- EDINBURGHSHIRE, or Mid Lothian, the metropolitan county of the kingdom of Scotland, bounded on the north by the Firth of Forth, along the shore of which it extends for about twelve miles; on the east, by Haddingtonshire and small portions of the counties of Berwick and Roxburgh; on the south, by the counties of Lanark, Peebles, and Selkirk; and on the west, by Linlithgowshire. It lies between 55° 39' and 55° 59' (N. Lat.) and 2° 36' and 3° 33' (W. Long.), and is about thirtysix miles in length, from east to west, and eighteen miles in extreme breadth, comprising an area of 360 square miles, or 230,400 acres; 41,779 houses, of which 38,927 are inhabited; and containing a population of 225,454, of whom 102,666 are males, and 122,788 females. The county originally occupied the central portion of the ancient and extensive province of Lothian, or London, and from this circumstance it obtained the appellation of Mid Lothian, by which it is still often designated. It appears to have been inhabited at a very early period by the Ottadini and Gadeni, two of the British tribes descended from the Celts, who first made themselves masters of this part of Britain, and who maintained their independence till the time of the Roman invasion, when, to secure his conquests, Agricola constructed a chain of forts extending from the Forth to the Clyde. Though frequently assailed by incursions of the Caledonians and Britons, the Romans, notwithstanding occasional reverses, retained possession of the territories they had acquired, which, under their sway, formed part of the province of Valentia. After their departure from Britain, this district very soon fell into the power of the Saxons, who, under their chieftain Ida, established themselves in the surrounding countries, which they continued to govern with absolute authority. In the reign of Malcolm II., Uchtred, Earl of Northumberland, against whom that monarch marched an army for the recovery of his rightful dominions, after a long-contested battle on the banks of the Tweed, gained the victory; but, being soon afterwards assassinated, Malcolm, in prosecution of his claims, renewed the war against the earl's successor, Eadulph, whom he compelled to cede the disputed territory for ever; and since that period it has continued to form part of the kingdom of Scotland. Subsequently to this date, the history of the county is so perfectly identified with the history of the capital, and that of Scotland at large, that any fuller detail in this place would be superfluous.The introduction of Christianity appears to have been, in some small degree, accomplished during the time of the Romans; but, the Saxons who succeeded them being strangers to that faith, it made but little progress till, by the persevering efforts of St. Cuthbert, it was more generally diffused. Prior to the cession of Lothian in the reign of Malcolm II., this district was comprised in the ancient diocese of Lindisfarn, but it was subsequently included in that of St. Andrew's, of which it continued to be part until the erection of the diocese of Edinburgh, in which it remained till the Reformation. Since that period the county has formed a portion of the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, and it now comprises the presbytery of Edinburgh, and thirty parishes, besides those in the city of Edinburgh. For civil purposes, it was first erected into a sheriffdom in the reign of David I., and is under the jurisdiction of a sheriff, by whom two sheriffs-substitute are appointed; the sessions and other courts are held at Edinburgh, the county town, and courts for the recovery of small debts at Edinburgh and Dalkeith. Edinburgh is the only royal burgh; Musselburgh, Canongate, and Portsburgh are burghs of regality, and the county also contains Dalkeith, a burgh of barony, the town and port of Leith, and the flourishing villages of Inveresk, Joppa, Portobello, Newhaven, Corstorphine, Currie, Mid Calder, West Calder, Gilmerton, Lonehead, Roslin, Penicuick, Lasswade, Ratho, Bonnyrig, Cramond, and Pathhead, with numerous pleasant hamlets. By the act of the 2nd of William IV., the county returns one member to the imperial parliament.Of the lands, about 100,000 acres are arable, 80,000 meadow and pasture, and the remainder moorland and waste. The surface is diversified with hills, of which the two principal ranges are the Pentland and the Moorfoot: the former, a continuation from the county of Peebles on the south-west, extends to within six miles of the sea and four miles of the city, occupying a district of about forty square miles, and varying considerably in elevation. Rising from a more level tract of country, they appear loftier than the Moorfoot, and they have generally a more bleak and barren aspect; the highest hills in the range within the county are, the Caerketton, which has an elevation of 1555 feet, and the Spittal, of 1360. The Moorfoot hills, in the south-east portion of the county, occupy an area of nearly fifty square miles in extent, and range from 1400 to 1850 feet in height; they are interspersed with fertile dales and tracts of arable land, and a large part of their acclivities is under cultivation, producing excellent crops. This district is watered by the Heriot and Gala. Between the Pentland range and the Firth of Forth are, the Braid and Blackford hills, Craig-Lockhart, Craigmillar, Arthur's Seat, Salisbury Crags, the ridge on which the castle and the Old Town of Edinburgh are built, and the Calton and Corstorphine hills. The principal streams, not being of sufficient importance to obtain the appellation of rivers, are generally designated waters, with the exception of the Esk. The Esk originates in the confluence of the North and South Esk, of which the former rises in the Pentland, and the latter in the Moorfoot hills, and both, after a separate course of twelve or fifteen miles, unite in the pleasure-grounds of Dalkeith, and thence, flowing for about five miles, fall into the Forth at the bay of Musselburgh. The North Esk, in its way to Dalkeith, runs in a rocky channel, through a beautifully romantic tract of country comprising Roslin, Hawthornden, Lasswade, and Melville. The Almond water, forming for a considerable distance the western boundary of the county, rises in the high grounds in Lanarkshire, and, taking a north-eastern course, passes through a level district, frequently overflowing its banks, and joins the Firth of Forth at Cramond. In its progress along the picturesque valley to which it gives name, it is crossed by many bridges, by an aqueduct of the Union canal, and a viaduct of the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway. The Leith water has its source in some springs in the parish of Currie, and, after a course of fourteen miles, in which it