county dunse miles crops castle acres feet
BERWICKSHIRE, a maritime county of Scotland, forming its S.E. extremity, bounded N.E. by the German Ocean, N. by Iladdington, W. by Midlothian, S.W. by Roxburgh, S. by the Tweed, which separates it from Northumberland, and S.E. by the liberties of the town of Berwick. Its greatest length from E. to W. is 31i miles ; its greatest breadth 191 ; area about 464 square miles, or 297,161 acres. It is naturally divided into three districts, Lauderdale, or the valley of the Leader, in the W. ; Lantmermuir, the upland district occupied by the hills of that name, in the N.; and the Aferse (probably a corruption of " March" or borderland), the largest district, occupying the S.E. of the county. The Lammermuirs are a range of round backed hills, whose average height is about 1000 feet, while the highest summit, Sayrs Law, reaches 1753 feet. From these hills the Merse stretches to the S. and E., and is a comparatively level tract of country, traversed, however, from N.W. to S.E. by distinct parallel ridges. The coast line is lofty, rocky, and precipitous, broken by ravines, and not accessible, except at Eyemouth harbour, for small vessels, and at one or two other places for fishing-boats. St Abb's Head, a peninsular promontory with a lighthouse upon it, rises to nearly 300 feet. The Eye is the only river of the county which falls into the sea. The others - thee Leader, the Eden, the Leet, and the Whiteadder with its tributaries, the Blackadder and the Dye - all flow into the Tweed. Of these the largest and most important is the Whiteadder, which has its source on the East-Lothian side of the Lammermuirs, and, following a sinuous course of 35 miles, falls into the Tweed within the " Bounds " of Berwick. The climate of Berwickshire is chiefly influenced by its maritime position. The winter is seldom severe in the lowland districts ; but spring is generally a trying season on account of the east winds, which often continue into summer. Drainage has remedied the former excessive humidity, and the climate is now excellent, in relation both to the health of the inhabitants and to the growth of vegetation.
Berwickshire, geologically, consists of Silurian rocks in the hilly region, Devonian or Old Red Sandstone in the southwest, and carboniferous limestone in the Merse. Large masses of porphyritic and trap rock occasionally occur, of which St Abb's Head is an example. The sea-cliff to the north-west of the mouth of the Eye is formed of conglomerate or pudding-stone. There is an interesting and somewhat famous geological appearance at a point called Siccar, near Cockburnspath, where the sea has laid open very plainly the junction of the primary and secondary strata.
The soils of Berwickshire are extremely various. On the same farm a great diversity may be found. Along the rivers is a deep rich loam, resting on gravel or clay, chiefly the former. The less valuable clay soil of the Merse has been much improved by the effective system of drainage which is everywhere carried out. The more sandy and gravelly soils are suitable for the turnip crops, which are a marked agricultural feature of the county. To these soils the landlords and tenants of Berwickshire have applied themselves with such intelligence, mutual good-will, liberality, and spirit, that the county now stands in the first rank in regard to agriculture. The farms are large, and are commonly held by a nineteen years' lease. Nowhere is farming conducted more scientifically or with better success. According to the agricultural returns for 1874, the total acreage under all kinds of crops, bare fallow, and grass, was 192,138, or more than three-fifths of the entire area. Of this, 63,526 acres were under corn crops, 34,155 under green crops, 56,940 under clover and grasses, and 36,858 permanent pasture, meadow, or grass not broken up in rotation (exclusive of heath or mountain land). The average extent of land occupied by each occupant was 194 acres. Wheat was grown on 6373 acres ; barley or bore, on 21,469; oats, on 33,130; potatoes, on 2593; turnips and swedes, on 30,345. Of live stock there were 5356 horses, 16,979 cattle, 285,578 sheep, 4527 pigs. Though about the twentieth in size of the Scottish counties, Berwickshire stands fifth in the number of acres under corn crops, fifth also in green crops, and ninth in the number of sheep. The farm-buildings are convenient and well built. These include cottages for the farm-labourers, or binds, and their families, - the ordinary staff consisting of a steward, a shepherd, and a number of ploughmen proportionate to the size of the farm. The farm-labourers, who are physically well developed, are as a whole a frugal, industrious, intelligent race. They are somewhat migratory in their habits, being too ready to move from place to place year after year. This feature in their character, which they may have by inheritance as Borderers, has admirably fitted them for colonial life, to which the lack of employment in mining or manufactures in the county has largely drawn the surplus population.
