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
Saturday, July 09, 2016
Friday, July 08, 2016
Craignair quarry -Dalbeattie aerial ropeway
"THE AERIAL ROPEWAY- CRAIGNAIR TO DALBEATTIE"
from The Gallovidian, 1902.
from The Gallovidian, 1902.
When it is known that Messrs Newall turn out 25,000 tons of crushed granite annually, it will be readily recognised that the question of transit would prove a difficulty when undertaken by carting. Under such circumstances traffic was at times bound to become congested. To obviate the difficulty the managers (Mr W. N. Newall and Mr Gillespie) considered what system was most to be preferred. At first it was intended to construct a railway track, but the difficulty of bridging the River Urr had to be contended with, and ultimately the idea was abandoned as being much too costly. Mr Newall and Mr Gillespie then visited several ropeways running in the South of England, and came to the conclusion that a ropeway between Craignair and the railway was the thing required, and was forthwith erected. An idea of the saving of labour effected may be gathered from the fact that after the granite chips are thrown into the crusher, the produce is not again handled.
The crushed granite is conveyed to a special railway siding, constructed near Meikle Dalbeattie, by means of buckets drawn by a wire rope running round pulleys at each end. The buckets travel under the crusher bins (already mentioned), where six of them can be loaded at once, by simply pulling a lever. They are then pushed from under the bins and automatically leave the rail at the terminal station and are taken on by the cable. When once on the rope the buckets can only be released by lifting them bodily off, but if by chance or carelessness a load is allowed to run along to the station shunt rails unattended it would simply take on to the cable and automatically fix itself. The distance between the two stations is 870 yards, and to support the cable there are six graceful Eiffel-tower-like steel trestles from 30 feet to 50 feet high. Twenty-two buckets run on the cable, each having a carrying capacity of six cwts., and are calculated to convey 200 tons in a day. Along the extreme top of the trestles is a telephone wire connecting the two terminal stations. In the crusher buildings a six horse-power vertical engine drives the ropeway. Railway waggons are run alongside the station terminal and filled direct from the buckets, which are tilted by the man in charge. The waggons then pass over a weighing-machine specially constructed for the purpose. The ropeway is the first of the kind erected in Scotland.
Threave and Kelton -at the Crossroads
Threave and Kelton Mains – at the cross roads of history.
|Kelton Mains shown by Pont in 1590 as M[eikle]Grange -from Blaeu's Atlas 1645 (N.L.S. maps)|
Today the busy A 75 Euro-route passes through Threave estate carrying ferry traffic to and from the north of Ireland. Just outside the estate, the east-west route of the A 75 crosses the A 713 which runs north through the Glenkens towards Ayr. Travellers have used the routes followed by these modern roads since before the Romans built their fort at Glenlochar 2000 years ago.
The Romans built their fort to control an important territory of the Novantae people. This territory stretched up the rivers Dee and Ken from Threave into the Glenkens. The bronze 'pony cap' from Torrs loch near Castle Douglas, a bronze mirror from Balmaclellan and the Carlingwark loch cauldron show the importance of this territory in Roman and pre-Roman times. Pieces of scythe blade found in the Carlingwark cauldron along with an ard (early plough) found beneath a crannog on Milton loch show that cereal crops were cultivated here 2000 years ago.
After the Romans, the next set of invaders to occupy the Kelton/Threave crossroads were Angles from Northumbria. The Angles built a church at Kelton and dedicated it to St. Oswald the Martyr, a Northumbrian king who died fighting the still pagan Mercians in 642. Local historian Daphne Brooke argued that Kelton/ Threave was the centre for a Northumbrian shire which extended north into the Glenkens. At the core of this Northumbrian shire were a set of cereal producing estates, including Kelton and Threave.
The period of Northumbrian rule probably lasted from the late seventh century to the late ninth century. From the ninth century onwards, Galloway was taken over and settled by the Gaelic speaking descendants of Vikings. These were the Gall – Ghaidheil who gave their name to a greater Galloway which by the eleventh century stretched south from Renfrewshire and west from Annandale. Professor Thomas Owen Clancy suggests that the first Gall- Ghaidheil settlements in Scotland were around the Firth of Clyde with a separate group in Wigtownshire. Settlement in the Stewartry probably began with a trading post at Kirkcudbright and there is a cluster of Norse place names around Kirkcudbright. The thousands of Gaelic place-names in Galloway show the extent and duration of these settlements, but the survival of the Brittonic Threave and the Northumbrian Kelton suggests that these lands were taken over as 'going concerns' by their new owners.
In the early twelfth century, the arable lands of Kelton and Threave became a core part of Fergus of Galloway's kingdom. It was probably Fergus who built the wooden fort on Threave island which was burnt by Edward Bruce's soldiers in 1308. This event was part of a struggle for the Scottish throne between the Bruce and Balliol families which lasted for nearly 70 years and which provoked the Scottish Wars of Independence. John Balliol won the first round of the struggle by becoming king of Scotland in 1292, but then Robert the Bruce seized the vacant Crown in 1306. In 1329, the crown passed to Bruce's infant son David II. In 1332, John Balliol's son Edward claimed the Scottish throne with English help. In 1356 he renounced the claim since the only part of Scotland he controlled was Galloway, which he ruled as the great-great -great-great grandson of Fergus of Galloway.
Even after Edward Balliol gave up the Scottish crown, English forces held key castles like Lochmaben. To help recover these castle and control Galloway, David II made Archibald Douglas Warden of the Western Marches in 1368 and granted him the lands between the Nith and the Cree in 1369, to which Archibald added (through purchase) Wigtownshire in 1371. By building Threave castle, Archibald was stamping not just his authority but that of the Scottish crown on the 'rebellious' province of Galloway. Archibald died at Threave castle in 1400, but within fifty years, the earls of Douglas had become powerful enough to threaten the Stewart kings of Scotland. In the summer of 1455, James II besieged Threave castle but his cannons were unable to breach its defences so the castle's surrender was negotiated.
The lordship of Galloway and its lands, over one hundred farms, were now part of the Crown's estates. In the Exchequer Rolls for 1456, a lengthy account of these lands is given. These included Kelton Grange, Kelton mill, Over, Mid and Nether Kelton and Carlingwark. Kelton Grange is recorded as being 'occupied with the king's grain', as was Threave Grange on the west side of the Dee. The Exchequer Rolls also mention the movement of oxen for ploughing between the several grange lands now under the king's control. Just over 200 years later, teams of oxen were still toiling at the plough, as this tack (lease) for Keltonhill shows.
The Thomas Hutoune of Arkland who owned Keltonhill (or more likely his father, who was also a Thomas) can be connected to the siege of Threave castle in 1640. In The Minute Book of the War Committee of the Covenanters in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright in the years 1640 and 1641 Thomas Hutton of Arkland is recorded as representing the parish of Kelton on the Committee, a period which includes the siege of Threave castle in the summer of 1640.
The 'kipelles' mentioned in the tack are 'couples', timbers used for constructing a cruck-framed building for the new tenant and his workforce. Near Halketleathes farm in Buittle parish there is a Kipple Hill (NX 802 635), where timber for cruck-frames was grown. These buildings were very insubstantial. Like those at Kelton Grange, they were later replaced with stone farm buildings as part of the process of agricultural improvement. The same process of improvement also swept away most of the cottars' crofts. However, one of the seventeenth century tacks refers to a croft which can be identified -at Furbar and Furbar Hill on Threave estate.
The John Gae or Gaw who witnessed the tack was the tenant of Threave Mains. His son Robert was the tenant of Kelton Mains at the same time. Moving forward fifty years, it was at 'Furbar Ligget', that Captain Robert Johnston and the Reverend William Falconer of Kelton confronted a group of Galloway Levellers who had assembled on Kelton Hill in the summer of 1724. In his Rambles in Galloway, Malcolm Harper quotes an account of what happened passed on to Samuel Geddes of Keltonhill farm by his grandfather who had witnessed the event as a boy. 'Captain Johnstone was then laird, and had built a high dyke to fence his estate from the public road…anxious to preserve it he prevailed upon Mr. Falconer to accompany him in going to the levellers with the view of advising them to desist from their destructive proceedings…'
Bread and beer were provided for the Levellers and the dyke was left standing. Harper goes on to provide confirmation of the story by asserting that 'On a stone in the dyke of the right hand side of the road leading from Lochbank to Furbar House, there is a date, which is now indistinct, but about  it was plainly 1725, and is now commemorative of the event'. There is a stone with a date carved on it next to Furbar House. However, the date on the stone is 1753, not 1725 nor 1724.
But was Captain Johnston really the 'laird of Kelton' in 1724? It would seem that he was. At Whitehall in December 1705, Queen Anne granted 'Captain Robert Johnston ... the twenty pound land of Thrieve [Kelton] Grange, the lands and baronies of Gelston, Kelton...ordaining the manor place of Kelton to be the principal messuage [dwelling place].'
However, before Johnston could take possession of his new estate, the feudal superior of Kelton, William Maxwell, 5th earl of Nithsdale, had to grant Jonhston 'sasine', which he did on 16 April 1706. Maxwell's feudal rights dated back to 1526, when Robert Maxwell, the 5th lord of Nithsdale was appointed hereditary keeper of Threave castle and its lands. Although Johnston had, as member of the Scottish Parliament for Dumfries, opposed the Union of 1707, when William Maxwell and William Gordon of Kenmure led a Jacobite uprising which threatened Dumfries in October 1715, one of the depute-stewards of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright appointed to raise a militia in defence of Dumfries was Robert Johnston. Since there was a strong anti-Jacobite aspect to the actions of the Galloway Levellers in 1724, Johnston's anti-Jacobite credentials may have helped save his march dyke at Furbar.
If this dyke was newly built in 1724, this implies that Johnston was engaged in improving his estate. Since the existing farm house at Kelton Mains would have been of very basic cruck-frame construction with a thatched roof, part of Johnston's improvements would have been to build a mortar and stone walled farm house with a slate roof. It therefore seems likely that it was Robert Johnston who built the original parts of Kelton Mains farm house sometime between 1706 and his death in 1735, most probably around 1720. Johnston left his estate burdened with debt and in 1744 his grandson Robert Mcdouall was forced to sell the Mains of Kelton and its parks (fields).
