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Ancrum, Roxburghshire

Historical Description

ANCRUM, a parish, in the district of Jedburgh, county of Roxburgh, 4 miles (N. W. by N.) from Jedburgh: containing 1407 inhabitants, of whom 499 are in the village. The name of this place, anciently Alnecrumb, is derived from the situation of its village on a bend of the river Alne, now the Ale. There were formerly two villages distinguished by the appellations of Over and Nether Ancrum, of the former of which nothing now remains. The principal event of historical importance is the battle of Ancrum Moor, which originated in an attempt made in 1545, by Sir Ralph Evers and Sir Bryan Layton, to possess themselves of the lands of the Merse and Teviotdale, which had been conferred upon them by a grant of Henry VIII., King of England. The Earl of Angus, who had considerable property in that district, determined to resist the attempt, and a battle between his forces and those of the English took place on a moor about a mile and a half north of the village, in which the latter were defeated with great loss. In this conflict, both the villages of Ancrum were burnt to the ground; the village of Nether Ancrum was soon afterwards rebuilt, but of the other nothing remains but the ruins of one or two dilapidated houses.

The PARISH comprises about 8400 acres, of which one-half is arable, 820 acres in woods and plantations, and the remainder meadow and pasture. Its surface is pleasingly undulated, rising in some parts into considerable eminences, and presenting a continued variety of level plains and sloping heights. The Teviot forms the southern boundary of the parish, and the river Ale traverses it from east to west; the banks of the latter are highly picturesque in several parts of its course, presenting in some points precipitous masses of bare rugged rock, and in others overhung by rocks richly wooded. Both the rivers abound with excellent trout, and are much frequented by anglers. The soil is greatly varied: on the banks of the Teviot it is luxuriantly rich, and of great depth; in other parts of less fertility, and in some almost sterile. The chief crops are oats, wheat, barley, potatoes, turnips, peas, and beans. The system of agriculture is in an improved state; draining has been carried on to a considerable extent, and much of the inferior land has been rendered productive. Much attention is paid to the rearing of live stock, for which the pastures are well adapted; the sheep are mostly of the Leicestershire breed, and a cross between that and the Cheviot, and the cattle are all of the short-horned kind. The woods contain many stately trees, and the plantations are extensive and well managed. The principal substrata are red and white freestone, which are both of good quality, and extensively wrought for the supply of the surrounding district. The annual value of real property in the parish is £8893. Ancrum House, the seat of Sir William Scott, Bart., is a spacious and venerable mansion, in an extensive and richlywooded park stocked with deer. Chesters is a handsome modern mansion, romantically situated at the mouth of a deep and thickly-wooded dell, on the bank of the Teviot; and Kirklands, in the later style of English architecture, is beautifully situated on a wooded height on the bank of the Ale, forming a strikingly picturesque object in the landscape. The village is on the south bank of the Teviot. Facility of communication is maintained with Jedburgh and other market-towns in the vicinity, by good roads; the turnpike-road from Edinburgh to Newcastle passes along the eastern boundary of the parish for several miles, and the Hawick railway intersects the western part of the parish.

Ecclesiastically, Ancrum is in the presbytery of Jedburgh and synod of Merse and Teviotdale: the stipend of the incumbent is about £224, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £30 per annum; patron, Sir William Scott. The church, which anciently belonged to the see of Glasgow, having been annexed to it on the dissolution of the abbey of Lindisfarn, was rebuilt in 1762, and is a neat and substantial edifice, adapted for about 520 persons. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with £28. 15. fees, and a good house and garden. Till very lately, there were considerable remains of what were called the Maltan Walls, which inclosed an area of about an acre and a half. The spot is supposed to have been the site of a commandery of the Knights of Malta, or St. John of Jerusalem, said to have been established here in the reign of David I.; and in the adjacent field, numerous human bones, and frequently entire skeletons, have been discovered by the plough. Within the area of the walls were various vaults and subterraneous passages, apparently the foundations of the ancient building; but even those portions of the outer wall which alone were left standing have disappeared, and little but the site is now left. On the hill behind Ancrum House are the remains of a circular fort, with a triple intrenchment. In the parish are numerous caves, formed as places of retreat in times of danger, one of which, on the glebe, was the favourite resort of the poet Thomson, and still bears his name. A monument has been raised over the tomb of Lilliard, a Scotch female who fell in the battle of Ancrum Moor, covered with wounds, while fighting with desperate valour, and who was buried on the spot where she fell. The place confers the title of Earl on the Marquess of Lothian.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis


Online maps of Ancrum are available from a number of sites:

CountyScottish Borders
Postal districtTD8
Post TownJedburgh