eagle seen among the hills was trapped near Loch Dee about 1860. The limits of the forest gradually contracted, and in the 17th century only the part lying in Minnigaff retained the name of the Forest of Buchan. Several farms in Kells, however, bear traces of this forest. An extensive sheep farm still bears the name of Forest, and another The Bush. The remains of old woods are still to be seen at Forest, and on the level mossy pastures numerous trees are found lying about two feet below the surface, many of them quite fresh. Polmaddy Mill, which adjoins these farms, was erected to grind grain to feed the Royal hounds, and Castlemaddy was the place where the hounds were kept. Polmaddy signifies the burn of the dogs, and Castlemaddy, the strong place of the dogs. This forest was preserved for the exclusive hunting of the Kings of Scotland, and for many years the Earls of Cassilis were rangers, and had charge of it; but in 1628 the then Earl resigned his charge in favour of Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar. Several hunting lodges were kept up in the forest - Hunt-ha', Garvary, Dukieston, and Castlemaddy were favourite places.

James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, Queen Mary's third husband, sometimes hunted here. The Queen bestowed an estate on him on the east side of the Ken opposite the forest, and there he built the Castle of Earlston, so called because it was the residence of the Earl. He built it for his hunting lodge, near to a ford where he could cross the Ken. When Queen Mary was deposed Bothwell fled to Orkney and Shetland, and his lands in Galloway were forfeited. In 1586 the estate of Earlston was granted to his nephew, Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell. Upon his forfeiture, in 1593, the estate was granted to Andrew, Lord Ochiltree. The Gordons of Lochinvar acquired the estate of Earlston by charter in 1620, and about 1630 it was bestowed on the second son of the then Viscount Kenmure, who was thus sole proprietor. An addition of the east wing was made by William Gordon and his wife, Mary Hope, in 1655, and a stone built into the wall shews the date and initials "W.G., M.H., 1655." The castle itself is still pretty entire, but the offices round the courtyard are in ruins.

The site of the castle of Banck or Lagwine, mentioned in old records, is about a quarter of a mile north of Carsphairn Village. It is said to have been destroyed by fire. It was the residence of the family of McAdams of Waterhead. John Lowden Macadam, the road improver, was of this family.

The very scanty remains of the Castle of Kars or Dundeuch are still to be seen on a level holm by the side of the river Deuch near its junction with the Ken. It was an important strong-hold in the days of Bruce. Afterwards a branch of the family of Gordons of Lochinvar is said to have possessed it.

The remains of an old square tower on an island in Lochinvar  - the original home of the Gordons when they came from Berwickshire in 1207 - is still to be seen. On a clear day, when the loch is calm, a causeway may be seen below the water - one branch leading to the shore on the east, and another leading to the west shore.

Barscobe Castle, in the parish of Balmaclellan still stands, and is now inhabited by a ploughman's family. It was built in 1648 by a McLellan, a relative of the Kirkcudbright McLellans who had an estate in Balmaclellan parish. The wife of the builder of the castle was a Gordon of Shirmers.

The remains of the old tower of Shirmers, also in the parish of Balmaclellan, is close to the present farm steading of Shirmers, and near the shore of Loch Ken. It is much crumbled down and covered with ivy. It belonged to a branch of the Gordons of Kenmure, and is supposed to have been destroyed by orders of the Regent Moray after the battle of Langside because the Gordons refused to submit to him.

And now we come to the most important castle in the district - the castle of Kenmure. It is said to have been built by Alan, Lord of Galloway, and that Dervorgilla, his daughter, occasionally lived there with her father. Some think that John Baliol, her son, was born there. A castle was originally built on a low mound close by the head of Loch Ken and to the south of the present castle, but about 1300 it was rebuilt on its present romantic and
beautiful site.