The first real sign of the age of the improvements which transformed the farmed landscape of Galloway can be traced in the arrow straight line of the Carlingwark canal (now the Carlingwark Lane) which runs through Threave estate. The canal was cut through the marshland which separates Carlingwark Loch from the river Dee by Sir Alexander Gordon of Greenlaw in 1765. The canal carried marl, a lime rich clay dug out from the loch, to farms along the Dee and Ken upstream as far as New Galloway 15 miles away. The collapse of the Ayr Bank in 1772 bankrupted Gordon who sold Carlingwark Loch and the surrounding land to Sir William Douglas in 1789. It was William Douglas who planned and built the new town of Castle Douglas with its grid like street pattern and its (unsuccessful) cotton mill.
Although the new town failed as an industrial centre, it thrives to this day as a market and commercial centre for the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright – helped by its location at the ancient crossroads of Kelton and Threave.
Alistair Livingston 2 September 2010
Saturday, July 02, 2016
British Association for the Advancement of Science
The Origins of the British Association for the Advancement of Science
A. D. Orange (1972).
The British Journal for the History of Science,
The British Journal for the History of Science,
Monday, April 18, 2016
Vikings, Normans and Cumbrians
In 1998 I visited the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh where my son Callum was going to become a pupil. Before catching the train back home I popped into a bookshop and found ‘The Uses of Place-Names’ edited by Simon Taylor which had just been published. It was and is an utterly fascinating book, Since reading it I must have spent hundreds of hours poring over new and old maps, searching through historical texts, plodding across muddy fields, pushing through thickets of trees and navigating tracts of moorland in search of named places. I have also written thousands of words about what I found in these different explorations.
However, although I can find the places and their history over the past few hundred years, I do not have the deep linguistic knowledge of place name experts. I cannot tell if a particular place name is Old English or Old Norse, or if a word which looks Scots was originally Gaelic.
For example ‘Lockhart Hill’ in Balmaghie parish, Stewartry of Kirkcudbright looks as if it was named after someone called Lockhart who once owned it. But Sir Herbert Maxwell in ‘The Place Names of Galloway’ compares it to Barlockhart and Drumlockhart in Wigtownshire and suggest they all contain the Scottish Gaelic word ’lucairt’ which has various meanings including ’castle’. Drumlockhart overlooks Lochnaw castle in the Rhinns of Galloway and Barlockhart a medieval motte in Glenluce village.
‘Lucairt’ has its origins in the Irish ‘longphort, a name first given to Viking camps but later meaning ‘palace’ or other important building. There are no palaces or castles near Lockhart Hill, but it is near Glenlochar, another possible ’luchairt’. Here the origin may be the large Roman fort at Glenlochar- the remains of which were still substantial enough to be mistaken for a ruined abbey in the seventeenth century- or it could refer to an actual Viking longphort in the vicinity.
In a previous post I have looked at this last possibility. A large part of the evidence supporting the Viking longphort hypothesis comes from Scandinavian place names plus two Viking graves in the surrounding area. Unfortunately, I have discovered a possible complication. There is a possibility that some Old Norse speakers from Cumberland may have been planted in Galloway in the twelfth century. These not so Old Norse speakers could then have given Scandinavian names to their new farms…
This possibility comes from connecting the following sources.
First source -Richard Oram’ The Lordship of Galloway’ (2000) from pages 67 and 194.
Probably in the late 1140s, Uhtred [son of Fergus of Galloway] was married to Gunnilda, daughter of Waltheof of Allerdale…Through this marriage, Uhtred became lord a small estate at Torpenhow in west Cumberland…Gunnilda of Allerdale brought Uhtred in contact with a changing world across the Solway…In return it was this new Cumberland and Westmorland society that provided Uhtred and his son Roland with the body of colonists they introduced into their territories.
These ‘colonists’ would have been the builders of most of the 31 mottes in the central Stewartry discussed by Christopher Tabraham in ‘Norman Settlement in Galloway’ ( In ‘Studies in Scottish Antiquity’ edited by David Breeze, 1984)
The second source is David Parsons article ‘ On the Origins of ‘Hiberno-Norse Inversion Compounds’’ in the Journal of Scottish Names Studies Vol 5 (2011)
Amongst the earliest witnesses to the vernacular language [of northwest England] there a small number of 12th century inscriptions which suggest that Old Norse was alive at that date. Although it is not impossible that the language here was a recent reintroduction from the Irish Sea area, it also seems possible that Norse might have remained the locally dominant vernacular in parts of the region between the 10th and 12th centuries… [page 126]
Parsons then suggests [page 139] that if some of the Gall-Ghaidheil (Gaelic speaking Vikings who gave their name to Galloway) had pushed further southwards across the Solway they may have (re)learned Norse in the English north-west…
It is therefore possible that when Fergus of Galloway’s son Uhtred married his Cumbrian wife, this was consolidating a connection between Galloway and Cumberland that already existed. As a consequence, the motte-building colonists Uhtred and Roland (possibly even Fergus himself) introduced to Galloway may have been distant kin of Galloway’s Gall-Ghaideil rather than ‘Normans’.
This may seem very unlikely, but there is evidence which links some of Christopher Tabraham’s ‘Norman’ mottes with Scandinavian place names.
Gribdae farm, map reference NX 73 50, was first recorded in 1365 as ‘Gretby’ and the -by (byr) means it is included in all the various lists of Scandinavian place names in Galloway. The record of the place name in 1365 comes from ‘The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland Volume I, 1306-1425’ entry 206 on pages 63-4. The text is in Latin so I can only give the jist of it, but it says that Dugal McDowall grants Littlilgretby in his lands of Kyrassalda to John Trumpour (trumpeter?), Herald of Carrick.
Kyrssalda is now Kirkarswell in Rerrick parish. The mention of Kyrssalda in the 1365 text is the first record of the name. Both Maxwell (1930) and Daphne Brooke (‘Northumbrian Settlements in Galloway and Carrick’, PSAS 1991) give the place name as ‘Kirk Oswald’- a chapel dedicated to the Northumbrian king and martyr St Oswald. However Andrew Symson writing in 1682 called Kirkcarswell, Kirkcastel.
However, as Brooke notes (page 305) the lands of Kirkcarswell were the only part of Rerrick parish which did not belong to Dundrennan Abbey, founded by Fergus of Galloway in 1142.
Tabraham (‘Norman Settlements‘, 1986, page 112) includes Kirkcarswell motte - map ref NX 754 487 - as a ‘definite’ motte plus bailey. Tabraham also notes that Kirkcarswell was not part of the Dundrennan lands and implies that this means there was already in 1142 an estate with the Kirkcarswell motte as its ’caput’ or centre.
|East Kirkcarswell motte|
Unfortunately, Tabraham does not develop this possibility any further. Oram (2000, pages 224-5) mentions Kirkcarswell as an example of a ‘classic’ motte but goes on to date building of the Galloway mottes to 1160 and later, as the work of Uhtred and Roland/Lochlann. Tabraham also mentions a possible motte site at Bombie map ref NX 715 505. Bombie was Bundeby in 1296 so another Scandinavian place name. Tabraham describes the site at Bombie as probably a ‘ringwork’.
At Boreland of Anowth, map ref NX 548 550, there is a Cumbrian connection to what Tabraham describes as ’this fine motte-and-bailey’. Circa 1170 the church at Anwoth ‘was in the possession of David fitz Terri lord of Over Denton in Cumberland’, who is assumed to have been the builder of Boreland motte. However. Jack Scott [‘The Partition of a Kingdom: Strathclyde 1092-1153’, Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 1997, page 25] argues that the Anwoth motte may have been built 50 or so years earlier, before Fergus of Galloway came to power. [Oram, page 56 disagrees]
|Boreland of Anwoth motte and bailey|
If the Kirkcarswell (Gribdae), Bombie and Anwoth earthworks were built in the very early twelfth century by ‘Normanised’ Cumbrians who settled Norse speaking tenants on their lands, this could be the origin of some of the Scandinavian place / farm names.
Alternatively, later plantation of lands gifted by Fergus. Uhtred and/ or Roland/Lochlann to Cumbrians who also had still Norse speaking followers could have had a similar effect.
Or the Scandinavian place/ farm names could have been created by Vikings….
Monday, April 11, 2016
A Viking longphort in Galloway?
|The Dee-Ken inland naviagation|
When the Vikings arrived in Ireland, they set up temporary encampments which the Irish called ‘longphorts’. One of these was long-lived and evolved into the city of Dublin, but most were not so enduring. Although western Galloway became part of a Dublin Viking kingdom, no longphorts have been found in Galloway, unless Herbert Maxwell, ‘Place Names of Galloway’ is correct and Long Fort farm near Auchenmalg Bay in Old Luce parish was a longphort. It is close to Sinniness which Maxwell derives from Old Norse sunan nes -southern headland.
Glenlochar = Gleann + luchairt?
Excitingly, as part of his ongoing research into the Gaelic place names of Galloway and Carrick, Michael Ansell may have found one. He suggests that the Gaelic place name Glenlochar in eastern Galloway might not be 'gleann luachair'- the rushy glen but 'gleann' + 'luchairt'. Luchairt is a Scottish Gaelic word derived from 'longphort', a Viking encampment. If Michael is correct, then Glenlochar represents ‘glen of the Viking encampment’.
A Viking longphort at Glenlochar means that the Vikings were accessing 25 miles of inland navigation on the Dee/ Ken river system - potentially from Kirkcudbright, where a Viking grave has been found, to the Boatpool of Dalry.
The location at Glenlochar is immediately interesting. In 1947, an aerial photograph revealed that that the site of what had previously been regarded as the site of an ‘abbey’ at Glenlochar was actually a Roman fort on the east bank of the Galloway river Dee. Altogether it is now known that there were two, possibly three, Roman forts at Glenlochar and at least five marching camps.
