Cockburnspath


Cockburnspath
   COCKBURNSPATH, with Old Cambus, a parish, in the county of Berwick, 8 miles (N. W.) from Press; containing 1149 inhabitants, of whom about 230 are in the village. This place was called anciently Colbrandspath, from Colbrand, a Danish chieftain who is said to have established himself in this part of the country, and subsequently Cockburnspath, from its having, at a very early period, been the baronial seat of the family of Cockburn. It comprises the united parishes whose names it bears, and of which the latter, Old Cambus, was annexed to the former, at a period not distinctly known. The castle, whether founded by Colbrand or by Cockburn, appears to have formed part of the possessions of Patrick Dunbar, afterwards Earl of Dunbar and March, who, when this district was infested by a daring band of robbers, mustered his retainers, and, attacking them in a body, killed 600 of their number. For this service, the king created him Earl of March, and conferred upon him the lands of Colbrandspath, together with the castle, which, and that of Dunbar, were the most important fortresses in this part of the kingdom. The lands appear to have subsequently been included in the royal demesnes of many successive kings, and to have been given as part of the dowry of several of their daughters; they afterwards became the property of the Earl of Home, from whom, about 200 years since, they passed to the Halls. Little more of historical importance is recorded in connexion with the place than the passage through the parish of the English army, under the Earl of Hertford, on his invasion of Scotland in 1544, and of that under the Earl of Somerset, in 1548.
   The parish is bounded on the north-east by the German Ocean, and on the north-west by the county of Haddington, and comprises 9800 acres, of which 5200 are arable, 600 woods and plantations, and the remainder hilly pasture and waste. The surface is greatly diversified with hill and dale, and, in many parts, with narrow deep glens through which small rivulets flow, in rugged channels, into the sea; the hills are generally of spherical form, and the highest of them are not more than from 500 to 600 feet above the sea. The scenery is, in some parts, highly romantic; the glens are distinguished by a great variety of features, combining rocks and woods and streams which, frequently obstructed in their progress, form some beautiful cascades. On the precipitous ridge which incloses the Tower glen, are the remains of the ancient castle; and over another, called the Pease Den, which is remarkable for its depth, has been thrown a bridge of singular construction. The coast is bold and precipitous, and is indented with several small bays, of which the most important and the most picturesque is that named the Cove; it is completely inclosed, except at the entrance, by precipitous rocks rising to the height of one hundred feet, and, by the recent construction of a breakwater, has been formed into a very commodious harbour for fishing-boats. Numerous excavations formed by nature in the rocky shores of the bay, have been appropriated as warehouses; and one of them has been wrought into a tunnel, sixty yards in length, serving as a means of communication with the shore, and affording a facility for landing goods on the quay.
   The soil is various; extremely rich in the immediate vicinity of the sea, and becoming lighter at a greater distance from the coast, till it degenerates into hilly pasture. The chief crops are, grain of all kinds, potatoes, and turnips; the system of agriculture is in an advanced state, and the rotation plan of husbandry generally practised. Considerable attention is paid to the management of live stock; the sheep are, nearly in equal numbers, of the Leicestershire and Cheviot breeds, the former on the lower lands, and the latter on the higher, some of a cross between the two. The rateable annual value of the parish is £8648. The woods are mostly of oak, for which the soil appears to be peculiarly favourable, beech, chesnut, ash, and sycamore; and the plantations, fir, with larch, intermixed with various kinds of forest trees. The substrata are, greywacke, greywacke-slate, and sandstone, of which only the last is quarried; it is of a coarse quality, and of the old red formation, being chiefly valuable for its property of withstanding the action of heat. The village, which had fallen into a state of neglect, has, within the last forty years, been greatly improved, under the patronage of Lady Helen Hall; it is partly inhabited by persons employed in the fishery, and contains a subscription library of considerable extent. Great facility of communication is afforded by the road from Edinburgh to London, which passes through the centre of the parish, and by numerous handsome and picturesque bridges over the many deep ravines. The Pease bridge, of four arches, about a mile and a half from the village, is strikingly romantic in its appearance; it is 300 feet in length, and nearly 130 feet above the bottom of the ravine. Another bridge, over the Dunglass glen, of modern construction and of great beauty, has one spacious arch, spanning the ravine at an elevation of ninety feet above the stream that flows beneath it; and not far distant is a magnificent bridge for the line of the great North-British railway. A fair, chiefly for toys, is held on the second Tuesday in August. A considerable fishery is carried on at Cove; the fish chiefly taken are, cod, haddocks, whiting, ling, skate, halibut, and turbot. Lobsters and crabs are taken in abundance, in the season, and are sent, by shipping from the port of Dunbar, to London; and herrings were formerly caught in profusion, but, of late years, few have appeared on this part of the coast. A convenient harbour was constructed in 1831, for the accommodation of the fishing-boats, and capable also of affording shelter to vessels of larger burthen, of which several, laden with coal, and bone-dust for manure, frequently put in here, and deliver their cargoes. The expense of completing the harbour, which was very considerable, was defrayed partly by a grant from the government, and partly by the late Sir John Hall.
   The parish is in the presbytery of Dunbar and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, and in the patronage of the Crown; the minister's stipend is £245. 13. 3., with a manse, and the glebe is valued at £27 per annum. The church, a very ancient structure, with a round tower, and apparently built in the 12th century, was fully repaired in 1807, and reseated in 1826. There is a place of worship in the parish for members of the United Secession Synod. The parochial school affords instruction to about ninety scholars; the master has a salary of £30, with £45 fees, and a house and garden. There are several vestiges of ancient fortifications, of which the chief are on Ervieside hill, and on the ridge of Dunglass Den; many urns, also, of Roman pottery have been at various times discovered by the plough. In the centre of the parish are the ruins of the castle of Cockburnspath, apparently erected to defend the pass of the ravine at the entrance of which it is situated; and in the Old Cambus district, are the ruins of the ancient church, seated on a lofty precipice overlooking the sea. It was dedicated to St. Helen, and is said to have been erected, in gratitude for their preservation, by three Northumbrian princesses, who, fleeing into Scotland for refuge, were wrecked on this part of the coast.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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