The minerals of Berwickshire are insignificant. Coal, copper ore, and ironstone exist in such small quantities that attempts to work them have been abandoned ; and the limestone is at too great a distance from a coal district to warrant competition with the adjoining counties. The Tweedsalmon fisheries are productive of an important trade, and are so subject to vicissitudes that much attention has been paid to them by means of legislative enactments. The lesser rivers of the Merse are held in high esteem by anglers. Besides Eyemouth there are three villages - Burnmouth, Coldingham Shore, and Cove - engaged in the sea-fisheries, which are of considerable and increasing value. Cod, haddock, herring, ling, lobsters, and crabs are the principal produce. Berwickshire cannot boast of many manufactures. Earlstoun sends out ginghams and woollen cloths. At Cumledge, also, on the Whiteadder, there is a factory for. heavy woollen cloths ; and four miles further down the river, at Chirnside Bridge, is one of the largest paper mills in Scotland. The other manufactures are all connected with agriculture, such as distilleries, breweries, tanneries, &c. The trade is also mainly agricultural. Fairs are held at Dunse, Lauder, Coldstream, Greenlaw, and Oldhamstocks ; but the sales of cattle and sheep are now mostly accomplished at the weekly or fortnightly auction marts at Reston, Dunse, and Earlstoun. The grain markets are held at Dunse and Earlstoun. Berwick, from which the county derives its name, is still its chief market-town. There is, however, no legal or fiscal connection between the county and the borough.
The early history of Berwickshire is to a great extent bound up with that of the ancient frontier town ; from its position it also suffered much during the Border wars. The most noteworthy antiquities are Coldingham Priory in the E. and Dryburgh Abbey in the S.W. They were burnt in the same year, 1545, during the barbarous inroad of the English army under the earl of Hereford. About four miles N. from Coldingham are the ruins of Fast Castle (" The Wolf's Crag" of the Bride of Lammermoor), situated on a peninsular cliff, 120 feet by 60, and 70 feet above the sea. A little further north is the Pease or Peaths Bridge, built by Telford, in 1786, over the deep glen which forms the celebrated pass - of old one of the strongest natural defences of Scotland. Near it is Cockburnspath Tower, once a strong fortress, now in ruins. In the west of Berwickshire, besides Dryburgh, there are, at Earlstoun, the remains of the ancient tower "The Rhymer's Castle," the traditional residence of Thomas Learmont, commonly called Thomas of Ercildoune or Thomas the Rhymer. About a mile from Earlstoun is Cowdenknowcs, on a hill above which grew the "bonnie broom" of the old song. None of it now remains, it having been gradually encroached upon by the plough, and the last of it killed by the severe frost of 1861-62. Hume Castle, the ancient seat of the Home family, also towards the west, has a most commanding view, and is itself visible from nearly every part of the county. Traces of Roman occupation and of ancient British settlements exist in various parts of the Merse. Edin's or Etin's Hall, on Cockburn Law, about four miles north of Dunse, still goes under the name of the Pech's or Pict's House. There are many large mansions throughout the county, the principal being Thirlestane Castle (earl of Lauderdale), Mertoun House (Lord Polwarth), Mellerstain and Lennel House (earl of Haddington), Nesbit (Lord Sinclair), Dunse Castle (Hay), Wedderburn and Paxton (Milne Home), Lees (Sir John Marjoribanks), Ladykirk (Baroness Marjoribanks), Ayton Castle (Mitchell Innes), Hirsel (earl of Home). The chief towns are Greenlaw, the county town, with a population of 823; Dunse, 2618; Lauder, 1046, a royal burgh, which unites with the Haddington group of burghs in returning a member to parliament ; Coldstream, 1724; and Eye-mouth, 2324, the only seaport of the county. There is one sheriff for the three border counties of Berwick, Roxburgh, and Selkirk, and a sheriff-substitute holds his court in Dunse. Justice of the Peace courts are held at Coldstream and at Ayton, and a burgh court at Lauder. The county is divided into thirty-one parishes, and it returns one member to parliament. Population of Berwickshire, 36,486 - males, 17,414 ; females, 19,072.
The fauna and flora of Berwickshire have been carefully described by the late Dr George Johnston, and further information may be obtained regarding these from the Transactions of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club. -