Bathan's, Abbey St.

   BATHAN'S, ABBEY ST., a parish, in the county of Berwick, 7 miles (N. by W.) from Dunse; containing 146 inhabitants. The name of this place has been successively written St. Boythan's, Bothan's, and Bathan's, which last form it has preserved since the earlier part of the last century. The word Abbey, it is supposed, was prefixed to distinguish it from the parish of Gifford or Yester, in East Lothian, which was also called St. Bothan's, but had no convent; the name Bathan was derived from the patron saint, who laboured here in the early part of the 7th century, and to whom the first church was dedicated. Near this church, which was destroyed more than once by fire, during the incursions of the Danes, a convent of Cistercian nuns was founded between the years 1184 and 1200, with the title of priory, by Ada, daughter to King William the Lion, and wife to Patrick, Earl of Dunbar. This institution, by the liberal benefactions of the foundress and her husband, and various other persons, acquired considerable estates, in addition to the patronage of the church, by which the nuns were enabled, through the appointment of a vicar, to appropriate to themselves the revenues of the living. A chapel was also founded in the parish, about a quarter of a mile from the nunnery, on the same side of the river Whiteadder, the foundations of which lately existed. At Strafontane, too, which is now part of the parish, but was anciently distinct, an hospital was founded in the reign of David I., which, at one time, was dependent on the abbey of Alnwick, but was transferred, in 1437, by the abbot of that place, to the monastery of Dryburgh, and came afterwards into the possession of the collegiate church of Dunglass, and was ultimately converted into a church.
   The mean length of the parish, from east to west, is about 3¼ miles, and its breadth 2½ it contains about 5000 acres, of which 2600 are hilly pasture never cultivated, 100 wood, and 2300 arable. It is situated among the Lammermoor hills, and the surface consequently consists of hills and slopes, the former of which are, for the most part, covered with heath, and rise to various elevations, of between 300 and 400 feet above the intervening vales, and then spread out into extensive flats. The level grounds on the banks of the streams which receive the drainage of the hills, are in general fertile, as well as many of the slopes, but the upper lands are altogether barren. The Whiteadder is the only river; after a course of about 12 miles, in which it is joined by the Dye and many smaller streams, it assumes, in its passage through the parish, a beautiful meandering form, and receives, besides many rivulets, the tributaries of the Monynut and the Ware, which extend its width to about eighty feet. A bridge constructed of wood, and raised upon stone piers, has very recently been erected across the river, on the tension-bar principle, and is much and deservedly admired for its simplicity and elegance. The soil is equal, if not superior, to any part of the Lammermoor, but is in some parts of meagre impoverished quality, and much better suited to the pasturage of sheep and cattle than the growth of corn; the produce principally comprises oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips. The sheep are the Cheviots, mixed with a few of the black-faced, and the ewes of each of these are, in many cases, crossed with the Leicesters; considerable improvements have recently been made in husbandry, consisting chiefly in drainage, and the reclaiming of waste land. The rateable annual value of the parish is £1397. Veins of copper-ore have been discovered on the estate of St. Bathan's, and were worked in 1828, by an English mining company; but after the first attempt the undertaking was abandoned. There is no village; but a group of pleasing and interesting objects in the beautiful and romantic vale through which the Whiteadder runs, includes the house of St. Bathan's, a corn-mill, the church, the manse standing on an acclivity in the midst of trees, and the school-house. The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Dunse and synod of Merse and Teviotdale; the patronage belongs to the Crown, and the minister's stipend is £155. 9. 3., with a manse, built in 1822, and a glebe of 14 acres, worth £13 per annum. The church, which is an ancient edifice in good repair, is conveniently situated, and accommodates 140 persons; the east window, of pointed architecture, is still in some measure preserved. When lately repairing the north wall of the edifice, a recumbent statue of a nun was found, but without any inscription: in this wall was formerly an arched door, now built up, which communicated with the monastic buildings. There is a parochial school, in which the usual branches of education are taught, with mathematics, and Latin, and of which the master has a salary of £26. 8., with about £12 fees, and a house. In a woody nook at a little distance from the church is a spring named St. Bathan's well, formerly esteemed of miraculous power in healing diseases, and to which the superstitious still attach many surprising virtues.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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