A mile downstream from Glenlochar is Threave castle, constructed in the late fourteenth century on an island site previously occupied by the Lords of Galloway in the twelfth century. Between Threave and Glenlochar is the site of a tower house used as a summer residence by the Gordons of Kenmure castle. Andrew Symson [‘ A Large Description of Galloway’, written 1682] noted that ‘the Vicecount of Kenmuir may easily transport himself and his furniture by boat’ from his castle to this residence, a distance of 12 miles. In the later eighteenth century, barges were worked from Threave island to the Boatpool of Dalry, a distance of 15 miles.
|Glenlochar Roman forts, Old Greenlaw and Threave Castle|
Navigation downstream from Glenochar was blocked by a ridge of rock at Tongland near Kirkcudbright. However, since it is known that Vikings could portage their boats around such obstacles, the rocks at Tongland would not have been a major difficulty for them. That there were Vikings in Kirkcudbright is known from the presence of a Viking era grave found in 1888 in the town. There is also a cluster of Scandinavian settlement place names around Kirkcudbright. Another probable Viking burial was found in a cairn on Blackerne farm in the eighteenth century. Blackerne is 3 miles east of Glenlochar.
|A Viking grave was found in 1756 on Blackerne farm.|
Cockleathes, Halketleathes and Leathes contain the Scandinavian place name element 'hltha', barn. In 1557, Ernespie farm was recorded as 'Quesby'. -by is another Scandinavian place name element.
The most important element in the understanding of Galloway’s history is the land itself. Soil quality and land utilisation maps show a large central area of poor quality rough grazing land. This stretches from the eastern shore of Loch Ryan in the west to Upper Nithsdale in the east. The Wigtownshire Rhinns are an area of good quality land. From Ballantrae along the Ayrshire coast lies another area of better quality land widening out until it joins with the better quality land of Upper Nithsdale in the Cumnock area. The area of better quality land then extends down towards Dumfries. Running north-west to south-east between Dumfries and Gatehouse of Fleet is broad strip of better quality land which also occupies the eastern half of the Wigtownshire Machars. North of Castle Douglas, an area of better quality land extends up the Dee/Ken valley to Dalry, but to the south underlying granite between Screel/ Bengairn and Criffel creates another area of rough grazing, apart from a small area of good quality land in Kirkbean and New Abbey parishes.
|South-west Scotland land quality map|
Unfortunately, the route of a hypothesised Roman road between Lower Nithsdale and Glenlochar has not been established. It probably followed the same ridge of higher ground taken by the mid-eighteenth century Old Military Road, but crossed the Urr in the vicinity of Old Bridge of Urr rather then the Haugh of Urr to reach Glenlochar. West of Glenlochar, a direct line to gatehouse of Fleet where there was a Roman fortlet is blocked by an area of higher ground rising from 400 feet up to 1200 feet at Bengray so a Roman route would probably have skirted this area.
On the course of the road were crannog sites at Lochrutton and Milton loch. The Glenlochar site would also have given the Romans control of the Dee/Ken valley. High status objects- the Balmaclellan mirror (found eight miles north of Glenlochar), Wheatcroft rein-ring (found 1 miles south of Glenlochar) the Torrs pony cap and Carlingwark cauldron (both found two miles south)- suggest the Dee/Ken valley was an important area and that the area around present day Castle Douglas was a centre of religious/political power.
However, by the sixth century, the Mote of Mark and Trysty’s Hill had become high status sites with Ardwall Island (visible from Trusty’s Hill) an important Christian religious site. But although Ardwall continued as a religious site until the eleventh century, both the Mote of Mark and Trusty’s Hill were destroyed in the later seventh century most likely by Northumbrian invaders.
|The 'T' is Trusty's Hill and 'W' Whithorn.|
While Whithorn became an important Northumbrian religious centre in Wigtownshire, no centre of Northumbrian power of similar high status replaced the Mote of Mark and Trusty’s Hill in the Stewartry.
In ‘The Northumbrian Settlements of Galloway and Carrick’ (PSAS, 1991), Daphne Brooke argued that there was a Northumbria ‘shire’ in the central Stewartry. This extended from the river Fleet in the west to the river Urr in the east and inland to Burned Island on Loch Ken, 6 miles north of Glenlochar. The Castle Douglas area (Kelton parish) would have been at the centre of this shire. The various estates and landholdings of this shire, having passed from native British to Northumbrian ownership then survived to become the ‘building blocks’ of the medieval Lordship of Galloway. Brooke used a list of lands forfeited to the Scottish Crown by the last Douglas lord of Galloway in 1455 to identify some of these key building blocks.
Unfortunately, Brooke misidentified Burned Island on Loch Ken as the ‘Arsbutil’ in the list of forfeited lands. However, also called Erysbutil and Irisbutil, Erthbutil and Arthbutil in the ‘Exchequer Rolls’ between 1456 and 1477, in 1566 the ’Exchequer Rolls’ list Yrisbutil as ‘alias Orchardton’. Orchardton is in Buittle parish and John Cairns built a distinctive round tower house there after being granted the lands of ‘Arsbutil’ by James II in 1456.
Without Arsbutil in the Glenkens, Brooke’s argument for a Northumbrian shire in the Stewartry is weakened. It is also possible to question some of her other Northumbrian evidence, as I have done previously. [‘Gaelic in Galloway Part Two-Contraction’ TDGNHAS 2012 pp 65-6]
If the Northumbrians did not take any great interest in the Stewartry, there would have been little to stimulate its agricultural economy. Without the need to support high status settlements, subsistence farming would have sufficed to meet the needs of its inhabitants. With no centres of wealth and population to match Whithorn, there would have been little in the district to attract Viking raiders. This would also have meant that there would have been little in the way of opposition to Viking settlers.
Brooke (1991) listed 28 Scandinavian settlement place names in the Stewartry of Kirkcubdright. Of these, eight are existing or former (Galtway) parish names. The rest, a form Hestan Island, are farm names. One of these, Sypland near Kirkcudbright, was first recorded in 1210. It is now divided into Little Sypland and Meikle Sypeland- which are two miles apart. The original farm was therefore very large. Almorness, a three mile long peninsula, was first recorded as one farm in 1376. It was still one farm in 1456 but had been divided into six farms by the eighteenth century.
|Brooke Scandinavian Place Names 1991|
Mapping the full extent of Viking settlement is difficult. As examples, Brooke includes Southwick in her list of Northumbrian place names and her list of Scandinavian places names. Herbert Maxwell (‘Place Names of Galloway’) identifies Senwick on the Dee estuary as Scandinavian but Brooke as Northumbrian. Maxwell gives the river Fleet as either Scandinavian or Anglo-Saxon (Northumbrian) while Brooke includes it in her Northumbrian list.
It may be significant that Brooke was carrying out the research that produced ‘Northumbrian Settlements in Galloway and Carrick’ while the 1984-1991 ‘Whithorn Dig’ was producing evidence for the importance of Northumbrian Whithorn. The place name evidence for the western Machars shows Scandinavian settlements -Eggerness, Sorbie, Bysbie, Arbrack, Kidsdale, Physgill, Appleby and Ravenstone- in an arc around the Northumbrian settlements of Whithorn, Oughton, Broughton and Pouton.
This evidence has led to the suggestion that Northumbrian power in the Machars was strong enough to employ Viking settlers as a protective shield around Whithorn. [e.g. Brooke ‘Wild Men and Holy Place, 1994, p.65]
But in the Stewartry, there was no equivalent to Whithorn. If there was, however, an inland/upriver Viking longphort at Glenlochar- close to earlier (late Iron Age/ Roman) and later ( medieval lordship of Galloway) centres of power, then the balance of probability between Northumbrian or Scandinavian settlement place names shifts towards Scandinavian origins.
In the 1930s, the Dee/Ken river system (and also the river Doon in Ayrshire) was altered by the Galloway Hyrdro-electric Scheme. On the lower Dee a barrage was constructed at Glenlochar and a dam at Tongland. It is therefore necessary to rely on pre 1930s Ordnance Survey maps to survey the lower Dee. These older maps show that even before the barrage was constructed at Glenlochar, the Dee was much wider above Glenlochar than it was below. Between Tongland and Old Bridge of Dee, the river was much narrower, in places less than 100 feet wide.
The pre 1930s maps also show four fords between Old Bridge of Dee and Tongland as well as three ‘forts’ and two ‘moats’ close to the river. There is a definite motte at Kirkcormack and also a chapel site. Kirkcormack was a pre-Reformation parish, now part of Kelton parish. Although the motte at Kirkcormack is post-Viking, the farms of Milnthird and Netherthird which were in Kirkcormack parish are included in Brooke’s list of Scandinavian settlements.
Assuming that the Vikings used the river Dee to reach the Glenlochar longphort, the need for portage at Tongland and to navigate five miles of narrow and sometimes shallow river from Tongland to Old Bridge of Dee would have been a strategic weakness. This suggests that either the lands along the lower Dee were already settled by Vikings or that they were soon after the Glenlochar longphort was established.
That what became the parishes of Tongland and Balmaghie on the west bank of the lower Dee and Kirkcormack and Kelton on the east bank formed a connected unit of territory is suggested by evidence from the twelfth century.
The ‘Saints in Scottish Place Names ‘ database http://saintsplaces.gla.ac.uk/place.php?id=1107 (and other sources) links Kirkcormack to other parish and chapel sites on the lower Dee.
Between 1172 and 1174 King William grants to Holyrood Abbey the churches or chapels in Galloway (in Galweia) in which Iona Abbey has proprietary right (que ad ius abbatie de Hij Columchille pertinent), with all teinds and other benefits (beneficiis), viz the church of Kirchecormach [medieval parish, now in Kelton], and ‘ecclesiam Sancti Andree [= Balmaghie] and that of Balencros [Barncrosh, in Tongland] and that of Cheletun [Kelton]. RRS ii no. 141.
Significantly, although he suggests that the four churches were gifted to Iona Abbey by Fergus in the earlier twelfth century, Richard Oram [‘The Lordship of Galloway’, 2000, p. 10 ] notes that
Dedications to Columban saints, such as Colman and Buittle, Urr and Colomonell in Carrick, Aid mac Bricc at Kirkmabreck, Bride at Blaiket, Cormac at Kirkcormack and Cummene at Kirkcolm, display a striking correlation to the main zones of Scandinavian settlement…particularly to the zone around Kirkcudbright.
Two miles south-east of Kirkcormack there is Kirkbride farm.There is another Kirkbride in Anwoth parish and Kirklebride in Kirkpatrick Durham parish. Near Dalbettie, what is now the Little Kirgunzeon Lane was called the Pollchilbride- St Bride’s chapel stream- in the twelfth century. However, unlike Cormac and Aid mac Bricc, none of the chapels dedicated to Bride became parishes. On the other hand, they may indicated other areas of Viking settlement.