The Gordons of Lochinvar came from Berwickshire in 1297, but at that time lived in the castle at Lochinvar. They acquired Kenmure by charter in 1483, and were created Viscounts of Kenmure and Lords of Lochinvar in 1630. Another branch of the Berwickshire Gordons acquired lands in the north of Scotland, from which sprang the Dukes of Richmond and Gordon. After the battle of Langside the Regent Moray summoned Sir John Gordon to submit to him, and sent a party of soldiers into the Glenkens to compel him to do so. The officer left his troop at St. John's Clauchan until he went to Kenmure to get Sir John's answer; but he refused to submit - whereupon the soldiers marched to Kenmure Castle, and burned and destroyed as much as they could of the castle. They also destroyed the tower of Shinners, which was the house of one of his friends. The castle still stands, and is inhabited. The portion which was burned and partially thrown down is now repaired. It is beautifully situated on its high and romantic mound, and is approached by a very fine avenue of grand old limes.

At one time there seemed to have been a church on the farm of Bogue in Dalry parish, but there is no mention of it in history. The site of the church or chapel can still be seen - also the foundation of the fence around the churchyard, which enclosed half an acre, as well as the foundation of the walls of the priest's house. A stone was found in the dyke beside the place with "Pope G." rudely carved on it. The field is still named "chapel leys," and the place where the priest's house stood is named the "priests' knowe." The site is marked on the Ordnance Survey maps.

There are three very old bridges still standing and in use in the Glenkens. One is the "Old Bridge of Ken," as it is called, built over the Ken on the line of road between Dalry and Carsphairn on the east side of the Ken. It is six miles from Dalry and four from Carsphairn. It is very narrow, barely allowing one vehicle to pass along at a time. There is also a narrow old bridge over the Garpol Burn at the head of Holme Glen, on the line of what was at one time the high road to Edinburgh. A third old bridge is over Polharrow burn, on the line of the old semi-Roman road from Ayr to Kirkcudbright. It is now widened, and the modern road from Dalry to Carsphairn on the west side of the Ken passes over it. It is said to have been originally built by Quentin McLurg, a tailor, whose earnings never exceeded 4d per day. In 1695 a bridge was built over the river Dee near Clatteringshaws, in the parish of Kells, on the old line of road then in use. The place can yet be distinguished a few hundred yards farther up the stream than the present bridge. Before that time the river was often unfordable in winter, and the inhabitants of the country had applied to the Earl of Galloway, Viscount Kenmure, and other influential gentlemen to use their endeavours with the Privy Council of Scotland to have money raised to build a bridge, but they failed to obtain an Act. The Synod of Galloway then took the matter up, and ordered a house-to-house collection to be made in every parish within their jurisdiction. As soon as a sufficient sum was raised, a bridge was built under the superintendence of the clergy. The present bridge near the place was built in 1811.


At the time of the Revolution of 1688 the country was in a deplorable condition, after thirty years of cruel tyranny and oppression. The houses in general were miserable hovels, built of stone and turf, or stone with clay for mortar. The fire was on the floor, and the house had a small window on each side opposite the fire-place to let out the smoke as well as to give a little light. On whatever side the wind blew the window on that side was stuffed with straw or old rags. The inhabitants kept their cows in winter tied to stakes in the end of their dwelling-houses, and all entered at the same door, and very often there was no partition between the inmates. Many families had no bedsteads, but slept on mattresses of plaited straw, or a bunch of heather laid down on the floor around the fire. The best farm houses had a living place similar to the above, and in addition another house built parallel, with a paved court between, and which house was called " The Chaumer," and was kept as a parlour and bedroom for guests. It had a fire-place at each end, with sometimes a small grate and sometimes none. I have frequently been in one of those old houses about 1832. The common living house was dark, dirty, and uncomfortable in the extreme. Very often the wall on one side of the house could not be seen from the other side because of smoke and darkness. The earthen floor was always damp and clammy, and on a wet day was especially miserable.

