- CLOSEBURN, a parish, in the county of Dumfries; containing 1530 inhabitants, of whom 123 are in the village, 2½ miles (S. S. E.) from Thornhill. This place, anciently called Kill-Osburn, from Cella Osburni, was formerly remarkable for its very ancient castle, which belonged, for many centuries, together with the parish, to the family of Kirkpatrick. By a charter in the possession of a branch of this family, it appears that Ivon de Kirkpatrick obtained a confirmation of the lands, granted to his ancestors by Alexander II., in 1232. The parish of Closeburn was afterwards annexed to the abbey of Holyrood House, and the parish of Dalgarno, now included within the limits of Closeburn, to the abbey of Kelso; but the family of Kirkpatrick possessed the patronage of both churches, as well as the larger part of the lands. In the year 1606, these churches were united by the General Assembly, held at Linlithgow, in which union they continued till 1648, when they were disjoined, and so remained until 1697, when Dalgarno was again annexed to Closeburn.The parish is ten miles in extreme length, and seven and a half in extreme breadth, and contains 30,189 acres. One of its principal features is the valley of Closeburn, situated in the mountain range, composed chiefly of transition rock, which runs across the island from the German to the Atlantic Ocean. The surface of the parish gradually rises from the western extremity, till it attains its highest elevation at the north-eastern boundary, at which part Queensberry hill, one of the highest in the south of Scotland, and sometimes called the Queen of Hills, rises 2140 feet above the level of the sea. The land in the western and midland districts is chiefly in tillage; but there are considerable plantations towards the east and north, and in this direction the high grounds consist of extensive moors, unfit for the plough, though affording good pasture for sheep. The river Nith runs along the south-western, and the Cample along the western, boundary of the parish; and among the numerous smaller streams, the most distinguished is the Crickup, which, falling over a precipice ninety feet high, forms the celebrated cascade known by the name of "Grey mare's tail." The course of this stream is beautified by much bold and romantic scenery, especially at Crickup Linn, a second fall, where the stream, running through old worn massive rocks, and shrouded from the eye in its passage by rich and varied foliage, presents a singularly interesting scene, which the author of Waverley has compared to the retreat of Balfour of Burleigh, in Lanarkshire.Along the river Nith the soil is a fine rich loam; higher up, it is a sandy gravel to the depth of twenty feet, well adapted to barley and turnips; and as the ground further rises, it is of the same nature, but strong and deep, with a mixture of clay, which feature it retains till it reaches the high land. About 5683 acres are under tillage, and 23,006 in pasture; the natural woods and plantations cover about 1500 acres. All kinds of grain are produced, with green crops; the cattle consist of the Galloway and Ayrshire breeds, to the raising of which great attention is paid, and the sheep are of the short black-faced breed. A lime rock was discovered many years ago, of great extent, of which advantage was taken by the proprietor of the parish, who applied the contents of it so plentifully, that very large quantities of sterile ground, much of which was moor, was brought into cultivation; and from this period the inhabitants date the rise of their present flourishing system of husbandry. A plantation of ninety acres was recently cut down, consisting of Scotch fir sixty years old, and was disposed of for £10,000; the soil upon which it grew was poor and sandy, and not worth sixpence per acre when the trees were planted. The rateable annual value of the parish is £11,873. The rocks consist of greywacke, limestone, and old red sandstone. The limestone quarry consists of two distinct beds of different qualities, separated from each other by about eighteen feet of impure limestone; the upper bed is of too caustic a nature for the soil, but the under bed is wrought, and supplies an immense quantity of lime manure. Closeburn Hall, the seat of Sir Charles Stuart Menteath, Bart., is a spacious structure after the Grecian style, and situated in one of the most beautiful valleys in the south of Scotland. There are two turnpike-roads, one of which connects Annandale with Nithsdale, and the other forms a part of the great road from Carlisle to Glasgow, by Dumfries, and, at a distance of four miles northward, has a branch to Edinburgh. The Ecclesiastical affairs are directed by the presbytery of Penpont and synod of Dumfries; patron, Sir Charles Menteath. There is a substantial and commodious manse, with a glebe of 11 acres, valued at £19 per annum; the minister's stipend is £234. 19. 3. The church was built in 1741, and has, within these few years, been thoroughly repaired; it is a handsome building, conveniently situated, and will accommodate 650 persons with sittings. The principal school, which is of some eminence, is a free school, conducted by a rector and assistants. It was endowed in 1723, by John Wallace, Esq., a native of the parish, and a wealthy Glasgow merchant, who left £1600, part of which was to be appropriated to the erection of premises, and the remainder to be invested in land for the master's salary, which at the present time amounts to £500 a year. In this valuable institution, called Wallace Hall from the name of its founder, the children of the parish may obtain gratuitous instruction in Greek, Latin, book-keeping, and all the ordinary branches of education. The chief relic of antiquity is the castle, which is a vaulted quadrilateral tower, about fifty feet high, thirty-three long, and forty-five broad; the walls of the ground-floor are twelve feet thick, and it is conjectured, from the general style of the building, that it must be 800 years old. There are also several large cairns in the parish.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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