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Durisdeer, Dumfriesshire

Historical Description

DURISDEER, a parish, in the county of Dumfries; containing, with part of the village of Carronbridge, 1445 inhabitants, of whom 107 are in the village of Durisdeer, 6 miles (N. by E.) from Thornhill. This district, which in ancient times was covered with wood, is supposed to derive its name from duris, signifying a door, and deer, a forest. Several great families have been connected with it, the chief of which are those of Douglas, Stuart, the Menzies of Enock, and the Hunters of Balagan. Its castle, with the fortresses of Dumfries, Dalswinton, and Morton, by an agreement between the English and the Scots, was demolished, as troublesome to the former, at the restoration of King David Bruce, who, after being captured at the battle of Durham, had been kept eleven years prisoner in England. The parish is eight miles long and six broad, and contains nearly 20,000 acres. It is almost surrounded by hills, covered with grass, heath, or bent, and the highest of which are the Lowthers, on its north-eastern side, which rise 3130 feet above the level of the sea: the climate is bleak, but dry and healthy. The river Nith runs through the lands, in a direction from north-west to south-east, and besides this important stream, there are five considerable burns, viz., the Enterkin, the Carron, the Hapland, the Maarburn, and the burn at Crarie-Knoll.

The soil in general is loamy, deep, and fertile, in many places inclining to a reddish colour; in some parts it is gravelly and sandy, and occasionally wet and heavy. About 7896 acres are cultivated, 9554 are hill-pasture, and 2000 are occupied by wood, including 500 acres that are of natural growth: the plantations chiefly consist of hard-woods, in the thinning of which every tree is in course of time removed, except the oak. The usual kinds of grain and various green crops are raised, of good quality; the cattle are of the Galloway breed, and the sheep the black-faced: the improved system of husbandry is followed, and considerable advances have been made in fencing, the construction of farm-buildings, and the formation of roads. The annual value of real property in the parish is £7901. The rocks in the hills are whinstone or greywacke, and on the low grounds chiefly sandstone of a red colour, and very soft. though in some places white, and of a much firmer texture: quarries have been opened for stone adapted for farm-buildings and dykes. Drumlanrig Castle, in the parish, a seat of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, whose property extends over a very large district in this part of the country, is described under its own head. The village is situated near the eastern boundary of the parish, on the road from Dumfries to Edinburgh. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Penpont, synod of Dumfries; patron, the Duke of Buccleuch. The stipend of the minister is £221, and there is a manse, with a glebe valued at £25 per annum. Durisdeer church, erected in 1720, contains a handsome marble monument, representing James, second Duke of Queensberry, weeping over the form of his deceased duchess: a vault attached to the church is the burying-place of the family. There are two parochial schools, in which the classics and the usual branches of education are taught; the salaries of the masters are respectively £30 and £24, with about £10 fees each, and the accommodation of a house each. A third school is carried on in the parish, at Enterkinford; the master receives £10 per annum from the Duke of Buccleuch. About a mile above the church are vestiges of a Roman camp which appears to have been a summer station connected with the camp at Tibbers.

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