Last of the Westland Whigs
In the late 17th century, the 'Westland Whigs' were the radical descendants of earlier Covenanters who had defied the absolutist rule of Stuart kings in south west Scotland.
- Name: Alistair Livingston
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The Rationalised Landscape of Enlightenment
|Kill Head (Kelhead) House near Annan -Roy's Military Survey 1755. From NLS Online Maps.|
Equipped with the same tools as the army surveyors, civil surveyors first mapped estates and then divided them up into geometrical blocks of land. new hedges, ditches and dykes were then constructed, imposing a rational grid upon the land. The old cruck-framed farm buildings were demolished and new stone built and whitewashed farm steadings were built. New roads were made, linking the new farms and fields to new towns and villages and newly improved ports.
The first of the new roads built through Dumfries and Galloway was what is now the Old Military Road which ran from Gretna to Portpatrick. This was constructed in 1764/5. At the hamlet of Carlingwark (now Castle Douglas, the road was joined by a new canal.
|Carlingwark Canal, built 1765.|
|Carlingwark Burn, Military Survey 1755.|
On a smaller scale, where medieval parish boundaries had followed the wanderings of streams, the urge to improve also led to which a process of rationalisation. In the photos below, the stream shown originally meandered towards the clump of trees (site of lost Leathes Burn Croft). When the new dykes were built, the course of the stream which marked the boundary (first recorded 1325) between Buittle parish and Kelton parish.in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.
|Kelton parish (Ernespie farm) boundary with Buittle parish (Leathes farm)|
|Gatehouse of Fleet in early 19th century. The ponds in the foreground supplied the cotton mills and were fed via a tunnel from Loch Whinyeon in the hills above the town.|
Thursday, January 03, 2013
Vikings and Gall-Ghàidheil in Galloway
Evidence for Viking settlement in Galloway is limited to two clusters of Norse settlement names in the Machars and the coastal fringe of the Stewartry as the map below illustrates.
As the first map shows, these were already well settled locations, corresponding to better quality (suitable for arable crops) land- as this land use map shows. It is from 1944 and shows arable land brown, good pasture pale green and rough/ poor grazing land yellow.
The Vikings who settled in these areas were probably from Dublin originally and likely to have been traders rather than farmers. They settled in the good quality land areas because that is where most of the people lived and because these areas were close to the sea and its trade routes.
However, by the time Timothy Pont surveyed Galloway circa 1590, settlements (farms) were far more widely distributed. I have 'dotted' in the farms and settlements shown on Pont's map of Galloway
Although Gaelic was extinct in Galloway by Pont's time, most of the farms he shows had Gaelic names which means that the people who extended the settlement pattern in Galloway into the Moors of Wigtownshire and the hills of the Stewartry were Gaelic speakers. Where did they come from? There is likely to have been some settlement by Irish Gaelic speakers, especially in the Rhinns, but again, as this map shows, it was along the coastal fringe.
This suggests that the main movement of Gaelic speakers into Galloway had another source. The most likley candidates were the Gall-Ghaidheil. The Gall-Ghaidheil are most likely to have originated in the Argyll/ Kintyre area when a group of Vikings were absorbed into a Gaelic speaking community and became Gaelic Vikings (Gall being the Irish/ Gaelic word for Viking at this time- ninth century).
The Gall-Ghaidheil expanded their influence around the Firth of Clyde into Renfrewshire and Ayrshire, before moving south into Galloway by land. The Gaelic speaking area occupied by the Gall-Ghaidheil formed a 'Greater Galloway' by the eleventh century.
David Parsons [Journal of Scottish Name Studies Vol. 5 2011] has suggested they may also have crossed the Solway to settle in north-west England. However, during the twelfth century, 'Greater' Galloway began to contract to the boundaries of present day Galloway and the kingdom established by Fergus of Galloway. In this 'lesser' Galloway (which included Carrick in Ayrshire), Gaelic survived into the fifteenth century. Most of the farms forfeit by the ninth earl of Douglas (as lord of Galloway) in 1455 had Gaelic names.[The map misses out two significant clusters of Gaelic named farms in the north of Kirkcowan and Penningham parishes.]
It is possible that some of the lands forfeit by the ninth earl of Douglas had been part of the pre-Douglas lordship/ kingdom of Galloway. If so, then the inclusion of farms in the uplands of Galloway is significant, since they give a potential link to the period of Gall-Ghaidheil settlement in the tenth and eleventh centuries.
My suggestion is that prior to the Gall-Ghaidheil influx, the settlement patterns in Galloway were still those shown on the first map, concentrated in the better quality lowland farming areas. If the Gall-Ghaidheil practiced a different style of farming, a style perhaps of cattle farming, which was able to take advantage of poorer quality land, they could then have opened up large areas of Galloway to settlement.
In the other areas where the Gall-Ghaidheil settled (other parts of south-west Scotland and in north-west England), existing settlements were more intensive/ extensive, so their long term impact ( Gaelic language) was less marked, but in Galloway they were able to become the dominant linguistic and political group.