There is also an Arkland in Anwoth parish which is included in Brooke’s list of Scandinavian places names. In Kirkpatrick Durham there is another Arkland which is adjacent to Kirklebride. In the former Kirkcormack parish there is a third Arkland, now divided into Over, High and Low Arkland. In her 2003 PhD thesis E A Grant [ Scandinavian Place-Names in Northern Britain as Evidence for Language Contact and Interaction ] following Maxwell, suggested that Areeming in Kirkpatrick Durham, which is adjacent to Kirklebride and Arkland is similar to the Wigtownshire Airiehemming. Grant suggested both contain the Old Norse personal name Hemingr + Gaelic airigh.
This raises the possibility that Aireland (originally in Gelston parish, now Kelton) and which shared grazing in common with Arkland (Kirkcormack) in the seventeenth century may also have a connection to same period of settlement as the block of Scandinavian named farms to the south and west.
|Sketch map of possible Viking settlements by density of place names.|
Although some Irish longphort had inland locations beside rivers, most were coastal. [See Clare Downham https://www.academia.edu/1514025/Viking_Camps_in_Ninth-century_Ireland_Sources_Locations_and_Interactions ]
The most obvious locations for longphorts in the Stewartry would have been around the tidal limits of the Cree, Fleet, Dee, Urr or Nith estuaries. Since a Viking grave was found at Kirkcudbright on the Dee, Kirkcudbright would seem the more obvious location for a longphort rather than Glenlochar 12 miles inland.
One possibility for choosing an inland location was security. In 902, the Vikings were driven out of Dublin by the Irish. If there already was Viking settlement around Kirkcudbright, one of the leaders of the Dublin Viking community may have chosen Glenlochar as a safe haven to rebuild and regroup before attempting to retake Dublin- which was achieved in 917 by Sitric Cáech (Sigtryggr) and Ragnall ua Ímair (Røgnvaldr).
Since Ragnall/ Røgnvaldr may have ruled over an area of southern Scotland and/or the Isle of Man, the Glenlochar longphort may have been his location between 902 and 917. But what was he doing there during those years?
Possibly he was exploiting a local resource- timber. Seventeenth century records show that there were still woodlands at Cumston near Kirkcudbright, near New Galloway and above Dalry where Alexander Gordon of Earlston sold his woodlands for 23 000 merks (£640 sterling) in 1691. In the tenth century, the Dee/Ken river system would have been well wooded. A longphort at Glenlochar would have given its occupier access to this timber which could then have been used to build a handy fleet of Viking longships in preparation for a return to Dublin. (As an aside, in 1204, Alan of Galloway offered to provide King John of England with a fleet of 100 ships when John was at war with Phillip II of France. Also see Stockarton discussed below)
Alternatively, if the Glenlochar longphort was established earlier, it may have been used to control trade and communication routes through the Stewartry. Discovered in 1912 and dated to 875, a Viking era metalwork hoard from Talnotry, 17 miles north west of Glenlochar, implies that what was to become a medieval pilgrimage route between Edinburgh and Whithorn was already in existence. This east-west route crossed a north-south route into Ayrshire at the head of Loch Ken. A group of tenth century cross-slabs near Carsphairn lie on this route, possibly as markers.
The Roman east-west route crossed the Dee at Glenlochar and another east-west route crossed marshlands which stretch from the Dee to Gelston on a ridge of high ground beside Carlingwark loch two miles to the south.
However, since the only high status location any of these routes gave access to at the time was Whithorn, control over them would have provided slim pickings for the Glenlochar Vikings.
On the other hand, the Talnotry hoard could be an indication that travel between the Firth of Clyde and the Solway Firth by land through the Southern Uplands was believed to be safer than by sea through the North Channel. A longphort at the head of Loch Ken, possibly near the site of Kenmure Castle would have facilitated control of both east-west and north-south routes.
Even if the north-south overland route was only of minor importance for the Vikings compared to the sea-lanes, it may have been one of the routes along which Gaelic spread into Galloway. The most obvious route for the spread of Gaelic into Galloway is the short hop across the North Channel but at the beginning of the tenth century the Wigtownshire coast was still being described as the ‘Saxon shore’ in Irish annals. [Both Alex Woolf ‘Pictland to Alba’ 2007 and Thomas Clancy ‘The Gall-Ghàidheil and Galloway‘, JSNS 2008 note this.]
It is possible that there was already a Viking presence at Whithorn by then since the last Northumbrian coins found at Whithorn date to around 880. But by the time Echmarcach mac Ragnaill, a former king of Viking Dublin died while on pilgrimage to Rome in 1064, the Saxon shore had acquired a new name. The territory Echmarcach mac Ragnaill ruled over at the time of his death was called ‘na Renna’- the Rhinns..
Rhinns is a Gaelic word, not a Scandinavia one, however. The most likely explanation for this is that while leading Vikings in Ireland continued to speak Old Norse, they would also have spoken Gaelic and most of their followers would have been Gaelic speakers. As a result the main group of Irish Vikings who settled in and took control of Wigtownshire during the tenth century would have been Gaelic speakers. The Viking/ Gaelic Kingdom of the Rhinns included the Whithorn and the Wigtownshire Machars, but it does not seem to have included the Stewartry or extended north through the Moors into Carrick and south Ayrshire.
Yet by the time Fergus emerges in the 1120s as ruler of a kingdom which included the Stewartry west of the Urr, Wigtownshire and Carrick, the whole territory had become Gaelic speaking. Significantly, Fergus’ kingdom was called Galloway, not the Rhinns.
Galloway takes its name from the Gall-Ghàidheil, but confusingly the Gall-Ghàidheil are first mentioned in mid ninth century Irish records. The Gall-Ghàidheil then disappear between 857 and 1034 when the death of Suibne mac Cinaeda, king of the Gall-Ghàidheil is recorded. What the record does not reveal is where Suibne ruled, but presumably not in the same territory as Echmarcach mac Ragnaill.
Thomas Clancy  has suggested that Bute was in the territory of the Gall-Ghàidheil at the beginning of the tenth century. Two hundred years later, Scottish records use ‘Galloway’ to describe a territory which stretched from Renfrewshire down through Ayrshire and into western Dumfriesshire. This was a much larger area than the territory Fergus controlled. Through the twelfth century this greater Galloway was gradually absorbed into the kingdom of Scotland.
In 1160, Scots King Malcolm IV, conquered Fergus’ kingdom but as the Lords of Galloway, Fergus’ descendants continued to hold sawy over the region.. When he died in 1234, Fergus’ great-grandson Alan was described as ‘king of the Gall-Ghàidheil’ in the Annals of Ulster. When Alan’s great grandson Edward Balliol made a bid for the Scottish Crown in 1332, his strongest support came from Galloway where he was described as the region’s ‘special lord’.
After Edward Balliol’s death in 1365, Archibald ‘the Grim’ Douglas re-established the Lordship of Galloway. The Douglas Lordship of Galloway survived until 1455, when all the Douglas lands were forfeited to the Scottish Crown. In 1456, the Abbot of Dundrennan Abbey produced a list of all these lands. The survival in this list of lands with 750 year old Northumbrian names led Daphne Brooke to propose that these lands, including Arsbutil (discussed above), had been the building blocks of Fergus of Galloway’s kingdom.
To return to the Gall-Ghàidheil. If the early tenth century territory of the Gall-Ghàidheil lay around Bute and was then extended south along the Clyde coast, the existence of a Dublin controlled Kingdom of the Rhinns would have been an obstacle to this expansion. But if the Kingdom of the Rhinns did not extend into Carrick to the north or the Stewartry and Nithsdale to east, these areas would have been available for settlement in the later tenth or early eleventh centuries.
However, if there had still been a strong Viking presence along the Dee/ Ken river system, as there still was in Wigtownshire, this would have been an obstacle to the Gall-Ghàidheil. Alternatively, if the main phase of activity associated with the Glenlochar longphort was in the early tenth century, by the later tenth century and early eleventh century, the Vikings settlers remaining in the lower Dee valley may have formed a defensive alliance with the incoming Gall-Ghàidheil to prevent their territory becoming absorbed into the Kingdom of the Rhinns.
This possibility would fit with Richard Oram’s suggestion that the original nucleus of Fergus of Galloway’s kingdom was centred on Kirkcudbright and the lower Dee valley. Although there is no historical evidence to link Fergus with Loch Fergus above Kirkcudbright, the Palace Isle and Stable Isle on the now drained loch may have been his original caput. Christopher Tabraham described the site as of ‘undoubtedly major importance’ in his study ‘Norman Settlement in Galloway’ (1984). Loch Fergus is one mile from the Scandinavian Bombie and Meikle Sypland and only half a mile from the Viking grave site in Kirkcudbright.
|Scandinavian place names orange, Gaelic blue, Scots red|
Summary and Conclusion
Although not discussed above, the discovery of a major Viking Hoard in Galloway in 2014 must lead to a re-assessment of the importance of Galloway during the Viking era. But if there was a stronger Viking presence in Galloway than previously suspected, the ripples from the Galloway Viking Hoard will affect our understanding of the preceding Northumbrian period and the later origins of Fergus of Galloway’s kingdom.
If we take Michael Ansell’s Glenlochar/ Glenluchairt ‘longphort’ suggestion as pointing to a significant inland Viking settlement in the Stewartry, then the presence of Scandinavian parish, farm and place names between the Fleet and the Urr, with a concentration in Rerrick, Kirkcudbright and Kelton parishes (which include the medieval parishes of Galtway, Kirkcormack and Gelston) becomes significant. What is difficult to see in this area is something similar to the pattern found in Wigtownshire, where an arc of Scandinavian farm and place names encircles a core of Northumbrian farm names around Whithorn.
If, as Daphne Brooke proposed, Kelton was at the centre of a Northumbrian shire, a centre of secular Northumbrian power similar to the religious centre of Northumbrian power at Whithorn, a similar pattern of place name evidence might be expected.
An alternative hypothesis is that after the destruction of the Mote of Mark and Trusty’s Hill sites, the Northumbrians did not establish any equivalent centres of secular power in the Stewartry but did take over existing chapel sites and/or created some of their own. However, none of the Northumbrian religious sites in the Stewartry were on the scale of Whithorn in Wigtownshire or Hoddom in Dumfriesshire.
Without the economic stimulus of a major religious or secular site in the Stewartry, the districts economy would have been based on small scale subsistence farming on patches of better quality land concentrated on drier land in the river valleys and interspersed by woodlands and wetlands.
