Colinton


Colinton
   COLINTON, a parish, in the county of Edinburgh, including the villages of Hailes-Quarry, Juniper-Green, Longstone, Slateford, and Swanston; and containing 2195 inhabitants, of whom 120 are in the village of Colinton, 4 miles (S. W.) from Edinburgh. The name of this place, sometimes written Colington, was formerly Hailes, a word signifying "mounds" or "hillocks," and accurately descriptive of the appearance of the surface of the parish. About the close of the 17th century, the designation Colinton chiefly prevailed, having, for some time previously, been used in honour of a family of that name, who had come into possession of the chief estates. The district appears to have been, in remote times, the scene of important military operations; there were remains of a large encampment lately existing at Comiston, and extensive cairns in the vicinity, whence fragments of old military implements were sometimes taken. The Kel Stane, "the stone of the battle," which is a large upright stone, from time immemorial also called Camus Stone, renders it probable that this spot was originally the encampment of some Danish forces. In the barony of Redhall formerly stood a strong castle, which, in 1572, was garrisoned by the regent Mar, and the king's partly. In 1650, it was defended vigorously against Cromwell and his army, by the laird and his veteran band, who, upon the castle being taken, was commended by Cromwell for his bravery, and set at liberty. The ecclesiastical memorials of the parish reach back to the commencement of the 13th century, when the lands were granted to the monks of Dunfermline by Ethelred, son of Malcolm Canmore, and confirmed to them by his brother, David I., and by pope Gregory, in 1234. The vicarage, however, was taken from the monks, and given first to the canons of Holyrood, and afterwards to the canons of St. Anthony at Leith, which grant was confirmed by Kennedy, Bishop of St. Andrew's, in 1445. The superiority of the lands of Wester Hailes remained with the canons till the Reformation, and that of Easter Hailes continned with the monks till the same period.
   The parish is of an irregular form, about three and a half miles in length, from north to south, and about three miles in breadth, from east to west, and contains 5070 acres. The surface and scenery are richly diversified, presenting on the south-eastern boundary the northern range of the Pentland hills, rising 1600 feet above the sea, and from the skirts of which the ground slopes gradually to the level of the Water of Leith, which flows through the lower part of the parish. In the direction of the north-east, the elevations of the Fir hill and Craig-Lockhart hill form an interruption to the general declivity, and supply romantic features in the landscape, enriched by elegant mansions surrounded by gardens and plantations. The distant views from the higher lands embrace the capital, with its numerous spires and romantic castle, the Frith of Forth and the coast of Fife, the Ochils, and the celebrated Grampians, which, in the north-west, bound the prospect. The Water of Leith, which is the principal stream, though subject to repeated sinkings and swellings, is used to a great extent for the purposes of commerce and domestic convenience, turning no less than sixteen mills, and having a considerable bleachfield on its banks. There is also a variety of copious and excellent springs, from which, for a very long period, water was conducted in a regular and uniform manner for the supply of Edinburgh.
   About 3436 acres are either in tillage or fit for tillage; 1356 are hilly grounds under pasture, and 278 are in plantations. The arable lands lie from 250 to 600 feet above the level of the sea, and produce good crops of all kinds of grain, potatoes, turnips, beans, peas, &c. Few sheep are kept, except on the Pentland hills, and on Craig-Lockhart, consisting chiefly of Cheviots, with a few Leicesters; the number of cattle reared is also very small. Very considerable improvements in husbandry have been made within these few years, chiefly in deep draining, and a proper system of cropping. As, however, a large proportion of the ground rests upon a subsoil of stiff clay, the furrow drain and deep plough are still requisite, to facilitate the productive powers of the land. The rateable annual value of the parish is £12,314. The great abundance and variety of the subterraneous contents of the parish give it altogether a geological character. The Pentland hills consist of claystone, porphyry, and felspar-porphyry; the crags of Caerketan are clayey felspar, strongly mixed with black oxide of iron. Among the Pentlands, also, are found boulders of granite, gneiss, &c., with jaspers and malactite. Craig-Lockhart hill is basaltic rock, and the bed of the Leith water abounds with highly interesting mineral productions, among which are fossil remains of fishes and vegetables. There are two freestone quarries, large quantities of the contents of which, at different times, have been conveyed to Edinburgh for building materials; the value of one of them to the lessor, some years ago, was £9000 annually, but at present the revenue is not more than £1500.
   Several beautiful mansions adorn the parish, of which Colinton House was built in the beginning of the present century, and is agreeably situated, commanding extensive prospects to the north and east. Dreghorn Castle, built about the same time, stands encompassed with thick plantations, some parts of which consist of ancient beech-trees, conferring a venerable and majestic appearance. Comiston House and Craig-Lockhart House were both built but a few years ago, and are pleasantly situated, especially the latter, having for its site a wooded bank, gently declining to the margin of the Leith water. In a hollow which commands the pass through the Pentland hills, near the House of Bonally, stands a Peel tower, in the midst of beautifully romantic scenery, built by Lord Cockburn. The villages of Colinton and Slateford have each a post-office. Facility of communication is afforded by the road from Edinburgh to Lanark, and the Union canal enters the parish at Slateford, and, being carried over the valley of the Leith water by an aqueduct of eight arches, passes along the lower side of it for about two miles and a half. Of the mills, ten are meal-mills, one is for sawing wood, another for beating hemp and lint, one for grinding magnesia, and the others are employed in the manufacture of paper, which has existed in Colinton for upwards of a century. The ecclesiastical affairs are directed by the presbytery of Edinburgh and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; patrons, the communicants. The minister's stipend is £221, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £27 per annum. The church, which is very ancient, is beautifully situated in the vicinity of Colinton House; it was rebuilt in 1771, and in 1817 new-roofed, and in the year 1837 it was enlarged and re-seated. There is a place of worship for members of the Free Church; also a chapel at Slateford, built in 1784, the minister of which has a salary of £130, chiefly from pew-rents, and a dwelling-house, with garden. A parochial school is supported, in which the ordinary branches of education are taught, and classical and mathematical instruction, with French, may be obtained; the master's salary is £34, with about £40 fees, and a house with garden. There are two libraries; and a gardeners' society awards small premiums for the superior cultivation of vegetables, fruits, and flowers.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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