- DURISDEER, a parish, in the county of Dumfries; containing, with part of the village of Carronbridge, 1445 inhabitants, of whom 107 are in the village of Durisdeer, 6 miles (N. by E.) from Thornhill. This district, which in ancient times was covered with wood, is supposed to derive its name from duris, signifying a door, and deer, a forest. Several great families have been connected with it, of which the chief are those of Douglas, Stuart, the Menzies of Enock, and the Hunters of Balagan; and the place was formerly celebrated for its castle, which, with the fortresses of Dumfries, Dalswinton, and Morton, was, by an agreement between the English and Scots, demolished, as being troublesome to the former, at the restoration of King David Bruce, who, after being captured at the battle of Durham, had been kept eleven years prisoner in England. The parish is eight miles long and six broad, and contains nearly 20,000 acres; it is almost surrounded by hills, covered with grass, heath, or bent, and the highest of which are the Lowthers, on its northeastern side, which rise 3130 above the level of the sea: the climate is bleak, but dry and healthy. The river Nith runs through the lands, in a direction from north-west to south-east, and besides this important stream, there are five considerable burns, viz., the Enterkin, the Carron, the Hapland, the Maarburn, and the burn at Crarie-Knoll.The soil in general is loamy, deep, and fertile, in many places inclining to a reddish colour; in some parts it is gravelly and sandy, and occasionally wet and heavy. About 7896 acres are cultivated; 9554 are hillpasture, and 2000 are wood, including 500 acres that are of natural growth: the plantations chiefly consist of hard-woods, in the thinning of which every tree is in course of time removed except the oak. The usual kinds of grain and various green crops are raised of good quality; the cattle are of the Galloway breed, and the sheep the black-faced; the improved system of husbandry is followed, and considerable advances have been made in fencing, the construction of farm-buildings, and the formation of roads. The rateable annual value of the parish is £7901. The rocks in the hills are whinstone or greywacke, and on the low grounds they are chiefly sandstone of a red colour, and very soft, though in some places white, and of a much firmer texture: quarries have been opened for stones adapted for farm-buildings and dykes. Drumlanrig Castle, in the parish, a seat of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, whose property extends over a very large district in this part of the country, is described under its own head. The village is situated near the eastern boundary of the parish, on the road from Dumfries to Edinburgh. The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Penpont and synod of Dumfries; patron, the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry. There is a manse, with a glebe valued at £25 per annum, and the stipend of the minister is £221. The church, erected in 1720, contains a handsome marble monument, representing James, second duke of Queensberry, weeping over the form of his deceased duchess: a vault attached to the church is the burial-place of the family. There are two parochial schools, in which the classics, with the usual branches of education, are taught; the salaries of the masters are respectively £30 and £24, with about £10 fees each, and the accommodation of a house. A third school is carried on in the parish, situated at Enterkinford, and the master receives £10 per annum from the Duke of Buccleuch. About a mile above the church are the vestiges of a Roman camp which appears to have been a summer station connected with the great one at Tibbers, to guard the pass from Lanarkshire.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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