Hobkirk, or Hopekirk


Hobkirk, or Hopekirk
   HOBKIRK, or HOPEKIRK, a parish, in the district of Jedburgh, county of Roxburgh, 8 miles (E. S. E.) from Hawick; containing 776 inhabitants. This parish, which is not distinguished by any events of historical importance, appears to have derived its name from the situation of its church. It is eleven miles in length, from north to south, and about three miles in breadth; and is bounded on the north by the parishes of Cavers and Bedrule, on the east by the parish of Southdean and a small part of that of Castleton, on the south by Castleton, and on the west by Kirkton and Cavers. The surface is strikingly varied; in the southern extremity is a chain of hills forming part of the Cheviot range, and on the northern boundary is the Rubberslaw hill, which has an elevation of 1420 feet above the level of the sea. Between this hill and the southern range is the level valley of the river Rule, on the east bank of which is the beautiful hill of Bonchester, rising in a spherical form to a height of 1260 feet, and covered with rich verdure to its summit. The river rises in the southern range of hills, and, flowing through the whole length of the parish, falls into the Teviot about two miles from its northern extremity, after a course of nearly thirteen miles, in which it has been augmented by many streams descending from the higher grounds. There are numerous springs in various parts, affording an abundant supply of excellent water; and some few patches of marsh and bog. The river, with its valley, is one of the prettiest and most sequestered in the south of Scotland; it abounds with trout, and is much frequented by anglers; and the smaller streams also contain trout and other fish, but they are generally swept with nets.
   The soil in some parts is a reddish clay, in which are found numerous boulders of stone; in some places heathy, and in others moss. The whole number of acres is estimated at 19,000, of which nearly 3500 are arable, about 900 in wood and plantations, and the remainder meadow, pasture, and waste land. The crops are, oats, peas, wheat, barley, potatoes, and turnips; the system of agriculture is improved; the lands have been drained and partly inclosed, and a considerable portion of waste has been reclaimed and brought into cultivation. The fences are partly of paling, for which the thinnings of the woods afford ample materials, and partly of thorn hedges, &c.; the old farm-houses are indifferent, but improvement is rapidly advancing, and all the buildings of modern erection are substantial and commodious. Much attention is paid to the rearing of live stock. About 10,000 sheep, mostly of the Cheviot, with a cross of the Leicestershire breed, are fed in the pastures; and there are also a few of the Merino breed: the quantity of wool produced annually is 1500 stones. Above 300 head of young cattle, also, are reared every year, chiefly of the short-horned breed. The woods consist of birch, hazel, alder, beech, oak, and elm, which on some of the lands are regularly thinned; but in the other lands less attention has been paid, and considerable quantities of valuable timber might be cut down, with great benefit to the remaining trees. The plantations, which are chiefly larch and Scotch and spruce firs, are in a flourishing condition, and are rapidly increasing in extent. The rateable annual value of the parish is £6269. The substrata are mainly greywacke, sandstone, and limestone, and, on the higher parts of the hills, greenstone of several varieties. The sandstone and limestone are quarried for building purposes and for manure; and a stratum of agate or coarse jasper is found at Robertslin, of which various ornaments are made. There are no villages in the parish, and but two small hamlets, each of six or eight dwellings. Facility of communication is afforded with the neighbouring market-towns by roads kept in excellent order, and by the turnpike-road from Hawick to Newcastle, and that from Jedburgh to Castleton, both which pass for several miles through the parish.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Jedburgh and synod of Merse and Teviotdale; and the patronage is in the Crown. The stipend of the incumbent is £206: the manse, which has been thoroughly repaired within the last few years, is a tolerably good residence, and the glebe comprises fifteen acres, with half the glebe of the suppressed parish of Abbotrule, together about twenty-four acres, valued at £40 per annum. The church, erected in 1700, and repaired in 1777, and in other years, is well situated, but a very inconvenient edifice, adapted for a congregation of 400 persons: the floor, as in most ancient churches, is below the level of the churchyard. The parochial school affords education to about eighty children; the master has a salary of £32. 10., with an allowance for deficiency of garden ground, and a house, and the fees average £24 per annum. A subscription library has been established, and meets with due encouragement. A bequest of £100 was made some time since by Lady Yester; the interest is divided between the heritors for charitable purposes, and the schoolmaster. On Bonchester hill are considerable remains of ancient fortifications, of which some are square, and others of circular form, intersected also by lines of more modern construction. This hill, which is admirably adapted for the site of a camp, is supposed to have derived its name from its having been occupied by the Romans for that purpose. Querns, arrow heads, and various other relics of antiquity have been found here. On Rubberslaw and other heights are also traces of camps; and ashes and human bones, and urns, have been frequently discovered. Two cairns were lately removed, which are thought to have been raised over the remains of warriors slain in some battle that occurred near the spot; one of these was situated on the eastern side of Rubberslaw, and the other at Fodderlee. Of a battle at the latter place, there are some traditionary records; but nothing is recorded respecting the former. At Langraw, a great quantity of burnt bones and ashes have been discovered, within a circular inclosure about eighteen feet in diameter. On their removal, were found, in the sandstone underneath, four holes, in which upright poles had been fixed, and secured by stones wedged in from above; but of the purpose of the erection of these, or the use to which they were applied, nothing is known. Mary, Queen of Scots, passed through this parish on her route from Jedburgh to Hermitage Castle, and, near its extremity, was obstructed by a bog, which has been ever since called the "Queen's Mire." Thomson, the poet, resided, or frequently visited, here, and wrote his first sketch of Winter from the view of Rubberslaw.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.


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