Wooden dishes were used, and at meals they all ate out of one dish. Each person had his own spoon, which was made from a ram's horn. They had neither knives nor forks, but used their fingers instead. The food of the common people was of the meanest and coarsest kind. Those were reckoned well off who got a sufficient quantity of porridge, brose, and sowens, made of very poor grain, dried on the fire in pots, and ground in querns, with greens or kail boiled in salt and water. They seldom tasted animal food, except the carcases of beasts that died of starvation or disease. It was rare to slaughter any animal for provision in winter. Many sheep died in late autumn and early winter from braxy, or inflammation, and these they salted up, and hung pieces of them from the rafters to dry and be smoked. For drink they put up whey into barrels in summer until it fermented. This they mixed with water, and drank after being kept nearly a year. A very little of this quenched their thirst. Tea was then known, but it cost thirty shillings a pound.

The dress of the inhabitants was very rough and homely. The men wore waulked plaiden or kelt coats made of a mixture of black and white wool in its natural state. Their hose were made of white plaiden sewed together, and they wore rude single-soled shoes. Their Kilmarnock bonnets were either black or blue. None had hats except the lairds. In general neither men nor women wore shoes except in winter, and their children got none until they could go to church. Shirts they scarcely knew, and those used were of coarse woollen, and seldom changed. The women dressed untidily in coarse gowns, shaped in the most uncouth manner. Farmers' wives wore toys or hoods of coarse linen when they went from home. When young girls went to church, fairs, or markets they wore linen mutches or caps. At home they went bareheaded, and had their hair snooded back on the crowns of their heads with a string used as a garter.

Agricultural operations were very awkward and inefficient. Ploughs were heavy, and badly made. Both oxen and horses were generally yoked to one plough, perhaps four oxen and two horses. Where no oxen were used four horses were yoked. A woman or a boy was employed to walk backward and lead the animals. One man held the stilts of the plough, and another man, called the Gadsman, regulated the depth of the furrow by pressing down or raising up the beam of the plough. Harrows were light and coarsely made. The teeth were of wood hardened by being tied up to the smoky rafters of the dwelling-house, but they required to be often replaced. There were no carts then made. Manure was taken to the fields on cars, or in creels slung over a horse's back. The women also carried out manure on their backs in creels of a smaller size. Corn and hay were conveyed home in trusses on horses' backs, and peats in sacks or creels. Heather was often cut on the hills for firing.

In spring working horses and oxen became so lean and weak from want of sufficient food that they sometimes fell down in the draught. The land was in crop for four successive years, and after that lay four years fallow. The yield was miserably poor, and the quality of the grain was bad. In unfavourable seasons the inhabitants were reduced to actual starvation.

The price of cattle was very low, as they were generally in such poor condition. In spring, when put to grass they were often so weak that when they lay down they could not rise without assistance, and they frequently fell into bogs and mosses, when neighbours had to be called to help to get them set on firm ground again. After the oat crop appeared above ground in spring cattle and sheep had to be tended during the day, and shut into folds or loans at night, for there were no division fences. There was scarcely even a march fence between farms, which was frequently the cause of quarrels and lasting animosities between neighbours.

Both men and women, from the hardy way in which they were brought up, were more robust and vigorous than at present, and were not subject to many diseases, but the average duration of life was much shorter.

Saddles and bridles had not come into common use. People rode to church or market on brechams or pillions, while they put halters made of hair rope on the horses' heads instead of bridles, and put shoes only on their fore feet.

Education was at a very low ebb. Few of the common people could read even the Bible, but the precentor in each congregation read the Scriptures in the church before the minister appeared. The lower classes were very superstitious, and believed in ghosts, fairies, and witches. To preserve their cattle from the effects of witchcraft they put pieces of rowan tree on the walls above the cows' heads when in the house, and tied smaller pieces among the long hair of their tails when out in the fields. At this time roads were in a wretched condition. They were indeed but bridle tracks, and there were very few bridges in the district.

External Links