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Crawford, Lanarkshire

Historical Description

CRAWFORD, a parish, in the Upper ward of the county of LANARK; including the village of Leadhills, and containing 1684 inhabitants, of whom 236 are in the village of Crawford, 3 miles (S. E.) from Abington. This place has claims to a considerable degree of antiquity. In the year 943, or about that time, a church was founded here, and dedicated to Constantine, King of Scotland; and the lands appear to have been subsequently divided into two portions, of which the larger was bestowed on the monastery of Newbattle, and the smaller on that of Holyrood. It seems to have been exposed to incessant attacks during the border warfare and the feuds of rival clans, and many of the ancient farm-houses were constructed as well for the purpose of defence against an assailing foe as for domestic use. The population was formerly much greater than it is at present, and the lands were divided among a larger number of tenants, the practice of joining together several small farms having for the last century been very prevalent in this part of the country. The PARISH is situated in the south-east portion of the county; it is about eighteen miles in length, and from fourteen to fifteen in breadth, and comprises 75,500 acres, of which 74,150 are pasture, chiefly sheep-walks, 1200 arable, and 150 in wood and plantations. Its surface is mountainous, and broken into glens and spreading valleys in almost every direction; the highest of the mountains are the Lowthers, which are chiefly in this parish, and have an average elevation of about 2450 feet above the sea. The hills in general rise gradually from their bases, and afford good pasturage for sheep; and the valleys between them, especially such as have been improved by draining, are fertile. The river Clyde has its source in the parish, on a hill 1400 feet above the level of the sea, and flows in a gentle stream till it receives the river Daer and numerous other tributaries in its course through the parish. There are springs of excellent water, affording an abundant supply.

The soil of the arable land is rich on the banks of the Clyde, and also near the streams which fall into that river, especially at their influx. In the other parts of the parish it is very various, though great improvements have been made by the use of lime and the introduction of green crops. The chief crops are oats, which thrive well; and the few dairies are profitably managed, affording, besides the produce of the dairy, excellent opportunities of rearing young cattle, of which, however, not many are reared, sheep being more profitable. The sheep are mostly of the Cheviot breed, to which the former stock of short and black faced sheep has given place. Wood does not now flourish; but there are several trees of great age, which are supposed to be the remains of an ancient forest; and a charter is still extant, in the possession of the Marquess of Lothian, in which the inhabitants of the parish of Crawford are invested with liberty to cut wood in the forest of Glengonner, where there are now only two or three solitary trees. The substratum of the soil is partially transition rock, and greywacke in all its various formations. Slate, though not of very good quality, is found, and a quarry has been opened on the lands of the Earl of Hopetoun, which gives employment to a few men throughout the year. The mining district of Leadhills is extensive, comprising an area three miles in length, and of nearly equal breadth, and is rich in a great variety of produce: a populous village has been erected within this district, which is described under the appellation of Leadhills. The annual value of real property in the parish is £12,341. The principal mansion-houses are the Hall, belonging to the Earl of Hopetoun; and Newton House, the seat of the late Lord Newton, by whom it was erected, in a substantial and handsome style.

The village of Crawford is of considerable antiquity, and formerly enjoyed numerous privileges, being anciently governed by a bailie of barony, and in later times having a court called a Birley court; it is situated on the road from Carlisle to Glasgow, and the inhabitants are chiefly employed in agriculture. A handsome chain-bridge was constructed over the Clyde at this place, in 1831, at the expense of the heritors; and over the same river, at Newton, is an elegant stone bridge, erected in 1824. Great facility of intercourse is afforded by the Caledonian railway, which passes through the parish, along the vale of the Clyde. Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Lanark, synod of Glasgow and Ayr: the minister's stipend is £233. 13., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £13. 10. per annum; patron, the Crown. Crawford church, an ancient structure in good repair, is conveniently situated, and affords accommodation to about 300 persons. There is a chapel in connexion with the Established Church at Leadhills, the minister of which has a stipend of £70, with a house, provided by the Earl of Hopetoun and the Mining Company. The parochial school affords a good education; the master has a salary of £34, with £16 fees, and a house and garden.

There are several mineral springs, two of which resemble in their properties those of Moffat; and near the boundary of the parish, at Campshead, is a petrifying spring, in which many beautiful specimens are found. Among the principal remains of antiquity is the castle of Crawford, which was surrounded by a moat, and strongly fortified; and there are still preserved memorials of ecclesiastical edifices formerly existing in the parish, one of which is an ancient cemetery on the banks of a stream called Chapel Burn. There are also several Roman camps, the most perfect of them being one on Bondsberry hill, and another on a farm called Whitecamp; the two Roman roads by Moffat and Dumfries united in this parish, and formed one great road towards Lamington. An urn of baked earth, containing fragments of bones, was discovered some years since on the Castle farm. The celebrated poet Allan Ramsay was born at Leadhills, where he resided till his removal to Edinburgh; and James Taylor, to whom is attributed the first discovery of the application of steam to the propelling of vessels on the sea, and who assisted Mr. Miller of Dalswinton in making some successful experiments in 1788, was the son of one of the overseers in the mines at Leadhills.

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