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Dornock, Dumfriesshire

Historical Description

DORNOCK, a parish, in the county of Dumfries, including the village of Lowthertown, and containing 847 inhabitants, of whom 203 are in the village of Dornock, 2 miles (E. by S.) from Annan. The name of this place is usually derived from the Celtic words tor or dor, signifying an oak or wood, and nock, a knowe or hill, and is said to have been applied in consequence of forests of oak once growing here. According to a prevailing tradition, a battle was fought upon a moor in the neighbourhood, between a party of English under Sir Marmaduke Langdale and Lord Crosby, and a body of Scots under Sir William Brown of Coalston, in which the English were defeated, and both their commanders slain. The supposed graves of the two leaders are still shown in the churchyard, and a spring near the spot where the battle was fought bears the name of the Sword Well. At Stapleton is a strong square tower with battlements on the top, built by a person of the name of Irvine, it is supposed as a place of safety against the depredations of the English borderers.

The PARISH reaches from east to west about two miles and a half, and from the Solway Firth on the south to the river Kirtle on the north measures five miles, comprising an area of about 5000 acres. It contains some beautiful scenery, and is much frequented for its sea air and bathing. The small river Kirtle and the expanse of the Solway comprehend the chief of its waters; in the former eels and pike are found, and salmon-fishings are carried on in the Solway to a considerable extent by means of stake-nets. The greater part of the land is under tillage, and large tracts in the parish are appropriated to grazing; the mosses, which alone are uncultivated, amount to about 300 acres, and 150 acres are plantation. Oats and barley are the only grain sown, while potatoes and turnips, with large quantities of hay, are the chief green crops; the soil is of a loamy nature, with a hard tilly bottom, and is in general productive. The cattle are of the Galloway breed, and about 200 cows are kept for the dairy; a considerable number of swine are fattened, and the hams sent to England. The best system of husbandry is adopted; the manure used is farm-yard dung, and lime; draining has been carried on to a good extent, and improvements are still in progress. The annual value of real property in the parish is £3503. Robgill Tower, an old border fortress, modernised, and now the residence of the Smail family, is beautifully seated on the banks of the Kirtle. The village of Dornock is pleasantly situated upon a gentle eminence about a mile from the coast, and commands a fine view of the Firth; a third of the inhabitants are engaged in hand-loom weaving and the manufacture of checks and ginghams. The Glasgow, Dumfries, and Carlisle railway, and the turnpike-road from Carlisle to Portpatrick, run through the centre of the parish from east to west, the former passing by the village, and the latter through it: the railway has a station here.

Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Annan and synod of Dumfries; patron, the Duke of Buccleuch. The stipend is £208, and there is a manse, built in 1845, with a glebe valued at £25 per annum. Dornock church, built in 1797, is a plain unadorned structure, containing 300 sittings: in the churchyard are some ancient and rather curious tombstones. There is a parochial school, in which all the usual branches of education, and sometimes Greek and Latin, and also mathematics, are taught; the master has a salary of £34, about £20 fees, and the allowance of a house and garden, with an acre of land. The remains of a Druidical temple are still to be seen in the eastern part of the parish, on the farm of Eastriggs: at the distance of 200 yards west of it, is a large cairn; and at the same distance eastward is another, of smaller dimensions. Old British coins and pieces of armour have been found.

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