In this scenario, it would have been Norse speaking Vikings and then the Gaelic speaking Gall-Ghàidheil rather than the Northumbrians who created the large farms and estates which - at least in the Stewartry- later formed the building blocks of what was to become Fergus’ kingdom and survived to be recorded by the Abbot of Dundrennan in 1456.
Quite how the Galloway Viking Hoard will fit into this picture remains to be seen. Much will depend on its dating and the duration of the settlement it is associated with.
Appendix One - Extended list of possible Scandinavian place names in Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Based on Brooke  plus additions marked *
Almorness- peninsula. Was one medieval farm, now several farms in Buittle parish.
Arbigland- farm in Kirkbean parish. Very high quality farmland.
*Areeming- farm in Kirkpatrick Durham parish, airigh +Hemingr
*Airieland- farm in Gelston now Kelton parish.
Arkland -farm in Anwoth parish.
*Arkland- farm in Kirkcormack now Kelton parish.
*Arkland- farm in Kirkpatrick Durham parish.
Bagbie- farm in Kirkmabreck parish.
*Balmaghie (Iona pre-1172)- Balmaghie parish.
Bareness- farm in Colvend and Southwick parish. May not be Scandinavian but from Gaelic easa -waterfall since adjacent to Southwick mill and not a headland.
*Barncrosh (Iona pre-1172 )- farm in Tongland parish.
*Blackerene (probable Viking burial)- farm in Crossmichael parish. Adjacent to Leathes in Buittle parish.
Bombie- farm in Kirkcudbright parish.
Borgue- parish, now includes medieval Kirkandrews and Senwick parishes.
Borness- farm in Borgue parish.
Cockleaths- former farm, now just a house in Buittle parish.
*Ernespie- farm in Crossmichael parish. Recorded in 1557 as ‘Quesby’. Ernespie is adjacent to Blackerne (Viking burial) and *Leathes (Lathys, 1330) in Buittle parish.
Fairgirth- farm in Colvend and Southwick parish.
*Finniness- farm in Balmaghie parish. No waterfall nearby, so less likely to be Gaelic easa. Land extends into broad section of river Dee so possible Scandinavian ‘nes‘.
Fleet- river. Boundary between Anwoth and Girthon parishes.
Gaitgill- farm in Borgue parish.
Galtway- farm in medieval Galtway parish, now part of Kirkcudbright parish.
Galtway- medieval parish, now part of Kirkcudbright parish.
Gelston- medieval parish, now part of Kelton parish.
Girstingwood- farm in Rerrick parish.
*Glenlochar- may be Gaelic Gleann Luchairt- longphort. Place name location on both side of river Dee in Balmaghie and Crossmichael parishes. On Crossmichael side, also site of Roman forts and marching camps.
Gribdae- farm in Kirkcudbright parish.
*Grobdale- two farms, one in Girthon parish, other in Balmaghie parish. Grobdale Lane (watercourse) is parish boundary.
Halketleathes- farm in Buitle parish.
Hestan Island- Rerrick parish. Maxwell suggests from Scandinavian hestum ey- horse island. Accessible at low tide from White Horse (White Port) Bay on which is adjacent to Horse Isles and Horse Isle Bay which are all on Almorness peninsula.
Kelton (Iona pre-1172)- parish, now includes Kirkcormack and Gelston.
*Kirkcormack (Iona pre-1172) - medieval parish, now part of Kelton parish.
Kirkcudbright (Viking burial)- parish, now includes medieval Galtway and Dunrod parishes.
*Kirkbride- farm in Anwoth parish.
*Kirkbride- farm in Kirkcudbright parish.
*Kirklebride- farm in Kirkpatrick Durham parish, adjacent to Areeming and Arkland farms.
Kirkdale- medieval parish, now part of Kirkmabreck parish.
Kirkmabreck- parish, now includes Kirkdale parish.
*Leathes- farm in Buittle parish. Recorded as ‘Lathys’ in 1330, with Cockleathes and Halketleathes as later sub-divisions. Adjacent to Blakerne (Viking burial). From ‘hlatha’ (Maxwell, 1930)
Mabie- farm in Troqueer parish, now Mabie Forest.
Milnthird- farm in Kirkcormack, now Kelton parish.
*Netherlaw- farm in Rerrick parish, recorded as ‘Nethrelathe’ in 1306. (‘hlatha’)
Netherthird- farm in Kirkcormack now Kelton parish.
*Newlaw- farm in Rerrick parish, recorded as ‘Newelathe’ in 1306. (‘hlatha’
*Overlaw- farm in Rerrick parish, recorded as ‘Ourelathe’ in 1306.
Rerrick- parish. (‘hlatha’
Southwick- medieval parish, now part of Colvend and Southwick parish.
Southerness- now a village in Kirkbean parish.
Sypland- now Meikle and Little Sypland in Kirkcudbrigth parish. The two farms are two miles apart.
Appendix Two- Stewartry parishes with area in square miles, arable potential (based on New Statistical Account), number of Gaelic farm names, medieval mottes (from Tabraham, 1986) and possible Scandinavian place names.
The need to be aware of parishes with medieval (Norman style) mottes is important since Middle English/Early Scots speakers settled around the mottes in the twelfth century may have introduced place names which have Old English or Scandinavian roots, thus creating confusion. On the other hand the mottes-representing grants of land by the medieval Lords of Galloway to non-Gaelic speakers - also correlate with areas of land suitable for arable farming so would have been attractive to pre-Norman Northumbrians and Vikings as well. Parishes which have medieval mottes but no Scandinavian places names are highlighted #. These are Balmaclellan, Dalry, New Abbey, Parton, Troqueer, Twynholm and Urr.
|Mottes from Tabraham 1986 plus nearby Gaelic farms and Scandinavian place names|
Anwoth- 16 square miles 50 % arable, 19 Gaelic farm names + medieval motte, possible Viking place name
#Balmaclellan- 37 square miles, 19% arable, 38 Gaelic farm names + medieval motte
Balmaghie-34 square miles, 29% arable, 29 Gaelic farm names, no medieval motte, but has Threave castle, possible Viking place name
Borgue-20 square miles, 65% arable, 22 Gaelic farm names + 3 medieval mottes, possible Viking place names
Buittle- 19 square miles, 32% arable, 22 Gaelic farm names, no medieval motte but has Buittle castle, possible Viking place name
Carsphairn- 88 square miles, 2% arable, 33 Gaelic farm names, no medieval motte, 10th century cross slabs, possibly Viking route
Colvend and Southwick- 37 square miles, arable ?, 32 Gaelic farm names + medieval motte, possible Viking place name
Crossmichael- 15 square miles, 80% arable, 27 Gaelic farm names, no medieval motte. Parish belonged to Lincluden Abbey/church, fortified site at Old Greenlaw, possible Viking grave.
#Dalry- 52 square miles, 19% arable, 35 Gaelic farm names + 2 medieval mottes
Girthon- 24 square miles, 25% arable, 27 Gaelic farm names, + medieval motte, possible Viking place name
Irongray -23 square miles, 52% arable, 17 Gaelic farm names, no medieval motte.
Kells- 74 square miles, 3% arable, 43 Gaelic farm names, no medieval motte, unless under Kenmure Castle.
Kelton- 18 square miles, 28% arable, 10 Gaelic farm names + 2 medieval mottes (Gelston and Kirkcormack), possible Viking place names
Kirkbean-17 square miles, 44% arable, 5 Gaelic farm names, no medieval motte, possible Viking place name
Kirkcudbright- 23 square miles, 23% arable, 12 Gaelic farm names, no medieval motte, but fortified site at loch Fergus and had later castle (Castledykes), possible Viking place names plus grave
Kirkgunzeon- 12 square miles, 42% arable, 17 Gaelic farms, no medieval motte.
Kirkmabreck-36 square miles, 22% arable, 25 Gaelic farm names + medieval motte, possible Viking place name
Kirkpatrick Durham- 31 square miles, 42% arable, 26 Gaelic farm names, no medieval motte, possible Viking place name
Lochrutton- 10 square miles, 80% arable, 10 Gaelic farm names, no medieval motte but crannog site occupied in 12th century
Minnigaff- 137 square miles, 7% arable, 83 medieval farm names, no medieval motte, possible Viking route (Talnotry Hoard)
#New Abbey- 17 square miles, 35% arable, 16 Gaelic farm names + medieval motte, Abbey
#Parton- 27 square miles, 4 % arable, 23 Gaelic farm names + two medieval mottes
Rerrick- 32 square miles, 63% arable, 28 Gaelic farms + medieval motte, Abbey, possible Viking place names
Terregles- 8 square miles, 88% arable, 4 Gaelic farm names, no medieval motte
Tongland- 10 square miles, 20% arable, 11 Gaelic farm names, no medieval motte, Abbey, possible Viking place name
#Troqueer- 9 square miles, 89% arable, 13 Gaelic farms names + medieval motte, Abbey
#Twynholm- 17 square miles, 65% arable, 10 Gaelic farm names + 2 medieval mottes
#Urr- 47 square miles, 83% arable, 14 Gaelic farm names + one massive motte, Motte of Urr
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Ironstone and Granite -book project
Ironstone and Granite- Outline of proposed book by Alistair Livingston 28 October 2014
1.The working title reflects the theme of the book which is an exploration of the divergent histories and economies of the western Lowlands north and south of the Southern Uplands Fault. In the nineteenth century, the presence of ironstone plus coal led to the development of the iron industry in Lanarkshire and Ayrshire. In Galloway and Dumfriesshire there was no ironstone and only a few areas with coal. Here the presence of granite and the Southern Uplands shaped the development of what is now the rural South of Scotland.
Until the beginning of the nineteenth century, agriculture shaped the economy and society of Scotland’s western lowlands - Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Galloway and Dumfriesshire. Then came two industrial revolutions. The first involved the rapid growth then decline of the cotton industry. The second saw the rapid growth and slower decline of the iron industry. The resulting division of the region between an industrialised and urbanised north and a rural and agricultural south has persisted to the present.
While the tragedy of the Highland Clearances has never been forgotten, it was the less dramatic Lowland Clearances which had the deeper impact. Economic migrants from southern Scotland first helped shape and drive the industrial revolution in north-west England before helping the revolution take root in Scotland. However, despite bold plans for canals and iron rail-roads in Galloway and Dumfriesshire, the lack of ironstone and coal saw the southern districts population decline after 1851 while that of the northern districts continued to grow.
