- YETHOLM, a parish, in the district of Kelso, county of Roxburgh; containing 1295 inhabitants, of whom 326 are in Kirk-Yetholm and 618 in TownYetholm, 8 miles (S. E. by E.) from Kelso. This place derives its name, signifying "the Hamlet of the Gate," from its position on the confines of Northumberland, from which its two villages are separated only by an open narrow valley which, during the border warfare, afforded a facility of entrance into either country for the too frequent purposes of depredation. Few events of historical importance are recorded with reference to the place. It is said, however, to have been selected by Douglas as the rendezvous of the Scottish army previously to the battle of Otterburn, and it was the place of sepulture of many of the Scottish chieftains who fell at Flodden Field, within six miles of the church. The parish is about four miles in average length and three in breadth, and comprises 8400 acres, of which 2000 are meadow and hill-pasture, 100 wood and plantations, 200 undivided common, and the remainder arable. The surface is divided into numerous small and beautiful valleys by the many hills which intersect it, and of which the highest have an elevation of nearly 800 feet above the level of the sea. Of these valleys the principal is the vale of Bowmont, through which runs the river of that name; it is about two miles long, and varies from a quarter to half a mile in breadth. This river has its source in the Cocklaw hill, and flows with a rapid course into one of the streams tributary to the Tweed: it is subject to frequent inundations, which occasion much injury to the surrounding lands; and abounds with excellent trout. There is a fine sheet of water called Yetholm Loch, of irregular form, and about a mile and a half in circumference; it contains a great number of pike and perch, and is the resort of various kinds of aquatic birds. The inhabitants of Kirk-Yet-holm have the privilege of grazing their cattle, and cutting turf, upon the common; and about 500 acres adjacent to the two villages are occupied by the inhabitants at rack-rent, in portions varying from two to fifty acres each.The soil is in general fertile, and in the valleys a rich loam; the lower hills are in cultivation, producing good crops, and the higher afford excellent pasture to numbers of sheep and cattle. The system of agriculture is much improved, and the four and five shift courses now prevail; the chief crops are, wheat, barley, and oats, of which a considerable portion is sent to distant markets: good crops of turnips are also raised in the parish. Great attention is paid to the rearing of live-stock, upon which the farmers depend as much as upon agriculture; the cattle are almost exclusively of the short-horned breed, and the sheep, of which about 5000 are fed, are the Cheviot and the Leicestershire, with an occasional cross between them. Lime, procured within a distance of ten miles, is much used, as is the ordinary manure; and in numerous instances, guano brought from Berwick has been introduced with advantage. The farms vary greatly in extent; the farmbuildings are commodious, and the lands are fenced in some parts with hedges of thorn, and in others with loose walls of stone. The hills are chiefly of the transition rock, consisting of felspar, and pitchstone-porphyry, of which the former is most prevalent, and thickly interspersed with nodules of jasper and agate: occasionally, crystals of calcareous spar are found, and also red sandstone, but not of very good quality. The vale of Cherry-Trees abounds with moss varying from eight to fourteen feet in depth, in which trunks of various trees, especially of oaks of extreme hardness, have been found; but throughout the vale the moss has been drained, and the land brought into cultivation. CherryTrees, the seat of Adam B. Boyd, Esq., who is the only resident heritor, is a very handsome modern building, pleasantly situated in the vale, and surrounded with thriving plantations. The villages of Town-Yetholm and Kirk-Yetholm are both situated in the vale of Bowmont, and are governed by baron-bailies appointed respectively by the Marquess of Tweeddale and Mr. Wauchope: these villages communicate by a handsome bridge over the river Bowmont, recently erected. In Town-Yetholm was formerly a market, which has long been discontinued. The roads are kept in good order; a turnpike-road extends for about four miles within the parish, and affords facility of intercourse with Kelso and other towns. Fairs are held at Kirk-Yetholm on the 27th of June, for Cheviot sheep one year old, and cattle, and on the 24th of October, for ewes and cattle; at Town-Yetholm on the 5th of July, for lambs and wool, and the 1st of November, for cattle. This parish has been for a long period the resort of numerous hordes of gypsies, of whom the largest body in Scotland seem from time immemorial to have established their head-quarters here. The number of these at present is about 100, and they live chiefly by selling horn spoons of their own manufacture, and coarse earthenware; their general habits are orderly and peaceable. The rateable annual value of the parish, according to returns made under the Income tax, is £6789.Yetholm is in the presbytery of Kelso, synod of Merse and Teviotdale, and patronage of Andrew Wauchope, Esq.: the minister's stipend is £200. 4. 2., with a manse, and the glebe is valued at £25 per annum. The old church, situated in the village of Kirk-Yetholm, was a very indifferent building, and although enlarged to more than twice its original size, in 1609, was insufficient for the accommodation of the parishioners. A new church was therefore erected in 1837, well adapted for a congregation of 750 persons. There are also places of worship for a congregation of Old-Light Burghers, and one of the United Associate Synod. The parochial school affords a liberal education to about 100 scholars; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with £30 fees, and a house and garden: the school-house is one of the best in the country. The parochial library contains about 500 volumes; there are a library connected with one of the dissenting places of worship, and two Sunday school libraries. On the summits of Castlelaw and Camp hill, the former on the farm of Vencheon, and the latter on that of Halterburn, are remains of fortifications, each inclosing a circular area nearly 300 yards in diameter, and defended by double fosses and ramparts. Upon the summit of Yetholm Law are the remains of a Roman camp of quadrilateral form, and of considerable dimensions. The supposition of its Roman origin has been much strengthened by the discovery of an urn of brass containing 500 Roman coins; it was lately turned up by the plough on the farm of Mindrum, near the borders of the parish. On what was formerly an island in the lake of Yetholm, were recently slight remains of the baronial residence of the Kers, of Loch Tower, a branch of the Roxburghe family. The churchyard of the parish contains the remains of many of the border chieftains; and at a depth of nearly six feet from the surface were recently discovered a stone coffin with a skeleton of gigantic stature, and a kistvaen consisting of four upright stones joined together, and covered on the top with a flat stone, under which was a human skull. Dr. Scott, an eminent chymist, and physician to King Charles II., resided at Thirlestane, in this parish, in an ancient mansion recently taken down.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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