Urr

   URR, a parish, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, 3½ miles (E. N. E.) from Castle-Douglas; containing, with the villages of Dalbeattie, Hardgate, Haugh, and Springholm, and part of the village of Crocketford, 3096 inhabitants, of whom 996 are in the rural districts. This place, of which the name is of very obscure origin, claims a considerable degree of antiquity; and from the remains of some fortified camps, and the discovery of Roman coins and military weapons, it is supposed to have been visited by the Romans. The parish is bounded on the west by the river Urr, and is nearly sixteen miles in length, and rather more than two and a half in average breadth, comprising an area of 30,000 acres, of which 25,000 are arable, 1000 woodland and plantations, and the remainder meadow, pasture, and waste. The surface, though for the greater part level, is diversified by a range of heights called the Larg hills, which have an elevation of 600 feet above the level of the sea; and the scenery, being enriched with wood, is generally of pleasing character. The only lakes of any importance are those of Milton and Achenreoch, of which the former is about three, and the latter two miles and a half in circumference; they are both situated near the northern boundary of the parish, and contain perch and pike. The river Urr has its source in Loch Urr, on the confines of Dumfries-shire, and flows southward into the Solway Frith, receiving in its course several small tributaries, whereof the chief is the burn of Kirkgunzeon, which is navigable for vessels of sixty tons from Dalbeattie to its influx. Several kinds of fresh-water fish are taken in the river, which formerly abounded also with salmon.
   The soil, except in the upland parts of the parish, which are moorland, is generally, though light, of great fertility, and in a state of high cultivation: oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, and turnips are the chief crops. The system of husbandry has rapidly improved within the last half century, and large quantities of grain and other produce are exported to Liverpool and other English markets. Great attention is paid to the breeds of livestock; black-cattle, horses, sheep, and swine are reared in considerable numbers; and since the introduction of bone-dust as manure for turnips, many sheep have been fattened for the market, and sent by steamers to Liverpool. The plantations are extensive, and in a thriving state; they consist of oak, ash, elm, and Scotch fir, for which the soil seems very well adapted, and of which many trees have attained a luxuriant growth. The principal substrata are limestone and ironstone, the former of very hard and compact texture, and the latter also of good quality, and in great abundance; but from the want of coal, neither of them has been wrought. The hills to the south of the parish are of a light grey granite, and quarries have been opened, from which have been raised materials for building the houses in the village of Dalbeattie. The rateable annual value of the parish is £10,457. Spottes, the seat of William Young Herries, Esq., an ancient structure situated on the east bank of the Urr, is the principal mansion-house. The villages are described under their respective heads. Fairs, chiefly for hiring farm-servants, are held at Dalbeattie in April and October; and facility of communication is afforded by the turnpike-road from Carlisle to Portpatrick, which passes through the parish.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery and synod of Dumfries. The minister's stipend is £232. 19. 6., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £30 per annum; patron, the Crown. The church, erected in 1815, at an expense of £1000, is a neat plain structure containing 815 sittings. A chapel in connexion with the Established Church, of which the minister is appointed by the managers and male communicants, was recently erected in the village of Dalbeattie, where, also, are a Free church, a place of worship for the United Christian Congregation, and a Roman Catholic chapel. There are a place of worship for members of the United Secession at Hardgate, and one for Reformed Presbyterians at Springholm. Parochial schools are maintained at Urr, Dalbeattie, and Milton; the masters have respectively salaries of £22. 8. 9., £18, and £11, in addition to their fees, which average respectively £21, £23, and £15 per annum. There are several moats in the parish, of which that of Urr is supposed to be one of the most extensive in the kingdom; it is situated on the bank of the river, about half a mile from the church, and is surrounded with a fosse. At Edingham was found, some years since, a tripod of Roman workmanship, of a very hard metal, apparently a composition of tin and copper; and three small silver coins of Adrian, Tiberius, and Commodus, have been discovered about a mile from the moat. A Roman javelin, also, has been found in a peat-moss in the upper part of the parish. The Rev. Dr. Alexander Murray, an eminent professor of the Oriental languages, was for some time minister of this parish.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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