The price of economic success was paid by the new working class as they lived and laboured under appalling conditions in the iron companies’ towns and miners’ villages. These new towns and villages bore little resemblance to the planned towns and villages of the Enlightened improvers. By the 1880s, just as steel was beginning to replace iron for shipbuilding and construction, supplies of Scottish ironstone began to run out. The shortfall was made up by imports of iron ore, but from then on the inland location of the iron and steel industry became a disadvantage.
The major nineteenth century changes in the rural south saw sheep farming extend across the uplands and dairy farming, pioneered by Robert Burns in Nithsdale, spread from Ayrshire across the more fertile lowland farms. In the twentieth century it was hoped that the Galloway hydro-electric project in the 1930s and forestry in the 1960s would stimulate rural employment, but they did not.
Looking forward to the twenty-first century, the different histories of both parts of this region have created difficult challenges to overcome. In the north, the passing of the age of industry has left in its wake areas of acute deprivation. In the south, the absence of industry has created different problems as young people move away to be replaced by retired people attracted by a quiet, as in all but lifeless, countryside. Yet if the strength of the Yes vote in Scotland’s former industrial heartlands implies a recognition of the need for change, the strength of the No vote in the south and other rural areas suggests a poverty or failure of the imagination, rooted in the conservatism of rural Scotland.
The value of this comparative study is that can provide a fuller and better understanding of the present by tracing the historical paths through which the political and cultural differences of that present emerged. In particular, how two very similar regions of Scotland were set on different trajectories by the industrial revolution. Although the industrial revolution are now the subject of industrial archaeology, it forged a modern and dynamic Scotland. The contrast with the rural south, a region still shaped by the aspirations of eighteenth century improvers is stark.
Across industrial Scotland, generations of struggle in a hostile and unforgiving environment created a passionate desire for social and economic justice It was this passion rather than nationalism which inspired and informed the grassroots Yes campaign. Those areas of Scotland, like the rural south, which had not undergone the ‘trial by fire’ of industrialisation lack this historical consciousness and so chose to vote No.
2. Chapter One- Introduction
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
[Ozymandias P. Shelley 1818]
In the cold light of dawn as the blue and white sea of saltires ebbed away, the political geography of modern Scotland was revealed on 19 September 2014. Charting the spread of Yes and No votes, the influence of history was also exposed. Not the passionate and romantic history of nationalism, of Bravehearts and Jacobites, but rather a more recent history shaped by the dismal science of political economy. While both nationalist heartlands of the rural north-east and the unionist heartlands of the rural south were united in their cries of ‘No’, the spectre which haunted the Yes campaign was the Victorian age of Industry and Empire. The sun may have set on the industries and the empire which supported them, but they have left Scotland with a pernicious legacy. The wealth which flowed out from the jute mills of Dundee, the shipyards of the Clyde, the great engineering works, the coal mines and iron furnaces of Ayrshire and Lanarkshire has gone, leaving enduring poverty in its wake.
Seventy years after Shelley wrote ‘Ozymandias’, Walter Montgomerie Neilson had a monument erected to celebrate a revolutionary discovery made by his father James Beaumont Neilson in 1828. James Neilson’s discovery was that heating the air blown into iron smelting furnaces dramatically improved their efficiency. Before this discovery, Scotland produced 36 000 tons of pig iron per year. By the time Neilson’s ‘Hot Blast’ monument was erected, this had risen to over 1 million tons per year. However, while there was no shortage of Scottish coal to feed the iron furnaces in 1888, Scottish iron ore was a more limited resource. From 1854 to 1881, annual production was two million tons but by 1890 it fallen to 1 million tons and by 1913 Scotland produced only 592 000 tons of iron ore. So even as Walter Neilson’s monument to his father was being built, the once fierce fires of the mighty iron works were already being damped down, although it would be another hundred years before the closure of the Ravenscraig steel and iron works in 1992 marked the final end of the revolution James Neilson had begun.
A fitting spot for the Neilson monument might have been close to Coatbridge parish church in North Lanarkshire. In 1869 a visitor described the scene.
From the steeple of the parish church, which stands on a considerable eminence, the flames of no fewer than fifty blast furnaces may be seen. In the daytime these flames are pale and unimpressive; but when night comes on, they appear to burn more fiercely, and gradually there is developed in the sky a lurid glow similar to that which hangs over a city when a great conflagration is in progress…There is something grand in even a distant view of the furnaces but the effect is much enhanced when they are approached to within a hundred yards or so. The flames then have a positively fascinating effect. No production of the pyrotechnist can match their wild gyrations. Their form is ever changing, and the variety of their movements is endless.
Now they shoot far upward, and breaking short off, expire among the smoke; again spreading outward, they curl over the lips of the furnace, and dart through the doorways, as if determined to annihilate the bounds within which they are confined; then they sink low into the crater, and come forth with renewed strength in the shape of great tongues of fire, which sway backward and forward, as if seeking with a fierce eagerness something to devour.
However, Neilson’s monument was built 90 miles away on a hill above the village of Ringford in Galloway. To the east and south green fields stretch across the landscape while to the north and west the brown and grey mass of the Galloway Highlands rise up towards Merrick, the highest peak in the Southern Uplands. Like the artists known as the ‘Glasgow Boys’ who followed him, the tranquil rural landscape of Galloway offered Glasgow born James Neilson a very different environment from the sprawling city he knew and the clangour of the industries he helped to create. Quite why Neilson chose Queenshill estate in Galloway to retire to in 1848 is uncertain, but the decision was probably influenced by the belief that he was a descendent of John Neilson of Corsock in Galloway who had been executed as a Covenanter rebel in 1666.
This faint trace of an older past is a reminder that the geological boundary marked by the Southern Uplands Fault, which divided the coal and ironstone possessing districts of Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and upper Nithsdale from Galloway and the rest of Dumfriesshire, was for centuries invisible. The religious culture of seventeenth century Covenanters and the rational culture of eighteenth century Improvers were shared across this region. While tracing James Neilson’s legacy as the ‘father’ of modern Scotland through the revolutionising impact of the iron industry’s explosive growth, this book will also show that what was to become the rural south was no less developed than what was to become the industrial north at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Looking beyond Scotland, the influence of economic migrants from Galloway and Dumfriesshire on the industrial revolution in north-west England will also be revealed. Before the age of iron acted as a magnet to draw the economically dispossessed from Ireland, the Highlands and the rural south to west central Scotland, the cotton industry drew an earlier generation to Liverpool and Manchester. In Liverpool, William Ewart from Troqueer (Dumfries) and John Gladstone from Biggar became leading merchants and their sons became politicians. Two of William Ewart’s sons became Members of Parliament and his godson, John Gladstone’s son William Ewart Gladstone, became a prime minister. In Manchester, John Kennedy, James McConnell, Adam and George Murray, all from Galloway, became leading cotton manufacturers.
Both directly and through marriages these exiled Scots also influenced the economic and political development of Scotland and England. James McConnell’s married Margaret Houldsworth. Her brother Henry built the first steam powered cotton mill in Scotland in Glasgow in 1803 and then diversified into the iron industry at Coltness in Lanarkshire in 1836 and Dalmellington in Ayrshire in 1846. John Kennedy and William Ewart’s brother Peter, who had been Boulton and Watt’s agent in Manchester, promoted the Liverpool and Manchester railway. John Kennedy was one of the three judges at the Rainhill Locomotive trial in 1829 which was won by George and Robert Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’. Peter Ewrat’s nephew Joseph became a leading member of the ‘Liverpool Party’ which drove the development of railway forward by investing in (amongst others) the Caledonian railway which linked west central Scotland with north west England. James McConnell’s son Henry became a leading member of the Anti-Corn Law League while John Kennedy’s daughter Rachel married leading Victorian ‘reformer’ Edwin Chadwick.
Friedrich Engels wrote ‘The Condition of the Working lass in England’ in 1844 after spending two years in Manchester. The extreme and widening gulf between the workers in Manchester and the factory owners led Engels to believe that a revolution even more profound than the French Revolution was imminent in England. The condition of the working class in Scotland’s new iron economy was harsher yet. By 1842 when Engels arrived in Manchester, the cotton industry had been growing and expanding for over 60 years. By 1842 in Scotland, the impact of Neilson’s hot-blast was still confined to north Lanarkshire and was still to be felt in Ayrshire.
Most of the new iron works were constructed on green field sites and the towns which grew up around them- Coatbridge, Airdrie, Wishaw- were company towns. The existing small scale coal mines were unable to meet the huge demand for fuel of the iron furnaces, which also had to be supplied with ironstone and limestone. These new mines and quarries were scattered over the countryside and the iron companies had to build shelters for the miners. These ‘raws’ (rows) were built as quickly and as cheaply as possible. As well as shelter for their workers, the iron companies also had to supply food and basic necessities which they did through company owned stores- which the workers were compelled to use. In what had been rural districts, there was no police force to maintain order, so the iron masters had to create new police districts and meet the costs of doing so.
Taken altogether, the iron companies control over the lives of the workers and their families amounted to a form of ‘industrial feudalism’. When ever the workers went on strike, they were immediately evicted from their company owned homes, denied credit at the company owned stores and had their meetings disrupted by company paid for policemen. In addition, the rising tide of Irish emigration provided the iron companies with an alternative source of labour, sowing the seeds of bitter religious conflict between the workers.
What drove the explosive growth of the Scottish iron industry was the reduction in costs brought about by Neilson’s hot-blast. Before 1830, south Wales was the leading producer of pig iron in the UK. Welsh iron was of good quality but sold at around £6 per ton. By allowing raw coal rather than coke to be used and reducing the quantity of coal required from 8 to 3 tons per ton of iron, the cost of Scottish pig iron fell to £3/ton. At the same time, the total control exercised by the Scottish iron masters over their workers allowed them to ’manage’ the cost of labour. For about 20 years, until the even more efficient Cleveland/ north east England iron industry was developed, the cost advantage of Scottish pig iron generated super profits for the iron companies.
Since iron (later steel) shipbuilding and other internal markets for Scottish pig iron were not yet developed, most of the Scottish iron was exported to other parts of the UK and abroad, for example to the USA . However, the focus on producing cheap pig iron was to become a structural weakness as demand for wrought iron and then steel increased. These problems were exacerbated by the exhaustion of Scottish sources of ironstone. Beyond the production of iron, the reliance of Scotland’s shipbuilding, locomotive building, ‘heavy engineering’ and coal mining industries on export markets through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was another structural weakness.