turns more than 100 mills, and flows under viaducts of the Edinburgh and Newhaven railways, and an aqueduct of the Union canal, falls into the Firth at the harbour of Leith. The Gala has its source at the base of the Moorfoot hills, and, after a southern course for about ten miles through the vale of Gala, enters the county of Selkirk, and ultimately falls into the Tweed near Galashiels. There are no lakes of any importance.The soil is greatly varied; the most prevalent is clayey loam, alternated with sand and gravel; and not unfrequently all the different varieties are found on one farm. The lands are generally fertile, but the richest are in the lower part of the county, towards the Forth, where there are not less than 70,000 acres of arable ground, producing the most luxuriant crops. The farms are of moderate extent, few less than 100, and few more than 300 acres; the system of agriculture is in the highest state of improvement. The chief crops are, wheat, barley, oats, beans, peas, potatoes, and turnips; vegetables and fruits of all kinds are raised in abundance for the supply of the city, and the amount paid for strawberries alone is calculated at £6000 per annum. The farm-buildings are substantial and well arranged, generally of stone; the dwelling-houses roofed with slate, and the offices with tiles; the lands are drained and inclosed. From the abundance of manure collected in the city, little of any other kind is employed in its vicinity; but in the uplands, and on the distant farms, limestone is the principal manure. The cattle are chiefly of the black breed, and the horses used for husbandry mostly of the Lanarkshire, with a few of the Clydesdale breed; the milch-cows are usually of the Ayrshire and Teviotdale breed. Considerable attention is paid to the management of the dairy-farms, of which the main produce is milk and butter for the supply of the city and other towns. The sheep, of which large numbers are pastured on the moorlands, are mostly of the Cheviot breed; swine are also reared in considerable numbers, and large quantities of poultry and geese. There are still some remains of the ancient Caledonian forest which formerly spread over the greater portion of the county, though about the commencement of the sixteenth century, the Borough Muir and other lands being leased by grant of James V. to the corporation of Edinburgh, such quantities of timber were felled, that, in order to procure purchasers, the magistrates bestowed on every citizen who bought sufficient to new-front his house, the privilege of extending it seven feet further into the street. Numerous oaks of stately growth still adorn the lands of the chief mansions; and very extensive plantations have been formed in various parts, and on all the principal hills, many of which are richly wooded to their summit. The substrata are mostly limestone, freestone, and whinstone, all of which are quarried. Coal is very abundant throughout the greater portion of the county; and towards Dalkeith, in the eastern district, is a very extensive coalfield, reaching from the coast of Musselburgh, for nearly fifteen miles, to the confines of Tweeddale. The Dalkeith basin contains as much coal as the fields of Stirling, Clackmannan, or Glasgow, and is remarkable for a comparatively small development of hydrogen, an advantage counterbalanced, however, by a great quantity of carbonic acid. Mr. Bald has calculated that this field alone would supply the consumption of Edinburgh for five hundred years, at the rate of 350,000 tons per annum; but he includes in this estimate the deeper coal, of which none has been yet wrought. Coal appears to have been first raised here for fuel by the monks of New-battle Abbey, in the latter part of the twelfth century. Many of the seams are of very fine quality, and there are at present about twenty mines in constant operation: the progress of mining, however, is much impeded by the quantity of water accumulating in the pits, which can be drawn off only by engines of extraordinary power. Lead was fomerly wrought on the south side of the Pentland hills, and was found to contain a considerable proportion of silver; copper-ore, also, was discovered on the confines of Peeblesshire, but not in sufficient quantity to remunerate the working of it. The rateable annual value of the county is £1,057,562.The principal manufacture is that of linen, for which there are several extensive bleaching and print-fields in the neighbourhood of the city, and on the banks of the Esk. A considerable business is also carried on in the manufacture of gunpowder, glass, soap, salt, candles, bricks, tiles, and pottery of various kinds, and paper; and the manufacture of silk has been recently introduced, for which some mills have been erected on the banks of the Union canal. There are large iron-works at Cramond, works for chemical preparations, tanneries, distilleries, breweries, and numerous other manufacturing establishments, in all of which, though the county is not distinguished for the extent of its produce in this respect, the greatest improvement has been made in the quality of the articles. Every facility of intercourse with the neighbouring districts is afforded by roads kept in excellent repair, by the Union canal, the Edinburgh and Glasgow and other railways, and the Firth of Forth. The maritime commerce of the county is very important, and, together with that of the East and West Lothians, Peebles, and Selkirkshire, is concentrated at the port of Leith. The shores of the Firth are low and sandy, and for a considerable breadth covered at high water; the Firth abounds with herrings and other fish, and the beach abounds with shell-fish of every kind: there are also some valuable beds of oysters. The principal remains of antiquity are of Roman origin, and chiefly in the vicinity of the capital. Numerous camps are found in various places, of which one, near Crichton Castle, is in a very perfect state; circular camps, supposed to be of Danish formation, are also prevalent, some consisting of three, and others of more, concentric intrenchments of earth and stones. In the parish of Heriot are the remains of a Druidical circle; and in Kirkliston are two upright stones, commemorating a victory obtained by Kenneth, commander of the forces under Malcolm II. over the usurper Constantine. The county also contains many cairns, barrows, and tumuli, near which stone coffins have been found; the remains of ancient castles, of which some were hunting seats of the kings; the ruins of various religious houses; and other relics of antiquity, all of which, with the gentlemen's seats, are described in the articles on their several localities.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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