CRANSHAWS, a parish, in the county of Berwick, 9 miles (N. W.) from Dunse; containing 120 inhabitants. The derivation of the name of this place is doubtful, some supposing it to have been applied in consequence of the number of cranes or herons by which the district was originally visited, while others trace it to the Cranberry bush, which is a native of the hills and mosses. The barony was possessed in the fourteenth century by the family of Douglas, and in 1401, Archibald, the fourth earl of Douglas, assigned the estates to Sir John Swinton, of Swinton, whom he calls in the deed dilectus consanguineus noster. The family of Swinton held the property for a considerable period; and in June, 1640, an act was passed by the parliament, confirming to them the baronies of Swinton and Cranshaws, with the teinds, and the patronage of the church. In the times of the border warefare, the district was involved in the general commotions, and Cranshaws Castle appears to have been a place of refuge from the sudden incursions of the English, as well as the old castle of Scarlaw, which was used by the inhabitants of another division of the parish. The parish, which is pastoral, is divided into two distinct portions by the intervention of the parish of Longformacus. The part in which the church stands is a pentagon in form, containing about six square miles, and is bounded by the Whiteadder river on the north and east. The other part of the parish is about five miles long, and two in mean breadth, and is bounded on the north, the east, and partly on the south, by Longformacus. The surface consists chiefly of lofty hills, covered to a great extent with heath, and suited to pasture, although most of the farms have each a portion of arable land. The highest ground is Manslaughter-Law, so called, as tradition reports, from a bloody engagement which took place near it, in 1402, between the Earl of Dunbar and Hepburn of Hailes. There are numerous springs in the parish, of which one is chalybeate, and the river Dye forms the northern boundary of the southern division, and shortly after falls into the Whiteadder.
   About 350 acres only are under tillage, the produce consisting of oats, barley, peas, turnips, potatoes, and sown grasses; the grain is sent to Haddington and Dunbar. There are about 4400 sheep kept, which are all Cheviots, and are sent to Gifford, Dunse, and Edinburgh; the cattle are a mixture of several kinds, but all of the black breed. The rateable annual value of the parish is £1132. The principal substrata are greywacke and greywacke-slate. Boulders of granite, sienite, and porphyry are washed down from rocks of conglomerate in the parishes of Stenton and Whittingham; and in Cranshaws Hill is a fine conglomerated rock, with an intermixture of iron-ore. Near this there occurs sandstone of the secondary formation, coloured by grains of iron, and of good quality for building; and from the same hill in which this is found, large quantities of yellow-ochre issue, which are used by the people in colouring the walls of their houses. The ecclesiastical affairs are directed by the presbytery of Dunse and synod of Merse and Teviotdale. The minister's stipend is £158, of which more than three-fourths are received from the exchequer, and there is a manse, with a glebe valued at £17 per annum; patroness, Lady Aberdour. The parish church, a very plain edifice, was built in 1739, and will contain 120 persons. A parochial school is supported, in which all the usual branches of education are taught; the master's salary is £34, with about £10 fees, and the allowance of house and garden. There is also a parochial library, consisting of 200 volumes. The chief relic of antiquity is the Castle of Cranshaws, which is an oblong of forty feet by twenty-four, with walls forty-five feet high, and a modern battlement. Upon a hill on the west side of the parish are two immense heaps of stones, said to have been collected to commemorate the death of twin-brothers, of the name of Edgely, who fell while commanding different portions of an army which had mutinied: these stones are called the Twin-law Cairns.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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