The southernmost outpost of the iron industry was at Dalmellington in Ayrshire. Here the Damellington Iron Works was in operation from 1848 to 1921 as an offshoot of the Coltness Iron Company. Deep coalmining continued until the 1970s and then opencast mining began in the 1990s. Dalmellington is on the edge of the Southern Uplands Fault. In the 1960s and 70s school and family trips to Ayr provided a dramatic contrast between rural south and industrial north. Within sight of Neilson’s monument, the A 713 from Castle Douglas follows the Galloway Dee through dairy farmland to its junction with the river Ken which flows through an ever narrowing valley to Dalry. The road then rises up past a sequence of dams and hydro-electric power stations built in the 1930s towards the tiny village of Carsphairn in the high moors beneath the Rhinns of Kells. After crossing the watershed the road then drops down through a very narrow glen towards Dalmellington. Into the mid-seventies, steam engines were still at work amongst the mines and the road skirted a huge bing (a waste tip, now gone) opposite the former iron works at Waterside. The road then follows a railway line down the Doon valley to Ayr. In the eighteenth century a network of waggonways carried coal to the harbour where it was exported to Ireland. This export of coal continued into the 1970s supplying power stations in Northern Ireland. Pollution from these power stations then drifted back across the North Channel to fall as acid rain on the Galloway hills.
The population of Galloway and Dumfriesshire peaked in 1851 and then began a gradual decline. The most likely reason for the decline after 1851 was the impact of the railways which reached Dumfries in 1850 and Stranraer in the west in 1861. Before the railways, the region supported many small scale industries-local breweries, local brickworks, grain mills and the like. These local industries were unable to compete with large scale producers distributing their commodities through the rail network. The railway connection also saw the decline in coastal shipping which had linked the region’s agriculture with Whitehaven and Liverpool. However, the speeding up of transport offered by the new railways encouraged a shift in the agricultural economy away from cereal and livestock production to dairy farming. It became possible to send fresh milk from the region north into the growing markets of central Scotland.
While it is interesting to explore the diverging histories of the western lowlands south and north of the Southern Uplands Fault, it is important not to lose sight of other, bigger pictures. One of these bigger pictures is the tendency to focus on the ‘big’ divide between Highland and Lowland Scotland. This tendency can lead to the belief that there are two Scotlands, a rural and traditional north and an urban and industrialised south. This popular perception influences politicians and policy makers and leads to an overlooking or neglect of the rural south (Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders).
At a deeper level of understanding and interpretation of history, the nineteenth century divergence between Galloway and Dumfriesshire and Lanarkshire and Ayrshire could be an example of the difference between what Anthony Wrigley calls ‘organic’ and ‘mineral’ economies. According to Wrigley, organic economies are based on renewable and sustainable sources of energy- water and wind power, human and animal labour. Mineral economies substitute coal and oil for renewable and sustainable energy sources. This substitution allowed Britain to become the first region in the world to break free from the limits to growth which all previous organic economies had been subject to. Significantly, eighteenth century and early nineteenth century political economists based their theories on organic economy models, predicting that economic growth would reach its limits in a ‘stationary state’ of minimal or zero growth.
While the development of Dumfries and Galloway, lacking extensive sources of coal, became ‘stationary’ after 1851, the mineral economies of Ayrshire and Lanarkshire continued to grow. The social cost of that growth are obvious, but the ecological costs are only now becoming apparent as the consequences of climate change begin to bite. Although the science of climate change is solid, the need to ‘de-mineralise’ the global economy and actively work towards a stationary state is being resisted. One of questions this book will explore is if the rural south of Scotland is an example of a stationary state and a low-growth future. But if rural south provides an image of the future, where will that leave communities in the urban north which have been blighted by the industrial clearances of the 1980s and 1990s? If there is a duty and necessity to tackle the environmental costs of the mineral economy, the social costs must also be met. But how?
3. Chapter Two -Setting the Scene
This chapter will sketch out the influence of geology and geography on the history of the region up to the eighteenth century. In the pre-industrial period, settlement in the region was influenced by the presence or absence of good quality soils, by communication routes along river valleys and by sea. The settlement patterns and relative wealth of the settlements influenced the pre-modern history of the region, from the Roman period through to the medieval/ feudal era. At the beginning of the twelfth century, the whole region was part of a Gaelic speaking area which historians call ‘Greater Galloway’ and which was not part of Scotland, but as the Bruce, Stewart and Douglas families were granted lands in Dumfriesshire, Renfrewshire and Ayrshire, the Gaelic speaking area contracted to modern Galloway, controlled by the Balliol family and Carrick, controlled by the Bruce family. The struggle for power between these families influenced the wars of Scottish Independence and continued until the Stewarts triumphed over the Douglasses in 1455. The end of Gaelic in Galloway and Carrick was an unintended consequence of this power struggle.
4..Chapter Three- Towards Enlightenment
The Scottish Reformation became strongly established in he region and its influence shaped the political and religious struggles of the seventeenth century. The Covenanters or ‘Westland Whigs’ resisted Charles I, Charles II and James VII from 1638 to 1688. From 1689 to 1746, the region was strongly anti-Jacobite, particularly in 1715 when opponents of Union of 1707 chose to support George I and the Union rather than see a Jacobite restoration. Since Jacobite propaganda exploited the economic failure of the Union, The ‘Honourable Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture’ (founded in 1723) were instrumental in establishing the Board of Trustees for Improvement of Manufactories and Fisheries’ in 1727 as well as promoting agricultural improvements. By developing the linen industry, the Board of Trustees laid the foundations for later industrial development in Scotland. At the same time, through local connections, members of the Society of Improvers experienced the impact of the Galloway Levellers uprising in 1724. This experienced influenced the later process of agricultural improvement in Lowland Scotland so it was more gradual than the Highland Clearances. Great care was taken to ensure that those disposed from the land were offered new accommodation and industrial employment in planned towns and villages across the region. In Dumfries and Galloway alone, 81 new towns and villages were built between 1760 and 1830.
5. Chapter Four- The Age of Improvement
The dramatic philosophical and intellectual advances made by the Scottish Enlightenment were matched on the ground by the physical and economic transformation of the Scottish landscape. Adam Smith was tutor to the 3rd duke of Buccleuch and Smith influenced the duke’s approach to improving his estates in Dumfriesshire and the Borders. In Galloway Lord Kames directed the improvement of one estate and inspired and influenced the improvement of Richard Oswald’s estates in Ayrshire and Galloway. James Steuart, who published a book on political economy nine years before Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’ improved his estate of Coltness in Lanarkshire. Steuart’s son continued to improve Coltness which was admired by English radical William Cobbett in 1832 for its fine crops and excellent herd of dairy cattle. Four years later Coltness was sold to the Houldsworth family who built an iron works there and extracted ironstone and coal from beneath its fertile fields. The significant point to be brought out in this chapter is that the process of agricultural improvement was carried through with equal vigour and success across the whole region.. It will also be noted that neither the political economists of the Scottish Enlightenment nor the improving landowners recognised that iron and coal rather than linen and agriculture would shape Scotland’s future.
6. Chapter Five -Building Tomorrow’s Bridges Today
This chapter will cover the development of the turnpike road system, canals, waggonways and harbours which were part of the process of enlightened improvement. Significantly, although a short section of canal was built in Galloway as early as 1765, further developments which would have linked the coal mines of Dalmellington with Kirkcudbright were never built. Other plans for canals in Dumfriesshire and an ‘iron rail-road’ linking the Sanquhar coal field with Dumfries also failed to materialise. While the network of turnpike roads speed up communications, they were not so useful for the bulk transport of coal. Canals and waggonways (horse-drawn railways) were need to shift coal. The existence of these canals and waggonways was an essential foundation for the rise of the iron industry in Lanarkshire and Ayrshire.
7. Chapter Six-King Cotton
Although the industrial revolution has only an indirect impact on Galloway and Dumfriesshire, the region had a significant influence on the industrialisation of north-west England. As first Whitehaven in the later seventeenth century then Liverpool in the eighteenth century developed as ports, trading links were built up with the small ports along the northern shore of the Solway Firth. The economic opportunities offered by Liverpool attracted merchants from the south of Scotland - the Dunbars, Ewarts, Gladstones and Maxwells- who became well established there. The growth of the textile industry in Lancashire attracted other economic migrants, including William Cannan (or Cannon) from the Glenkens in Galloway. Cannan was a carpenter who moved first to Whithaven then Liverpool and finally Chowbent near Bolton where he specialised in making textile machinery. In the 1780s, Cannan recruited apprentices from Galloway who were then able to use their skills in the rapidly developing Manchester cotton industry. Peter Wrat, who’s brother William was a leading Liverpool merchant and partner of John Gladstone (father of William Ewart Gladstone) was Bolton and Watt’s representative and Manchester and the ‘Galloway’ firms of Kennedy and McConnell and A and G Murray pioneered the successful application of steam power to cotton spinning. John Kennedy, the Ewart brothers and the Maxwell brothers were members of the first Liverpool and Manchester railway committee and John Kennedy acted as a judge at the Rainhill locomotive trials in 1829. Two of William Ewart’s sons became members of Parliament and Joseph Ewart MP along with Liverpool merchant Welwood Maxwell was a member of the ‘Liverpool Party’ which pushed the expansion of the rail network forward through their investments in early railways. Galloway born John Ramsay McCulloch was described by Friedrich Engels’ as ‘the English bourgeois’ favourite political economists’ and was a key member of the Political Economy Club which influenced political support for free trade.
