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Currie, Edinburghshire

Historical Description

CURRIE, a parish, in the county of EDINBURGH, 6 miles (S. W.) from Edinburgh; containing, with the villages of Balerno and Hermiston, 2000 inhabitants, of whom 297 are in the village of Currie. This place, anciently called Kil-Leith from a religious establishment on the Water of Leith, is supposed to have derived its more general appellation from the remains of the Roman station Coria, which some antiquaries have identified with the immediate vicinity. The lands appear to have been the property of the Lennox family, of whose baronial residence of Lennox Tower there are still considerable remains on an elevated situation on the bank of the river, commanding a fine view of the Firth of Forth. This castle, which was the occasional residence of Mary, Queen of Scots, and afterwards of the Regent Morton, was a place of great strength, surrounded by a rampart, and inaccessible on all sides. A subterraneous passage afforded communication with the river, but it has recently been closed, to protect the cattle that graze on the site.

The PARISH is skirted on the south by the Pentland hills, and is about six miles in mean length, though its extreme points from east to west are eight miles distant. It is four miles in average breadth, and comprises an area of 11,009 acres, of which two-thirds are arable, and the remainder hill pasture and moss. The surface is generally elevated, and broken into numerous hills, of which Ravelrig, nearly in the centre of the parish, is 800 feet above the sea. There are also Currie hill and various others, some of which rise to a still greater height. The lower grounds are watered by the river of Leith, which has its source in three copious springs near the western extremity of the parish, and, after a course of fourteen miles, in which it turns numerous mills, flows into the Firth of Forth at the harbour of Leith. The soil is mostly a stiff retentive clay, and, though difficult to work, is fertile, producing favourable crops of grain of all kinds, notwithstanding that the harvests are usually late. The system of husbandry is in a very improved state; the lands are inclosed, and the farm-buildings substantial and commodious. Considerable numbers of black-cattle are reared in the pastures, and sent to Edinburgh; and during the spring and summer months, many sheep are purchased by the farmers, and fattened for the neighbouring markets. The annual value of real property in the parish is returned at £12,164. The principal substrata are limestone and freestone of excellent quality; and along the banks of the river, ironstone is found in abundance. The limestone is not wrought for agricultural use, from the want of coal to burn it; but near the village of Balerno are extensive quarries of freestone, from which materials have been taken for many of the buildings of the New Town of Edinburgh. In the lower parts of the parish, towards the north, are considerable remains of ancient woods; but on the higher lands, except on the demesnes of the landed proprietors, there are very few plantations. The seats are Riccarton, Malleny, Baberton, Ravelrig, Currie-Hill, Glen-Darroch, Larch Grove, Bankhead, West Brook, and Glen-Brook. The village of Currie is situated on the banks of the Water of Leith, and on the road to Lanark. The manufacture of paper was introduced here about the year 1790, by Messrs. Nisbet and Macniven, who erected extensive mills for that purpose; and there are also numerous corn and other mills in the parish. Facilities of communication are afforded by the roads to Lanark and Glasgow, by the Caledonian railway, the Glasgow railway, and the Union canal.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Edinburgh, synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. The minister's stipend is £264, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £16 per annum; patrons, the Town Council of Edinburgh. Currie church, a neat structure erected about the year 1790, is situated on an eminence on the south bank of the river; and its spire, rising above the foliage around, forms a pleasing feature in the scenery of the village. There is a place of worship for the United Presbyterian Church. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average £42. Opposite to Lennox Tower, on the other side of the river, are the ruins of the ancient mansion of the Skenes, of Currie Hill; and on the summit of Ravelrig are some remains of a Roman exploratory camp. Among the distinguished persons connected with the parish have been. Sir George Skene, lord registrar in the reign of James VI., and his son, Sir James, president of the court of session; Sir Thomas Craig, lord advocate in that reign; and the Scotts of Malleny, eminent lawyers of the same period. Sir Archibald Johnston of Warriston, uncle of Bishop Burnet, and whose son was envoy to Brandenburgh in the reigns of King William and Queen Anne, was a large landholder in the parish.

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