RERWICK, a parish, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, 6½ miles (S. E. by E.) from Kirkcudbright; containing, with the villages of Auchincairn and Dundrennan, 1692 inhabitants, of whom 1117 are in the rural districts of the parish. This place, in various records called Dundrennan and Monkland, is conjectured to have received its present name, which is of uncertain origin, from the position of Auchincairn at the head of a creek in the Solway Frith. It derives its chief historical importance from the foundation of the celebrated abbey of Dundrennan, and from its having afforded to Mary, Queen of Scots, in her retreat from the battle of Langside, an asylum where she passed the night before her embarkation for England; both of which events are detailed in the separate notice of the village of Dundrennan. The parish, which is bounded on the south and south-east by the Frith, is about ten miles in length and six miles in average breadth; comprising an area of 20,447 acres, whereof 13,088 are arable and in good cultivation, 561 woodland and plantations, and the remainder chiefly moor and waste. The surface is rugged, and abruptly varied with hills, which towards the northern boundary attain a mountainous elevation; the loftiest, Bengairn, rising to the height of 1200 feet above the level of the sea. From the summit of this hill, which is covered with heath, and surmounted by an ancient cairn whence it takes its name, an extensive prospect is obtained over the whole length of the Solway Frith and the English coast, with the mountains of Cumberland, the Isle of Man, and the mountains of Morne, in Ireland. Several burns, descending from the higher grounds, flow through the parish into the Frith, acquiring in their course sufficient power to turn mills. The coast is indented with numerous bays: the chief are, Auchincairn, at the entrance of which is the verdant island of Heston, affording excellent pasture for sheep; Balcarry; Burnfoot; and Mulloch, at the south-western extremity of the parish; all of which might be made good harbours at a very inconsiderable expense.
   The soil is in general wet and spongy, but by careful management is rendered productive; and good crops of oats, barley, and potatoes are obtained. Wheat is raised only in small quantities; but from the improvements in husbandry which have recently taken place, there is every prospect of advancement. The lands have been drained and partly inclosed, and extensive plantations have been formed around the seats of the principal proprietors. A very large proportion of the land is appropriated to pasturing black-cattle, to the rearing of which much attention is paid; and great numbers are annually sent to the south of England when three years old, and then fattened for the London markets. The surplus grain, and the fat-cattle and sheep, beyond the supply of the home market, are forwarded to Liverpool. The hills are principally of granite; and the substrata towards the coast, freestone of excellent quality, of which great quantities have been quarried for building: in the rocks that overhang the rivulet in the hill of Screll, are found rock crystals of purple hue, of a prismatic form, and beautifully transparent. An iron-mine has been opened under the management of an English company, from which nearly 3500 tons of excellent ore are annually raised, and sent chiefly to Birmingham; and in the island of Heston is a copper-mine leased to an English tenant, of which the produce is sent to Swansea. The rateable annual value of the parish amounts to £10,240. The mansion-houses are, Dundrennan, the seat of Thomas Maitland Esq.; Orroland, Orchardton, Netherlaw, Balcarry, Collin, Nestwood, and Port-Mary. The only villages are Auchincairn and Dundrennan. A fair is held annually in August, but very little business is now transacted; and facility of internal communication is afforded by good roads, and of intercourse with distant places by the harbours on the coast of the Frith. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Kirkcudbright and synod of Galloway: the minister's stipend is £232. 19.2., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £40 per annum; patron, the Crown. The church is an ancient structure, successively enlarged in the years 1743, 1790, and 1828, and containing 565 sittings. In the village of Auchincairn are places of worship for Baptists and members of the Free Church. There are two parochial schools; one at Dundrennan, of which the master has a salary of £30; and one at Auchincairn, of which the master has £21. 6. 8.: each of the masters has also a house and garden, and the school fees of the two average about £60 annually. There are some Druidical remains, and numerous Roman, Saxon, and Danish camps, within the parish; and in the rocks on the coast, at Barlocco, are two spacious caverns of romantic appearance, called the White and Black Cove. The venerable remains of the abbey are described in the article on Dundrennan.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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