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Carstairs, Lanarkshire

Historical Description

CARSTAIRS, a parish, in the Upper ward of the county of LANARK; including the village of Ravenstruther, and containing 950 inhabitants, of whom 350 are in the village of Carstairs, 4½ miles (E. by S.) from Lanark. The name is most probably derived from the word Car, or Caer, signifving "a fort", and stair, or stairs, "a possession"; descriptive of an estate or possession in a fortified place. The ancient occupation of the district by the Romans is evinced by many remains of antiquity, such as coins, baths, &c., but chiefly by the military station called Castle-dykes, and a Roman camp on the farm of Corbie Hall. Castle-dykes is situated on the right bank of the river Clyde, the southern boundary of the parish; and from it a road ran across Clydesdale, passing the Clyde near Lanark, and running over Stonebyre hill, after which it crossed the Nethan. A road to and from Corbie has been distinctly traced for many miles; and from the concurrent opinions of antiquaries, this station is identified with the ancient Coria, a town of the Damnii, through which ran the great road from Carlisle to the wall of Antoninus. In the twelfth century, the manor and church belonged to the Bishop of Glasgow, whose right was confirmed by bulls from several popes. After the death of Alexander III., Bishop Wishart, with the consent of Edward I. of England, who had come to the north to settle the dispute between Bruce and Baliol, built a stone castle near the church; and the manor and parish continued the property of the see of Glasgow till the Reformation.

The PARISH, which is of an oblong form, is six miles in length, from north to south, and its average breadth is about three miles. It contains 11,840 acres. The surface is irregular, and is conspicuously marked in some parts by sand-knolls, which rise from fifteen to sixty feet above the general level, and inclose numerous mosses, formed from old woods, vegetable remains carried thither by winds, and the decomposition of plants, with an accumulation of stagnant water. The southern part is picturesque and beautiful, and ornamented by the expansive stream of the Clyde, the banks of which are enriched with fine pasture. On a slope embosomed in forest scenery, and surrounded with plantations, lawns, and shrubberies, stands the magnificent structure of Carstairs House, the approach from which to the village furnishes one of the most interesting prospects in this part of the country. The village itself is remarkable for its neatness, and for the taste exhibited in its little gardens. The river Mouse flows in a western direction through the centre of the parish, amidst dreary tracts of moss, among which it forms many deep pools; trout, pike, and various other kinds of fish are taken by angling.

Near the Clyde the SOIL is an alluvial deposit, bearing very superior crops. Between this and the passage of the Mouse is a continuous bed of sandy earth, chiefly in the form of knolls, on a subsoil of sand and stones; and beyond the Mouse, the soil in the western district is clayey, and in the eastern chiefly a flat moss. The number of acres cultivated, or occasionally in tillage, is 9936; in waste or pasture, 1509; and in wood and plantation, 400: of those which are waste, 500 are supposed to be capable of profitable cultivation. The produce consists of oats, barley, potatoes, turnips, and hay; the cattle are of the Ayrshire kind: all the modern improvements in agriculture have been adopted, and the growth of turnips has been particularly attended to. The annual value of real property in the parish is £6465. The prevailing rock is grey sandstone; there are considerable quantities of whinstone, and some limestone, and in the north-west is a bed of fine clay, near which a tile-work has been erected, where drain-tiles are made. The road from Lanark to Edinburgh, by Carnwath, and also that by Wilsontown, and the road from Glasgow to Peebles, all run through the parish; as also does the Caledonian railway, which affords great facility of intercourse. Carstairs is within the bounds of the presbytery of Lanark and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; patron, Henry Monteith, Esq. The minister's stipend is about £234, and there is a manse, a well-built structure, with a glebe of the annual value of £35. The church, which was built in 1794, is situated in the centre of the village, on an eminence; it has a handsome spire, and contains 430 sittings. There is a parochial school, in which the classics, practical mathematics, and all the usual branches of education are taught; the master has the maximum salary, with a house and garden, a bequest of £1. 10. a year, and £27. 13. fees.

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