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Bedrule, Roxburghshire

Historical Description

BEDRULE, a parish, in the district of Jedburgh, county of Roxburgh, 3 miles (S. W.) from Jedburgh; containing, with the villages of Bedrule, Newtown, and Rewcastle, 256 inhabitants, of whom 111 are in the village of Bedrule. This place derives its name from its situation on the small but rapid and impetuous river Rule, whose waters, impeded in their progress by fragments of loosened rock, pursue their course with tumultuous noise. It lays claim to considerable antiquity, and formed part of the possessions of the Turnbull family, one of whose descendants was keeper of the privy seal in 1441, and subsequently Bishop of Glasgow: he procured a bull from Pope Nicholas V. for erecting a college for literature within the city of Glasgow, in 1452 or 1453. The parish, which is nearly in the centre of the county, is of elliptic form, and comprises about 1600 acres of arable land, an equal quantity in pasture, about forty acres of woodland and plantations, and a considerable portion of waste. The surface is diversified with hills and dales: of the former, the hill of Dunian, in the south-east, is the highest, rising in a circular form to an elevation of 1031 feet above the sea; it is flat on the summit, and forms a conspicuous mark for mariners. The scenery is generally picturesque, and in some parts enriched with stately wood. The chief rivers are, the Rule, which winds between wooded banks displaying much beauty; and the Teviot, which skirts the parish for a considerable distance, and receives the waters of the Rule at no great distance from the village.

The soil is extremely various, though generally fertile: near the rivers it is a rich sandy loam, resting on a bed of gravel, and in some parts intermixed with clay; in other places, of a thinner and less productive quality, on a subsoil of retentive clay. The principal crops are oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, and turnips; the system of agriculture is improved, and lime and bone-dust are unsparingly used for the benefit of the land. Great attention is paid to the rearing of live stock, for which the pastures are well adapted: the sheep are of the Cheviot breed, with a few scores of the Leicestershire, and a few Merinos; the cattle, of which only a moderate number are fed for the butcher, are all of the short-horned breed. The annual value of real property in the parish is £2747. The woods consist chiefly of birch, alder, common and mountain ash, hazel, cherry, and oak; and the plantations, of firs of all kinds, which thrive well. In general the substrata are greywacke, of which the hills mainly consist, and sandstone of a reddish hue; the sandstone is of excellent quality, and is extensively quarried for building and for ornamental uses. There are some indications of coal, but no adequate attempts have been made to obtain it: limestone is also found, at Bedrule hill, and a quarry was formerly open there, but the working of it has been discontinued. Knowsouth House, in the parish, is a very elegant mansion in the Elizabethan style of architecture, situated in a highly picturesque and richly-wooded demesne, laid out with great taste.

For ecclesiastical purposes the parish is in the presbytery of Jedburgh, synod of Merse and Teviotdale: the minister's stipend is £150, with a manse and glebe; patrons, the Hume family. The church, erected about 1805, is a substantial edifice, situated on the summit of a steep bank, and adapted for 140 persons. The parochial school is well attended; the master's salary is £26, with from £15 to £20 fees, and a house and garden. There are some slight remains of the castle of Bedrule, the baronial seat of the Turnbulls, consisting chiefly of the foundations of the ancient buildings, on the right bank of the Rule; and on the opposite side of the river are vestiges of out-works formerly connected with that stronghold: the site commands an extensive prospect. Remains also exist of an old fort at Fulton, one of the numerous strongholds erected during the times of border warfare. On the farm of Newton, near the road from Jedburgh to Hawick, is the site of an encampment, surrounded on all sides but one by a fosse of running water; it is situated on a sloping piece of ground in Newton moor, and is about 600 feet in circumference: the work is supposed to have been an outstation connected with a Roman camp at Stirk-rigg, about a mile distant, but of which every trace has been obliterated by the plough. Not far from this station is a well called Our Lady's Well, which runs into a neighbouring pond, said to have been constructed by the monks of Jedburgh for a fish-pond.

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