8. Chapter Seven - The Iron Age Begins
Apart from charcoal fired iron furnaces built in the Highlands and the Carron iron works established in 1759, the low carbon content of Scottish coal and lack of local demand for iron held back growth of the Scottish iron industry until 1828. In that year James Beaumont Neilson, manager of the Glasgow Gas Works patented his discovery that heating the air blown into iron furnaces dramatically improved their efficiency and allowed raw Scottish coal to be used instead of coke. However the conservatism of existing iron masters, who believed that cold air produced better quality iron, gave the Baird family, who were new entrants to the industry, an advantage. The Bairds had been tenant farmers in Old Monklands parish in Lanarkshire until Alexander Baird took the lease of a coal pit on Airdrie estate in 1816 which his son William ( the eldest of Alexander’s six sons) was sent to manage. The coal pit was close to the Monklands canal which made it easy to transport the coal to Glasgow. The Bairds then took out leases on other coal pits while continuing to farm. The seasonal demand for domestic coal led the Bairds to look for an outlet for their surplus stocks and so they began building an iron furnace at Gartsherrie in 1828 which began production using Neilson’s hot blast in 1830. The pig iron produced was much cheaper than traditionally produced iron and so the Scottish pig iron industry grew very rapidly but with most of the iron produced exported. The background to the Bairds rivals will also be explored, inclduignthe Houldsworths who provide a connection between the Manchester and Glasgow cotton industries, the iron industry and (via marriages) two of the Galloway cotton families. The Houldsworths bought Coltness estate from James Steaurt’s son to get its coal and ironstone and build their iron works.as rrcated agricultural products from Galloway and Dumfriesshire were exported
9. Chapter Eight - The Impact of the Iron Industry
Significantly, the rapid growth of the iron industry required the equally rapid growth of coal and ironstone mining. Coal mining had been a relatively small scale craft industry but the insatiable demands of the new iron furnaces required a dramatic transformation. Thousands of new workers had to be recruited (many from Ireland) and housed, deeper pits had to be dug and linked to the iron works by a network of railways. Competition for ironstone in Lanarkshire saw the Bairds and Houldsworths extend their activities into Ayrshire in the 1840s, then in the 1850s came competition from the more modern and efficient Cleveland iron industry. The industry also had to adapt to changes in demand as wrought iron and then steel were needed for the expanding shipbuilding and railway construction (bridges and rails) industries. Through the nineteenth century periods of growth were followed by slumps in trade to which the iron masters responded by cutting wages. This led to periods of violent industrial unrest which sometimes required troops to suppress. These struggles left a deep impact on the history of Scottish trade unions, especially the miners’ unions and to deep rooted support for the Labour party. A further factor with long term influence was that by the 1870s it was becoming clear that Scottish reserves of ironstone were becoming exhausted. While iron ore from Cumberland and, more importantly, Spain was used to make up the decline in Scottish ironstone, this made the location of the iron furnaces less economically viable. However the cost of relocating the iron industry to coastal locations more suited to the import of iron ore was a deterrent. It can be argued that the seeds of the twentieth century problems and ultimate decline of the Scottish iron industry were already present by the end of the nineteenth century.
10. Chapter Nine- A Stationary State
In contrast to the drama of developments north of the Southern Uplands Fault, the biggest change to the economy of Galloway and Dumfriesshire in the nineteenth century was the shift to dairy farming in the lowlands and the consolidation of sheep farming in the uplands. The shift to dairy farming was stimulated by the westward expansion of the railway network which reached Dumfries in 1850, Castle Douglas by 1859 and Stranraer by 1861. Stranraer was then linked to Glasgow by rail in 1877. Across the region, farms which had been arable farms since for over 600 years were converted to dairy farms. The coastal shipping links with north-west England declined and communications with central Scotland became easier. For the wealthier, the railways opened up the countryside for hunting, shooting and fishing through the purchase of small estates. Although he had inherited Glenlair near Castle Douglas, James Clerk Maxwell was one of these small estate owners and worked on his revolutionary theories of physics while living there between periods at universities in Cambridge, Aberdeen and London. There were steam powered woollen mills in Langholm and Dumfries, but along with scattered areas of granite quarrying, lead, copper and coal mining nineteenth century Galloway and Dumfriesshire was overwhelmingly rural. The rural character of the region is reflected in the paintings of the ‘Glasgow’ artists who visited or settled in Kirkcudbright in the 1890s.
11. Chapter Ten- The Twentieth Century : North
The twentieth century saw the rapid demise of the Scottish pig iron industry. Its rapid growth had been based on the ability to use local ironstone and coal to produce cheap pig iron. The exhaustion of ironstone reserves was just one of several factors which brought about its decline. The pig iron producers had failed to integrate their plants with the production of wrought iron. When wrought iron gave way to steel after 1879, the high phosphor content of Scottish ironstone made it unsuitable for steel production. While there was a strong demand for steel from the Scottish shipbuilding industry, the development of the Scottish steel industry was led by producers of wrought iron and relied on a combination of imported iron ore and recycled scrap iron. More generally, the Scottish coal and heavy engineering industries developed in the nineteenth century relied on export markets built up through a combination of pioneering technological advantage and the expansion of the British Empire. As other regions of the UK and other countries (including former colonies) caught up with Scotland, the problems first faced by the pig iron industry were repeated across a whole range of once successful industries. Attempts to cut labour costs led to recurring strikes and industrial unrest. The problem of industrial decline persuaded the Labour party that action at UK state level was needed and the belief that Scottish Home Rule was a distraction from Scotland’s underlying economic problems. However, nationalisation and a range of state -led economic initiatives were unable to overcome the structural weaknesses of the Scottish economy. In the 1950s both the National Coal Board and British Railways invested heavily in modernisation projects which failed to recognise ‘modern’ developments- the decline in demand for coal and the shift towards road transport. By the 1960s, the wave of ‘industrial clearances’ which culminated in the 1980s and early 90s had already begun as the rail network was drastically pruned and coal mines were closed.
12. Chapter Eleven- The Twentieth Century: South
The decline in Galloway and Dumfriesshire’s population which began in 1851 continued through most of the twentieth century. Dumfries, where woollen mills had been established in the 1860s, gained population and gained new industries- motor manufacturing briefly, then rubber and plastics - in the twentieth century. For the duration of the First World war, a huge munitions manufacturing site was developed between Gretna and Annan. During the Second World War munitions factories were again developed, but dispersed across the region. The region’s second largest town was Stranraer which grew as a ferry port. The coal mines at Cannonbie closed in the 1920s and those around Sanqhar in the 1960s. Lead production at Wanlockhead increased during the First World War but then failed after the war. The Galloway Hydro Electric project was built between 1930 and 1936 in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright but provided little economic benefit to the district. The 1930s also saw a brief flirtation with fascism when the British Union of fascists had 400 members in Galloway and 150 in Dumfriesshire- out of 1000 members in the whole of Scotland. While the creation of the Milk Marketing Board in 1933 sustained dairy farming across the region, after the Second World War, forestry replaced sheep farming in the Galloway uplands. Under the Dr. Beeching’s plan in 1963, the railway lines from Dumfries and Ayr to Stranraer were to be closed, but pressure from Northern Ireland kept the Ayr-Stranraer line open, but the Dumfries-Stranraer line along with the branches to Whithorn and Kirkcudbright closed in 1965. By the end often century, apart from the rubber and plastic factories in Dumfries, the regional economy was based on farming, food-processing, forestry and tourism. Although the regional population had almost returned to 1851 levels, the attraction of the region as a place to retire to combined with the loss of younger people was a cause for concern.
13. Chapter Twelve -Entering the Twenty-first century.
The aim of this chapter will be to reflect on the diverging histories of the north and south of the western Lowlands and wonder if we can learn anything from the histories. Although the pace of change speeded up in the late eighteenth century, the region in 1450 was very different from the region of 1150. Gaelic, which had been the main language in 1150 was virtually extinct by 1450 and what had been ‘Greater Galloway’ was now firmly part of Scotland and Scots was the language of the people.. Over the next 300 years, the feudal structures introduced by David I through grants of land to soldiers and monks disappeared completely. The power of landowners was measured by the rents they could charge not by the number of troops they could muster. The Church had been reformed and lost its lands. By 2050, what features of the recent past will remain and how will climate change be affecting the region?
A related question concerns our ability to plan and manage change. The Scottish Enlightenment was part of the ‘Age of Reason’ when the existing practices of farmers and manufacturers were improved by the application of rationality to traditional knowledge. While the improvement of agriculture followed an expected or predictable trajectory, steadily increasing crop yields and the quality of livestock, the improvement of manufacturing, led to an unexpected industrial revolution. Significantly, this revolution offered the prospect of much larger and more ‘instant’ profits than those offered by agriculture. This led to the triumph of ‘short-term rationality’ over the long view of gradual improvement. The rise and fall of the Scottish iron industry is a large scale example of this problem. On the smaller scale, the obsession of the Portpatrick Railway with creating the shortest route through Galloway at the expense of the company’s longer term profitability is another. In the twentieth century, the ultimate failure of the Ravenscraig steel works in 1992 was already anticipated by the failure to adopt the recommendations of the 1929 Brassert report which recommended constructing a new, fully integrated, steelworks on the Clyde near the Erskine ferry.
The problem of short term economic rationality is our inheritance from the industrial revolution. This conflicts with the immediately preceding rationality of the Scottish Enlightenment and its long term rationality rooted in the concept of ‘improvement’. However, a deeper conflict, one which is only now becoming apparent, is the conflict or tension between economy and ecology. Both words share a Greek root ‘oikos’ meaning house, household, family. In ecology, the household or family is the natural or living world and ecology is the study of the ‘household of nature or the economy of living organisms’. Economy involves the management of one of these households, the human one. Since the 1650s when the term ‘political economy’ was first used, the basic unit of economics has been the national economy. The implications of climate change now mean that ecology and economy are converging. The whole planet is now our household and its management is now our responsibility.
The iron and most of the coal are gone, but there is still oil beneath the North Sea. The oil is being exploited just as rapidly as the iron and coal were, even though science and history tell us it should be conserved.
Was it inevitable that Lanarkshire and Ayrshire’s ironstone reserves would be exploited? Not necessarily. Neilson‘s hot-blast was an accidental discovery and was resisted by most of the existing iron companies. The existing Scottish iron industry was producing enough pig iron to meet the then limited local demand for iron. Although Scottish iron was expensive and of low quality, it was protected from Welsh and English competition by poor transport links. So if there had been a delay in the take up of Neilson’s discovery until Scotland was linked by rail to England and Wales, cheaper English and Welsh iron would have put the Scottish iron works out of business. Without a dynamic Scottish iron industry, the development of iron and then steel shipbuilding on the Clyde would have been more difficult. At the same time, without the need to supply huge quantities of coal to the iron works, the need to rapidly modernise and expand the Scottish coal industry would have been absent. Finally, without a dynamic Victorian iron and coal industry, the growth of population in the western Lowlands would have been much less. Lanarkshire and Ayrshire today would be more like Galloway and Dumfriesshire and Scotland would be a very different country.
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