ASHKIRK, a parish, partly in the county of Selkirk, but chiefly in the district of Hawick; county of Roxburgh, 6 miles (S.) from Selkirk; containing 563 inhabitants. This place, of which the name is said to have been derived from the great number of ash-trees with which the neighbourhood abounded, and of which a considerable number is still remaining, was formerly part of the see of Glasgow, and the occasional residence of the bishops, who had a palace here, of which some vestiges might lately be traced in a field retaining the name of Palace Walls. The parish is about seven miles in length, and three miles and a half in breadth, and comprises about 3000 acres under cultivation, 400 in woods and plantations, and a considerable portion of waste. The surface is generally hilly, with portions of level land in the intervals between the hills and the narrow valley of the Ale. The Ale has its source in the lakes of Alemoor and Shaws, and, flowing through the parish, in a direction from west to east, divides it into two nearly equal portions; it abounds with trout of excellent quality, and a few sea-trout, and small salmon, are occasionally taken in it, after floods. There were formerly numerous lakes in the parish, but, from the practice of draining the lands, many of them have disappeared. The principal now remaining are, Essenside loch, covering about twenty acres of ground; and the Sheilswood loch, and Headshaw loch, both of which are of smaller dimensions. They all abound with perch, pike, and trout; and afford good sport to the angler. Synton Moss, once a very extensive lake, has been completely drained, for the sake of obtaining the marl and peat with which it abounded, and which have been successfully applied to the improvement of the lands. In this moss, many interesting organic remains are occasionally dug up.
   The soil is generally light; in some places clay, mixed with gravel, and in others a rich loam; the chief crops are, oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, and turnips. The system of agriculture is improved, and the farmhouses are in general substantial and comfortable; some few dairy-farms are managed with great attention, and the butter produced here is of excellent quality. Considerable attention is paid to the rearing of live stock, upon which the main dependence is placed; the sheep are almost exclusively of the Cheviot breed, with occasionally a mixture of the Cheviot and Leicestershire; and the cattle are of the short-horned breed, which are found to be the best adapted to the lands. A few Highland cattle are pastured here during the winter. There appears to have been formerly a great abundance of natural wood, but, at present, very little ancient timber remains: the plantations are, larch, and spruce and Scotch firs, intermixed with oak, ash, elm, and other forest trees; they are all of modern formation, and are in a thriving state. The rateable annual value of the Roxburgh portion of the parish is £3483, and of the Selkirk portion, £1510. The substratum is chiefly greywacke, of which the hills are mainly composed, and clay-slate. The parish is in the presbytery of Selkirk and synod of Merse and Teviotdale; the minister's stipend is £205. 12. 9., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £28 per annum; patron, the Earl of Minto. The church, erected in 1791, is a plain substantial edifice, and is adapted for about 200 persons. A place of worship has been erected in connexion with the Free Church. The parochial school is attended by about 80 children; the master's salary is £34, with £16 fees, and a house and garden. There are remains of two Danish encampments on the lands of Castleside, one of which is in good preservation, but the other is almost obliterated by the plough. On the lands of Salineside was formerly a very strong tower, of which there are scarcely more than some slight vestiges; and in various parts of the parish, are remains of ancient encampments.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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