DUNSE, a market-town, burgh of barony, and parish, in the county of Berwick, 15 miles (W.) from Berwick, and 42 (S. E.) from Edinburgh; containing, with the late quoad sacra district of Boston, 3162 inhabitants. This place derived its name from the situation of the ancient town on the north-western acclivity of the hill on the south side of which, after the destruction of the old town, burnt by the English, the present was erected, near the base of the eminence, towards the close of the sixteenth century. It is neatly built; the houses are chiefly modern, and of good, and in some instances of handsome, appearance; the streets are spacious, well paved, and lighted, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water by a committee of the feuars, at the expense of the common property of the town. There are neither any manufactures, nor much business carried on here, except such handicraft trades as are requisite for the supply of the inhabitants and the immediate neighbourhood; but the town is thriving, and is one of the most important in the county. A public library, in which is a very fair collection, is maintained by subscription; and there are also a reading-room furnished with newspapers and periodical publications, and two circulating libraries that are liberally supported. The post has a good delivery: the market is on Wednesday, and fairs are held in June, August, and November, for cattle and horses, and are well attended; there are also markets in March, May, July, and September, for sheep, of which a great number are sold. Facility of communication with the county-town, and with Edinburgh and other places, is afforded by excellent roads, of which the turnpike-road to Edinburgh passes near Dunse.
   A charter was granted in 1489, by James IV., constituting the town a burgh of barony, with power to choose magistrates, and to exercise all the privileges usually enjoyed by burghs of barony; and these rights appear to have been in force for nearly two centuries, during which the bailies and burgesses had municipal jurisdiction within the limits of the burgh. In 1670, a charter was granted by Charles II. to Sir James Cockburn, who had purchased the lands of Dunse from the Homes, of Ayton, confirming all the previous immunities, which were afterwards vested in the family of the Hays, of Drummelzier, whose descendant, William Hay, Esq., of Dunse Castle, is the present superior of the barony. Under him the government of the burgh is administered by a baron-bailie, who exercises the ordinary jurisdiction in cases of petty offences against the peace, and in pleas of debt and trespass to a limited amount. The town-hall, erected in 1816, at an expense of £2688, of which £1488 were raised by the sale of the common belonging to the burgh, and the remainder by subscription, is a handsome edifice in the ancient style of English architecture, containing in the upper part a spacious hall or court-room for the transaction of business relating to the burgh, and for the holding of public meetings, under which are some shops. The police is under the direction of certain commissioners, who represent the ancient burgesses, and unite with the baronbailie in the general management of the town. There are within the burgh 148 houses of the annual value of £10 and upwards, and 84 of more than £5 and under the sum of £10.
   The parish is about six miles in length, from south-east to north-west, and three miles and a half in average breadth, and of very irregular form; it is bounded on the north and east for a considerable space by the river Whiteadder, and comprises 12,000 acres, of which nearly 6000 are arable, 1000 woods and plantations, and the remainder hill-pasture. The surface is exceedingly diversified: in the north it forms part of the Lammermoor range of hills, including Cockburn Law, which is about 900 feet above the level of the sea, and a conspicuous landmark for vessels navigating the coast; and in the eastern and southern portions, it rises in gentle undulations to a considerable height, attaining at Dunse Law an elevation of 630 feet above the sea. Besides the Whiteadder, there is a small rivulet called Langton burn, which has its source in the parish of that name, and after forming a part of its southern boundary, falls into the Blackadder near Wedderburn. There are few springs of water fit for domestic use in the town, and the chief supply was formerly obtained from a spring on Dunse Law; but, by the appropriation to that purpose of a considerable sum of money bequeathed by Alexander Christie, Esq., of Grueldykes, an abundant supply of excellent soft water has, with the permission of Mr. Hay, been conveyed in pipes from a spring near the site of the old town. There is a lake of artificial construction, formed in the grounds of Dunse Castle for the embellishment of the demesne. Salmon and grilse are found in abundance in the Whiteadder, during the months of September and October; and in May, trout of a delicate flavour are plentiful in the Langton burn. The scenery is richly diversified, displaying in some parts a considerable boldness of feature, and in others much picturesque beauty; and from the higher grounds are extensive and finely-varied prospects.
   The soil in the northern district of the parish is of a dry gravelly quality, in the south a rich deep loam, and in those parts in the more immediate vicinity of the town a dark sandy loam. The crops are, grain of all kinds, potatoes, and turnips; the system of agriculture is in a very advanced state, and the five-shift course generally practised; the lands are well drained and inclosed, and all the improvements in husbandry and in agricultural implements have been adopted. A due degree of attention is paid to live stock; the sheep are of the Leicester and Cheviot breeds, and the cattle of the short-horned or Teeswater, with the exception of some Kyloes or Highland oxen fattened for home consumption, the others being chiefly reared for the English markets. The rateable annual value of the parish is £15,922. The woods and plantations are under good management, and in a very thriving condition. The chief substrata are greywacke and greywacke-slate, with alternations of greenstone and red sandstone both of the old and new formation; granite and porphyry are found in some of the hills. The sandstone is quarried in the southern part of the parish, and abounds with vegetable impressions. Dunse Castle is an elegant and spacious mansion in the ancient English style, mostly of modern erection, and including the old tower built by Randolph, Earl of Moray, and incorporated with the present structure; it is beautifully situated in a demesne tastefully laid out and embellished with the lake already referred to, abounding with tench and perch. Wedderburn Castle is a stately mansion in the Grecian style, finely seated in richly-planted grounds; and Manderston is also a handsome house, the grounds of which are embellished with a sheet of water and flourishing plantations.
   The parish is in the presbytery of Dunse and synod of Merse and Teviotdale, and patronage of William Hay, Esq.; the minister's stipend is £291. 13., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £25 per annum. The church, erected in 1790 to replace the ancient building, of Norman character, which had fallen into decay, is a plain neat edifice adapted for a congregation of 837 persons. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, members of the United Associate Synod, and those of the Relief Synod. The parochial school affords education to about 120 children; the master has a salary of £34, with £70 fees, and a house and garden. The poor have the proceeds of a legacy of £100 by General Dickson, and of one of £1000 by Mr. Christie; and an annuity of £10 is paid to five poor females, cousins of the late Dr. Abraham Robertson, Savilian professor of astronomy in the university of Oxford. There are also two friendly societies and a savings' bank, which have both contributed to diminish the number of applications for parochial relief. The foundations are still remaining of Edinshall Castle, situated on the slope of Cockburn Law, and one of the earliest of the fortresses erected here by the Saxons on their invasion of Britain. It was of circular form, about eighty-six feet in diameter, and the walls were nearly sixteen feet in thickness, and perforated in the interior with numerous cells, extending round the whole, and apparently vaulted; but the materials have been almost entirely removed for various purposes, and little more than the foundations are remaining. On the east and south of the circular tower, are the foundations of several quadrangular buildings; and the whole was defended by ramparts of stone and earth, between which were trenches of considerable depth. From the situation of the building it appears to have been rather intended for a residence than a military post. On the summit of Dunse Law are vestiges of the intrenched camp occupied by General Leslie and 20,000 of the Covenanters in the year 1639. Abraham Robertson, LL.D., was born here in 1751; and Boston, author of the Fourfold State, a well-known religious work, the Rev. Thomas Mc Crie, D. D., author of the Life of John Knox and other works, and the Rev. James Gray, who, officiating in his ministerial capacity at Cutch, in the East Indies, and superintending the education of the prince of that country, died there in 1830, were also natives of the place. It is said that the celebrated John Duns Scotus was likewise born at Dunse.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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