The end result was the creation of an integrated farming economy in Galloway, supporting both arable and livestock farming. By introducing Cistercian monks and improved 'Norman' style arable farming, Fergus and the later lords of Galloway actively balanced cattle farming with other types of farming. This pattern of mixed land use survived into the eighteenth century.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Monday, October 15, 2012
Road and rail to Portpatrick
|Alternative road and rail routes to Portpatrick|
The Union with Ireland in 1801 prompted attempts to improve the harbour at Portpatrick Both Thomas Telford and John Rennie were involved in this ultimately unsuccessful venture.Part of Telford and Rennie's work involved suggestions for improving the Carlisle-Portpatrick route. One of their proposals was to cut the direct distance to Portpatrick by 8 miles. This involved a new route between Auchenreoch Loch and Creetown. This 'proppsed road' was shown on John Ainslie's 1820 map of southern Scotland. The first section ( shown xxxx on map above) was not used, but the section between the Boat of Rhone at the southern end of Loch Ken and Creetown via Loch Stroan and Loch Skerrow was used fifty years later when a railway from Castle Douglas to Portpatrick was planned.
However several local landowners objected to this part of the route and proposed an alternative - AAAA on the map.
This route was reviewed by a civil engineer who suggested it was a viable alternative.
However even this alternative missed out the county town of Kirkcudbright, which was eventually served by a branch line from Castle Douglas opened in 1864. A possible route via Kirkcudbright and Gatehouse then along the coast to Creetown is therefore shown - oooo on the map
Since Portpatrick harbour never succeeded in becoming the main port for cross- North Channel ferry traffic - Stranraer and Cairnryan replaced it - the routing of the railway via the proposed Telford/ Rennie road in order to shorten the distance was a major mistake. The engineering required (major viaducts and cuttings) added to the cost of the railway, while the steep gradients involved made working the line more difficult. In addition, by-passing the locally significant population centres of Kirkcudbright and Gatehouse reduced the profitability of the line. As competition from road traffic grew in the twentieth century, this became a major weakness of the rail route.
The route via Kirkcudbright and Gatehouse would have been a more viable alternative and may have continued to be useful even into the 1960s - thus saving it from closure.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Castle Douglas station plan 1894
|Castle Douglas Railway Station 1894|
|Castle Douglas Railway Station 1864|
This photograph shows the track formation.The line to Stranraer and Portpatrick enters from the left, the line from Kirkcudbright on the right.The path on the right gave access to Signal Box No. 2.
|Castle Douglas station track formation|
|Castle Douglas station looking west 1959. Kirkcudbright train departing.|
|Castle Douglas station looking east with bridge reduced to one span.|
Monday, September 10, 2012
Galloway Picts Trusty's Hill September update
|Rock cut well at Trusty's Hill May 2012.|
This is the latest update (10 September 2012) from the Galloway Picts / Trusty's Hill project
Some of the results we were able to divulge at the conference, for the first time, were the radiocarbon dates taken from eight separate pieces of charcoal and one single fragment of wood from a variety of contexts (or layers) from Trusty’s Hill. We now have a calibrated radiocarbon date of 536-646 AD from the occupation soil in Trench 4 that abutted the vitrified rampart along the east side of the summit of the fort, which is matched by a date of 533-643 AD from occupation soil in Trench 5 that abutted the rampart on the western side of the fort summit. Calibrated dates from a construction layer (of material swept up and laid across the rock-cut foundation trench) of the rampart include 529-623 AD from the east side and 513-378 BC from the west side.
Another Iron Age date of 515-381 BC was recovered from the base of a structural post-hole within the rampart at the west side though a lens of material from the core of the rampart above this yielded a date of 536-646 AD. The earliest stratigraphic occupation deposit in the corner of Trench 4 provided a radiocarbon date of 411-543 AD, while the backfill soil from Charles Thomas’ excavation of Trench 4 yielded a date of 551-646 AD. Meanwhile a piece of wood taken from the base fill of the rock-cut basin at the opposite side of the entranceway to the Pictish carvings was radiocarbon dated to 661-773 AD.
In summary, the radiocarbon dating indicates initial occupation of Trusty’s Hill around 400 BC. We don’t think the vitrified rampart dates to this time however, as an early sixth-early seventh century date was also obtained from this layer and another early sixth – mid seventh century AD date was taken from the vitrified rampart itself. Rather, we think the Iron Age material found within the foundation trench of the vitrified rampart is residual, swept up from the interior of the site and laid out as a bed of material for the timber frame and stone core of the rampart.
The Iron Age occupation of Trusty’s Hill appears to have been followed by a hiatus before the hill was re-occupied in the early fifth to early sixth century AD and fortified with a timber-laced rampart around its summit between the early sixth and mid seventh century AD. The rampart was probably destroyed around the end of this period in the early-mid seventh century AD. Interestingly, this broadly accords with Charles Thomas’ interpretation of two phases of occupation; that of an original Iron Age site re-occupied in the fifth/sixth century AD.
However, the radiocarbon date taken from the base of the rock-cut well at the entranceway indicates that this feature was still open and presumably used in the later seventh – eighth centuries AD, after the fort had been destroyed, which suggests that it was of sufficient importance to merit continued use long after occupation of the hillfort had ended.