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Garvald and Bara, Haddingtonshire

Historical Description

GARVALD and BARA, a parish, in the county of Haddington, 5 miles (S. E. by E.) from Haddington; containing 862 inhabitants, of whom 257 are in the village. The district of Garvald derives its name, signifying in the Gaelic language "the rough water", from the situation of its village on a rapid and impetuous stream, forcing its way through a channel of rugged fragments of rock, and which, after floods or continued rains, in the violence of its course throws out stones of great weio-ht upon the low grounds. Garvald and Bara were united in 1/02, and service was alternately performed in the church of each parish till the year 1744, when that of Bara fell into a state of dilapidation. The parish is nearly nine miles in length from east to west, and almost five in breadth from north to south; and is bounded on the north and east by the parish of Whittingham, on the south by that of Lauder in Berwickshire, and on the west by the parishes of Giiford, Haddington, and Morham. Its surface is varied, rising in elevation towards the Lammermoor hills, displaying in some parts an intermixture of heath and grass, and in others being richly cultivated and covered with lu.vuriant verdure. In several places the soil is a deep loam, resting upon clay, and exceedingly fertile; and in others, of a light gravelly nature, well adapted for the growth of turnips and potatoes, both of which are raised to a very considerable extent. The chief crops are oats and barley, potatoes, turnips, beans, and peas, with some wheat. The system of agriculture is highly improved; the farms are thoroughly drained and well inclosed, and much ground that was formerly barren heath has, by a liberal use of lime, been brought into an excellent state of cultivation. On the higher lands is fine pasturage for sheep, of which more than 7000 are in general kept, chiefly of the black-faced and Cheviot breeds, with an occasional cross of the Leicestershire, which appears to answer well; about 300 black-cattle, also, are annually fed and fattened for the butcher. The farm-houses and offices are substantial, and all the recent improvements in agricultural implements have been generally adopted. The annual value of real property in Garvald and Bara is £7571.

Nunraw, seat in the parish, was anciently a nunnery, a cell belonging to the priory of Haddington; a great portion of the building has been modernised, but it still displays many indications of antiquity. Hopes is an elegant mansion built by the present owner; it is pleasantly situated in a sequestered glen, near the Lammermoor hills, and in a well-disposed demesne, enriched with thriving plantations formed by the proprietor, who has also added greatly to the beauty and interest of the parish by various other plantations on the estate. The village is neatly built, and has facility of communication with neighbouring places by good roads kept in repair by statute labour, and by the turnpike-road from Dunse to Haddington, which passes for six miles through the parish. Most of its inhabitants are employed in weaving, and in the various trades requisite for the supply of a country district; and several are engaged in some freestone-quarries situated near the village. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Haddington, synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. The stipend of the incumbent is £189; the manse is a comfortable residence, erected in 1820, and the glebe comprises thirteen acres and a half of land, valued at £25 per annum. The church is an ancient structure, repaired and enlarged in 1829; it is adapted to a congregation of 360 persons, but is inconveniently situated at one extremity of the parish. There is a place of worship for members of the Free Church. The parochial school affords a useful education to about sixty children; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average about £16 per annum. Two friendly societies are kept up. Near the Lammermoor hills are the ruins of Whitecastle, a strong ancient fortress, erected for the defence of a pass from the Merse and from the English frontier. On the lands of Garvald farm are the remains of a circular encampment, about 1500 feet in circumference: there was a similar camp on the lands of Carfrae, the stones of which were used to form an inclosure; and in removing them for that purpose, the brass handle of a sword was discovered. At Newlands are tumuli called respectively the Black and the Green Castle; the spot was planted by the Marquess of Tweeddale, within the last few years, with Scotch firs. There are two other encampments, one on Park farm, and the other on the estate of Hopes.

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