Torthorwald

   TORTHORWALD, a parish, in the county of Dumfries; containing, with the villages of Collin and Roucan, 1346 inhabitants, of whom 178 are in the village of Torthorwald, 4¼ miles (E. N. E.) from Dumfries. This place derives its name, signifying in the Saxon language the "Tower of Thor in the wood," from the ruins of an ancient castle nearly in the centre of the parish, which is said to have been originally surrounded by an extensive forest. Of this tower, which, from the remains, appears to have been erected during the Saxon heptarchy, little of the earlier history has been preserved, though probably it was raised in honour of Thor, the chief of the Saxon deities; it was subsequently the residence of the Torthorwald family, of whom David de Torthorwald swore fealty to Edward I. of England, at Berwick, in 1291. The castle and the lands were afterwards the property of Sir William Carlyle, Knt., who married the sister of Robert Bruce, and whose son obtained from that monarch a grant of the whole barony of Torthorwald, which in the reign of James III. was confirmed to his descendant, Sir John Carlyle, who was elevated to the peerage by the title of Lord Carlyle. After the decease of Michael, Lord Carlyle, without issue male, the estate passed to his grand-daughter, Elizabeth, who conveyed it, with the title, to Sir James Douglas, on the death of whose son, in 1638, the title became extinct, and the estate went into the possession of William, the first earl of Queensberry, whose descendant, the marquess, is now the principal proprietor of Torthorwald.
   The parish is bounded by the river Lochar, separating it from the parish of Dumfries, and is about six miles and a half in extreme length, varying greatly in breadth, and comprising 5500 acres; 2600 are arable, 1050 meadow and pasture, and the remainder, of which but little is capable of being reclaimed, moss and waste. The surface in the west, along the river, is low, forming a portion of the tract called Lochar Moss; but towards the east it rises into a ridge of hills of considerable elevation, of which one, the Beacon, commands an extensive view over the surrounding country, embracing the southern portion of Dumfriesshire, the eastern parts of Galloway, the coast of Cumberland, Solway Frith, and the Irish Channel. The river, which for more than seven miles forms the western boundary of the parish, flows in a gently winding course southward, through the centre of Lochar Moss, and, deviating towards the east, falls into the Solway Frith. This river, from the level nature of the ground, has scarcely any perceptible current; it abounds with pike, perch, trout, and eels, and the adjacent moss is frequented by numbers of wild-ducks, teal, plovers, and moor-fowl of various kinds.
   The soil is various; for some breadth to the east of the moss, light and sandy, and well adapted for turnips, potatoes, and barley; for some distance up the sides of the ridge, of stronger quality, and equally fertile, producing excellent crops of wheat; and thence to the summit of the ridge, of an inferior description, cold, and resting on a substratum of retentive till. The crops are, oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, and turnips, with the usual grasses. The system of husbandry has been gradually improving; and the lands have mostly been inclosed, partly with stone dykes, which, however, soon fall into decay from the perishable nature of the stone, and partly with hedges of thorn, which, with moderate attention, are kept in good order. The lands in general are better adapted for tillage than for pasture; but owing to the introduction of turnip-husbandry, 2000 sheep are upon the average annually fed on the turnips, and sent to distant markets. Considerable attention is also paid to the management of the dairy-farms, on which about 360 cows are pastured; and large quantities of milk, butter, eggs, and poultry are forwarded to Dumfries. The cattle, of which about 500 are reared yearly, are of the Galloway breed; and 400 swine are annually fattened. There are scarcely any plantations, and no remains of ancient wood, though the numbers of trunks of trees dug up in the mosses afford sufficient evidence that the parish was originally thickly wooded; oak, fir, birch, and hazel trees, several of them of great size, are met with in a sound state, and used by carpenters for various purposes. The substrata are chiefly greywacke and transition rock, of which the ridge is chiefly composed; stones found on the surface of the lands are employed for constructing dykes for inclosures on some of the farms, but there are neither quarries nor mines. The rateable annual value of the parish is £4960.
   The village of Torthorwald is situated on the acclivity of the ridge, about half way from its base, and on the road from Lockerbie to Dumfries; it consists chiefly of clusters of cottages, irregularly built, and inhabited by persons employed in agriculture, and in the various handicraft trades requisite for the neighbourhood. Letters are delivered regularly every day from the postoffice at Dumfries; and facility of communication is afforded by turnpike-roads, which pass for more than seven miles through the parish, and by roads kept in repair by statute labour. The villages of Collin and Roucan are described under their respective heads. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery and synod of Dumfries; the minister's stipend is £220. 15. 10., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20 per annum; patron, the Marquess of Queensberry. The church, conveniently situated nearly in the centre of the parish, is a neat substantial structure, erected in 1782, and containing 500 sittings, all of which are free. There are two parochial schools; one is near the church, and the other in the village of Collin. The master of the former has a salary of £31. 6. 6., with a house and garden; and the fees average about £28, in addition to which he receives the interest of a bequest of £160. The master of the school at Collin has a salary of £20, with a house, and three-quarters of an acre of land reclaimed from the moss; and the school fees average £20. The number of children attending these schools is 150, on the average. The remains of the ancient castle are situated on rising ground near the church, and form an interesting and picturesque feature in the scenery of the parish; the building appears to have been strongly fortified; and the walls, of extraordinary thickness, seem likely, from their solidity, to bid defiance to the ravages of time. On the west, and also on the east, of the castle, are the remains of a British camp, thirty yards in diameter, and surrounded in some parts with two, and in others with three, strong intrenchments. The parish was the burying-place of the family of the first lord Douglas of Dornock, who was proprietor of the castle, and on whose decease it was suffered to fall into ruin.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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