Oxnam

   OXNAM, a parish, in the district of Jedburgh, county of Roxburgh, 4 miles (E. S. E.) from Jedburgh; containing 653 inhabitants. This place, of which the name, anciently Oxenham, is supposed to be derived from the number of oxen in the immediate vicinity, formed part of the possessions of Gaufred de Percy, who granted a portion of the lands to the abbey of Jedburgh, then recently founded, which grant was confirmed by Malcolm IV. and William the Lion, Kings of Scotland. The parish is bounded on the south by the county of Northumberland; it is about ten miles in length and five miles in extreme breadth, and comprises 21,120 acres, of which 3480 are arable, 650 woodland and plantations, and 16,990 hilly moorland, pasture, and waste. The surface is strikingly diversified with hills and dales: on the south is a small part of the Cheviot range, to the north of which are various hills of conical form and verdant aspect. The valley of the Oxnam, traversing the whole length of the parish, is pleasingly undulated, and enlivened with the meanderings of its beautiful stream, of which the banks are in many places richly crowned with wood. The scenery of the entire parish, indeed, is varied, comprehending much natural beauty, and many highly picturesque and romantic features. Among the principal rivers is the Oxnam, which has its source about two miles from the English border, and, winding through the valley and passing the village, receives numerous tributary streams from the higher lands in its course of nearly twelve miles, and falls into the Teviot near Crailing. The Coquet water, issuing from the mountains on the border, skirts the parish on the south for nearly a mile, and, flowing through part of Northumberland, falls into the sea between Alnwick and Coquet isle. The Kale, whose source is in the same heights, runs through the upper portion of the parish, and, after a circuitous course of about seventeen miles, joins the Teviot at Eckford; the Jed flows through a rocky channel, and forms the western boundary of the parish for nearly two miles. There are numerous springs of excellent water, and one supposed to be chalybeate, but which, on being analyzed, was found to possess no medicinal properties whatever. The streams all abound with trout, and salmon are sometimes taken in the Oxnam.
   The soil is various, combining almost every kind of loam, clay, and gravel, with considerable portions of heath and peat-moss: the crops are, oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, and turnips. The system of agriculture is in an improved state; the five-shift course of husbandry is prevalent, and the lands have been well drained and inclosed. Lime and bone-dust are the chief manures; and the crops are generally favourable and abundant, the farm houses and offices substantial and well arranged, and many of them handsome. Much care is bestowed upon the management of live-stock: the sheep are the Cheviots, with a few of the Leicestershire breed on the richer pastures; the cattle are all of the short-horned breed, and great attention is paid to their improvement. The woods consist of oak, ash, elm, and other trees, some of which are of stately growth; the plantations are chiefly larch and Scotch fir, intermixed with various kinds of forest-trees, and are in a very thriving condition. The principal substrata are, limestone, sandstone, and greywacke, with whinstone and seams of clay-slate: the limestone, from its great depth and the distance from coal, cannot be worked to advantage; but the sandstone, of durable quality and of a white colour, is quarried for building. The hills are mainly of trap-rock, and clay-porphyry is abundant, affording an ample supply of material for the roads; it is interspersed with veins of quartz, and the cavities abound with beautiful crystallized incrustations. Greenstone is also found in some places, intersected with veins of jasper. The manufacture of tiles, for which there is clay of good quality, has been recently commenced, and about twelve persons are at present employed. The parish has facility of communication with Jedburgh, Kelso, Hawick, and other places, by means of good roads, of which the turnpike-road from Edinburgh to Newcastle passes not far from Oxnam. A fair is held at Pennymuir in August for sheep and lambs, of which about 1400 are on the average sold; and on the 25th of March a statute fair is held for hiring shepherds and farm-servants. The rateable annual value of Oxnam is £7654.
   The parish is in the presbytery of Jedburgh and synod of Merse and Teviotdale, and patronage of the Crown: the minister's stipend is £227. 1. 7., with a manse, and the glebe is valued at £16 per annum. The church, erected in 1738, is a neat and substantial edifice in good repair, and is adapted for a congregation of 260 persons; the sittings are all free. The parochial school affords a liberal education to about forty children; the master has a salary of £25. 13. 4., with £12 fees, a house and garden, and £4. 3. 4., the interest arising from a bequest of Lady Yester for gratuitously teaching poor children. Lady Yester also bequeathed some cottages, and £1000 Scotch, for the relief of the poor not on the parish list; one cottage is still remaining, and the interest of the money, £4. 3. 4., is annually distributed among the most needy. There are some remains of the ancient chapel of Plenderleath, but the cemetery has long ceased to be used as a burial-place. Circular camps are found in various parts, the most conspicuous of which is situated on a height near Bloodylaws; and on a hill at Cunzierton is a British camp, with a double rampart surrounding the level summit of the hill. On the eminence called Pennymuir are the vestiges of a Roman camp of quadrilateral form, rounded at the angles, and comprising an area of about thirty acres; and the Roman road called Watling-street, leading to the northern parts of Britain, may be distinctly traced, for about six miles through the parish, to the camp at Pennymuir. There are numerous Druidical circles, of which two are tolerably entire, especially the smaller, sixteen yards in diameter; also numerous remains of ancient strongholds and towers, most probably erected during the times of the border warfare, as places of security, and for the concealment of cattle. To the west of one of these, called Henwood, is a rising ground named Galla-Know, formerly the place of execution for criminals; it is now inclosed and planted. In the heart of a natural amphitheatre, near the Crag Tower, is an artificial tumulus supposed to have been a place for dispensing justice. Various relics of antiquity have been found at different times, and some coins, among which was a shilling of Robert Bruce.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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