Hoddam


Hoddam
   HODDAM, a parish, in the county of Dumfries, 6 miles (N.) from Annan; containing, with the village of Ecclesfechan, 1627 inhabitants. This parish comprehends the ancient parishes of Hoddam, Luce, and Ecclesfechan, which were united in 1609. Hoddam, in ancient charters, is spelt Hodholm and Hodolm, signifying "the head of the holm," and is supposed to have derived that appellation from its situation on the bank of the river Annan, where the ground is flat and rich, and what is usually called holm land. The name of Luce is said to be derived from the luxuriance of the herbage; and that of Ecclesfechan from the Latin word Ecclesia, "a church," and an Irish abbot called Fechan, who is thought to have lived in this part about the seventh century. When the three parishes were united, a new church was built in a central situation, and the old churches gradually fell to decay. Hall-Guards, in the parish, was the site of the old castle of Hoddam, which is considered to have been the seat of a branch of the family of Bruce; but the fortress was demolished some centuries ago, in compliance with the terms of a border treaty. It was rebuilt by John, Lord Herries; but one of that family afterwards erected a castle in a more favourable situation, at Cummertrees, on the other side of the Annan, and the seat in this parish was then neglected.
   The parish is about five miles long, and three and a half broad, and contains 7158 acres. It is bounded on the north by Tundergarth; on the south and south-west by the river Annan; on the east by Middlebie parish; and on the west by St. Mungo. It is included in the district of Annandale, and is remarkable for the beauty of its scenery, which is interestingly diversified with good grounds, wood, and water. The surface consists for the most part of an extensive plain, surrounded by gently swelling hills in the highest state of cultivation, the whole intersected by thriving hedges, and ornamented with groups of flourishing plantations. The highest land is the hill of Burnswark, 740 feet above the level of the sea, and which commands views of several English counties, of the Isle of Man, and, in very fine weather, of the mountainous part of Yorkshire. The streams are, the Annan, the Milk, and the Mein, the last of which, however, is only a rivulet. The Annan is about 100 feet wide, and has numerous pools fifteen or sixteen feet deep; it contains salmon and trout, but the fish have become much less plentiful since the use of lime manure, which, when washed off the lands by floods or rains, strongly impregnates the waters. The Milk, touching the parish on the south-west, is a good trout stream, and also abounds with small fish. The Mein, which is a tributary to the Annan, frequently changes its channel, bringing considerable havoc to the lands through which it takes its course.
   The soil on the holm lands is a deep loam, and exceedingly fertile; the great plain in the heart of the parish is of a light gravelly soil, and also yields fine crops. The high ground in the north, however, is clayey, resting upon a cold tilly subsoil and a copper rock, and is very inferior to the lands below. About 6430 acres are under cultivation; 730 are hill pasture, and upwards of sixty wood. All kinds of grain are produced, though the quantity of wheat bears no proportion to the oats and barley; a few turnips and large quantities of potatoes are raised, and almost, every cottager keeps one or two hogs, which are fed to some extent upon the latter root. The best system of husbandry is adopted; and all the arable land being good, and a considerable proportion of superior quality, the crops are in general very valuable. The lands have been entirely inclosed, within the last fifty years, with good fences. The substrata consist chiefly of sandstone and limestone, with slate-clay, clay-ironstone, and amygdaloid. No workable coal has yet been discovered; but some attempts recently made have excited a hope that it will eventually be found. The rateable annual value of Hoddam is £5209. The turnpike-road from Lockerbie to Longtown runs through the parish, in addition to which there are five cross roads. A large and beautiful stone bridge has been erected over the Annan, and several over the Mein: these, as well as the roads and fences throughout the parish, are kept in good order. The ecclesiastical affairs are directed by the presbytery of Annan and synod of Dumfries; alternate patrons, the Duke of Buccleuch and the Sharpe family. The stipend of the minister is £259, with a superior manse, and three glebes valued at £43. 10. a year. The church, built in 1817, and standing about a mile from Ecclesfechan, is comfortably fitted up, and seats 561 persons. The United Secession have a place of worship; and there is a parochial school, the master of which receives £35 per annum, with about £12 fees. At Burnswark, in the northern extremity of the parish, is one of the most entire Roman encampments in the kingdom; it was formed by Agricola; and a number of altar-pieces, arms, &c., have been found in its vicinity. Carlyle, author of the History of the French Revolution, was born in the parish.
   See Ecclesfechan.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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