CASTLETON, a parish, situated in the district of Melrose, county of Roxburgh; containing 2135 inhabitants, of whom 1030 are in the village of New Castleton, 9 miles (E. by N.) from Langholm. This place derived its name from an ancient castle here, which stood on the east bank of the Liddel, upon a perpendicular precipice upwards of 100 feet in height, and was defended on the west and south by two strong ramparts, and a deep fosse, which are still entire. The parish was anciently denominated Liddesdale, from the river, which runs through it from the north-east to the south; camps, forts, cairns, and castles remain in various places, and on account of its situation directly along the English border, it was formerly the scene of violent contentions. Hermitage Castle, a building 100 feet square, protected by a strong rampart and ditch, and standing upon the bank of a river of the same name, is said to have been built by Sir Ranulph de Soules, warden of the Border in the reign of David I. One of his descendants, Lord Soules, and also governor of the castle, according to the current tradition, was burnt near the site of a Druidical temple, on a hill here, called Nine-Stone Ridge; and in the castle, Sir Alexander Ramsay, of Dalhousie, was starved to death in 1342, by Sir William Douglas, lord of Liddesdale. The castle was visited in 1561, by Mary, Queen of Scots, who travelled from, and returned to, Jedburgh in the same day, over mountains, and through marshes almost impassable. Near it stood the chapel of Hermitage, now a ruin, in the middle of a burying-ground, which is still in use, and in the wall of which is fixed the ancient font. The lands of Liddesdale, in 1540, were annexed to the crown, by act of parliament; and in 1648, were granted to Francis, Earl of Buccleuch, whose descendant, in 1747, upon the abolition of heritable jurisdictions, was allowed £600 as a compensation for the regality.
   The Parish is the largest and most southerly in the county, and about eighteen miles long, and twelve broad, containing 65,200 acres; it is bounded on the north-east by Northumberland, and on the south-east by Cumberland. The southern extremity is nearly of triangular form. The surface is diversified to a high degree; the lower part of the parish is hilly, and in the upper part the country is entirely mountainous, rising abruptly, in many instances, to a great elevation, and affording excellent pasture for numerous flocks of sheep. The principal mountains are, Greatmoor, Millenwood Fell, Tudhope, Windhead, and Tinnis Hill, which last is seen as a landmark at a great distance from the ocean; some of these rise as much as 2000 feet above the level of the sea, and give a wild and romantic appearance to this division of the parish. The part inhabited consists of two valleys, one of which, bordering on the river Hermitage, is about ten miles long, from the source of that stream until it loses itself in the Liddel; the banks of the water are clothed with natural wood, which, with the general character of the scenery, enlivened with the beautiful current, exhibits a rural picture of the most attractive kind. The other valley is that lying along the sides of the Liddel, which river, as well as the Tyne, rises near the head of the parish, on the north-east. The Tyne takes its course to the east, slowly winding through Northumberland; and the Liddel runs directly west, for a few miles, after which it turns to the south. The country through which the latter passes, is wild, bleak, and mountainous, and, for ten miles, the banks are entirely naked; where it is joined by the Hermitage, however, they are covered with trees, and flourishing plantations there constitute prominent features in the improving and beautiful landscape. In addition to these streams, are the Tinnis, Blackburn, Tweeden, and Kershope, which last divides the two kingdoms, with several others, all famed for their supply of trout; there are also numerous mineral springs, and several beautiful cascades and waterfalls on the various streams.
   The soil varies considerably, that in the neighbourhood of the rivers being soft and rich, while the higher grounds exhibit a poorer mould; in some parts, it is of a mossy character. Most of the arable land lies on the banks of the rivers; wheat, of average quality, has been produced, but the ordinary crops are, barley, oats, potatoes, and turnips. The mossy ground is esteemed for the use of black-cattle and sheep; the cattle are chiefly the Galloway, Dutch, and Highland, many of which are brought by the farmers from the Falkirk and Doune markets, and supported during the winter upon coarse hay and other fodder, and after being fattened on the pastures, are sold towards the end of summer. The rateable annual value of the parish is £12,126. Several plantations have been made of Scotch fir, spruce, larch, oak, ash, and beech, which are, for the most part, in a flourishing condition; and the natural wood consists of some of the same species, in addition to a considerable quantity of alder. There is a large supply of limestone of various qualities, which is wrought to a great extent on the estates of Lariston and Thorlieshope; coal is obtained on the estate of Liddelbank; and quarries of freestone are in every direction, except at the head of Hermitage, where there is nothing but blue whinstone. The village, the building of which was commenced in 1793, by the Duke of Buccleuch, consists principally of two streets, named the Liddel and the Hermitage; several other streets cross these, at right angles, and in the centre is a market-place, called Douglas-square, round which the buildings consist of two stories. There are also smaller squares, at each extremity of the main street. Fairs are held for the sale of sheep twice a year, and three for hiring servants, in April, May, and November, respectively; and the Eskdale and Liddesdale Farmers' Association meet once in every three years at Castleton. The ecclesiastical affairs are directed by the presbytery of Langholm and synod of Dumfries, and the patronage is exercised by the Duke of Buccleuch; the minister's stipend is £250, with a good manse, and a glebe of twenty-five acres. The church, built in 1808, accommodates between 600 and 700 persons, and is in a convenient situation, at the junction of the Liddel and Hermitage. The Associate Synod have a place of worship. There is one principal parochial school, to which there are three auxiliaries; the salaries of the masters amount to £51, of which the head master receives £30, leaving the remaining sum to be equally divided among the other teachers; the fees of the four schools are about £70. A good subscription library has also been established, in the village. Dr. Armstrong, author of the Art of Preserving Health, was a native of Castleton.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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