- TONGLAND, a parish, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, 2 miles (N. N. E.) from Kirkcudbright; containing 826 inhabitants, of whom 31 are in the village. This parish, the name of which is of very doubtful origin, is bounded on the east by the river Dee, separating it from the parish of Kelton; and on the west by the river Tarff, dividing it from the parish of Twynholm. From the confluence of these rivers at its southern extremity, the parish extends for nearly eight miles towards the north, gradually increasing from less than half a mile to about three miles in breadth, and comprising an area of about 6138 acres; 1346 are arable, 2792 meadow and pasture, and the remainder, with the exception of a few acres of woodland and plantations, moor and waste. The surface is divided in the southern and central portions by a narrow and uneven ridge, which gradually increases in height from the junction of the two rivers; in the northern portion it expands into broken moorlands, interspersed with irregular tracts of partially cultivated land, and with rugged valleys whose acclivities are partly clothed with wood. The Tarff has its source in the Loch Whinyion, in the adjoining parish of Twynholm, and, after winding through the western district of this parish in a beautifully limpid stream, runs into the Dee at Compston Castle; it abounds with yellow trout and herling, and occasionally with salmon. In its course it forms several romantic cascades, of which the principal is the Linn of Lairdmannoch, where its water falls from a height of nearly sixty feet into a dark and deep pool. The scenery of the Dee is remarkably picturesque, along the whole of the four miles for which it forms the boundary of the parish; its banks are planted with oak, birch, ash, elm, alder, and hazel, and in many places it forces its way with great impetuosity between rugged and precipitous rocks rising to the height of seventy or eighty feet.The soil varies greatly in different parts, but is mostly fertile, and in some parts exuberantly rich; the crops are, oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips, which last are cultivated to a great extent, and in every variety. The system of agriculture is improved; the farms are usually of moderate extent, averaging from 300 to 500 acres; the principal manure is lime, and the rotation system of husbandry is generally practised. The farmbuildings are commodiously arranged. The cattle are of the Galloway breed, except on some of the dairyfarms for which the Ayrshire breed is preferred; the sheep on the arable farms are the Leicestershire, and on the moorlands mostly the Cheviot and the black-faced. The substrata are chiefly porphyry and clay-slate, of which the rocks principally consist; the bed of the Dee is entirely slate. An attempt was made some time since in search of coal, but without the least success: lime, coal, and bone-dust for manure, are supplied from the landing-place at Tongland bridge. The plantations consist of oak, ash, lime, larch, and Scotch spruce and silver firs; and around the church are some fine plane and beech trees, of more than one hundred years' growth. The rateable annual value of the parish is £6283. The principal mansions are, Argrennan, the seat of Robert Ker, Esq., a handsome modern house, beautifully situated; and Barcaple, Valleyfield, and Dunjop, which are also modern residences. There is no village of any importance; neither is there any trade or manufacture carried on, the population being wholly agricultural. Communication is afforded by the turnpike-road from Carlisle to Portpatrick, which passes through the centre of the parish, and by other roads in excellent repair. There are three bridges over the Tarff; and the river Dee, which is navigable for vessels of forty tons to Tongland bridge, affords means of conveyance for supplies of coal and lime from Cumberland, and of bone-dust for manure from Ireland and Liverpool, and also facility for the export of grain, potatoes, and other agricultural produce, for which there is a commodious wharf. The bridge is a handsome structure of one arch, 110 feet in span, erected under the superintendence of Mr. Telford, engineer, at a cost of £7700.The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Kirkcudbright and synod of Galloway. The minister's stipend is £158. 17. 7., of which about one-tenth is paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £40 per annum: patron, the Crown. The church, situated on the Dee, at the southern extremity of the parish, was erected in 1813; it is in the early English style of architecture, with a square embattled tower, and contains 420 sittings. The parochial school is attended by about ninety children; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house and garden, in addition to the fees. There is a school for females, of which the mistress receives a salary of £10, raised by subscription; and a Sunday school is taught by the same person. The only remains of the abbey of Tongland, founded in the 12th century by Fergus, Lord of Galloway, for Præmonstratensian canons, are a small low arch forming part of the northern wall of the old church: in digging in the vicinity for a garden, on the farm of Kirkconnel, part of an ancient cemetery was explored, in which was found a gold ring, but without either name or date. There are some remains of a Druidical circle, of eleven upright stones, with one in the centre; the tops are very little above the surface of the moor on which they are situated. At a short distance to the west is a large cairn.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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