- GALSTON, a parish, in the district of Kyle, county of Ayr, 5 miles (E. by S.) from Kilmarnock; containing, with the village of Greenholme, 4334 inhabitants. This parish, which is fancifully supposed to have derived its name from the temporary settlement of a number of Gauls, is thirteen miles in length, and from four to five miles broad; and comprises 14,577 acres, of which more than one-half arc arable, 1000 woodland and plantations, and the remainder pasture and waste. It is bounded on the north by the river Irvine; on the east by the river Avon, dividing it from the parish of Avondale, in Lanarkshire; and on the west by the river Cessnock, which separates it from the parishes of Riccarton and Craigie. The surface is diversified with hills, of which the chief are Distincthorn and Molmont hill, the former having an elevation of 1100, and the latter of 1000, feet above the level of the sea; the scenery is pleasingly varied, and in some parts enriched with wood and flourishing plantations. There were formerly several lakes in the parish; but in the agricultural improvements that have taken place, they have been all drained and brought into cultivation, with the exception of Loch Gait, which, however, is little more than an inconsiderable tract of marsh. The soil is various; in the higher lands, a loam intermixed with sand, or with a kind of moss; and along the banks of the Irvine, a rich loam: in other parts, a variety of clay is most prevalent. The crops are, grain of different kinds, potatoes, and turnips; the system of agriculture is advanced, and much previously unproductive land has been rendered fertile by the practice of furrow-draining, which, by the liberal encouragement afforded by the proprietors, has been carried on to a very great extent. The dairy-farms are extensive and well managed, and about 210 tons of cheese are annually produced; the cows are usually of the Ayrshire breed, and considerable numbers of black-cattle are reared. The sheep are of the black-faced kind, and much attention is paid to the improvement of live stock generally. The farm-buildings are substantial and commodious, and those of more recent erection are of superior order; the lands are enclosed, and the fences well kept up. The rateable annual value of the parish is £10,448.The woods are of oak, elm, ash, and other forest-trees; and the plantations, larch and fir, intermixed with oak, ash, and elm. The substrata are red sandstone, alternated with whinstone, coal, limestone, and ironstone: the general dip of the strata throughout is north-west. In the channel of a small burn running into the Irvine, are some beautiful pebbles peculiar to this place, called Galston pebbles; and on Molmont hill are found numerous nodules of agate and chalcedony. Coal, of which there are three seams of six feet in thickness, and one of three feet, and limestone, are both worked, but not to any great extent beyond what is requisite for the neighbourhood; and paving stone and roofing slate are quarried. There is a large work for the manufacture of draining tiles, on the estate of the Duke of Portland, as well as one situated on the lands of Mr. Brown, for the supply of the different farms; the clay is found in abundance, and of good quality. Lanfine is a handsome mansion surrounded with extensive grounds and thriving plantations; Holms, in the ancient English style, is a modern mansion of elegant design; and Cessnock, an ancient house belonging to the Duke of Portland, is an interesting structure. The village is pleasantly situated, and many of the inhabitants are engaged in weaving for the manufacturers of Glasgow and Paisley, and a few have introduced the weaving of fancy silks. There are four corn-mills, a mill for flax, a saw-mill, and a paper-mill. Four fairs are held annually in the village, of which those of any importance are on the third Thursday in April and the first in December. A penny post has been established here, which has a daily delivery; and facility of communication is afforded with Kilmarnock and the neighbouring towns by roads kept in excellent repair, of which the turnpike-road from Glasgow to London passes within the limits of the parish.Galston is in the presbytery of Ayr and synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and patronage of the Duke of Portland; the minister's stipend is £178. 16., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £15 per annum. The church, situated in the centre of the village, is a neat and substantial edifice with a handsome spire, erected in 1808, and is adapted for a congregation of 1028 persons. There is a place of worship for members of the United Secession; likewise a Free Church place of worship, just built. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £34, with £55 fees, and a house and garden. There are two other schools, the masters of which receive an annual payment of £5. 12. from the heritors. The late Mr. Charles Blair, of Longhouse, bequeathed £4000 for the foundation and endowment of a free school in the parish, when the bequest, by the accumulation of interest, should produce £200 per annum: this has been very lately accomplished, and the establishment is now in operation. John Brown, Esq., of Waterhaughs, also bequeathed £1000, the interest of which is appropriated to the clothing and education of children of the poor. There are the remains of a very extensive Roman camp, the ramparts of which, though in some places greatly obliterated by the plough, still mark out an area of nearly 300 yards in length, and 120 yards in breadth. On this spot was found, in 1831, a silver coin with the legend Cœsar Augustus Divi F. Pater Patriæ; and to the east, in the parish of Avondale, several others were discovered, with the inscription Divus Antoninus. The vicinity of the camp was the scene of an encounter between William Wallace, who, with fifty of his men, lay concealed here, and Fenwick, an English officer, with a force of 200, whom he signally defeated. Other coins, bearing the inscriptions Alexander, David, and Edward, have also been found. On the bank of the Avon, and nearly surrounded by the river, are the remains of some earth-works called Main Castle, most probably connected with the Roman camp.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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