From Classic Encyclopedia 1911
SELKIRKSHIRE, a southern county of Scotland, bounded N. by the shires of Peebles and Midlothian, E. and S.E. by Roxburghshire, S. and S.W. by Dumfriesshire and W. by Peeblesshire. Its area is 170,762 acres or 266.8 sq. m. Almost the whole of the surface is hilly, the only low-lying ground occurring in the valleys of the larger streams. The highest hills are found in the extreme west and south-west. On the confines of Peeblesshire the chief heights are Dun Rig (2433 ft.), Black Law (2285), Broad Law (2723) and Lochcraig Head (2625); and on the Dumfriesshire borders, Bodesbeck Law (2173), Capel Fell (2223), Wind Fell (2180) and Ettrick Pen (2269). In the north, close to the Midlothian boundary, is Windlestraw Law (2161). The principal rivers are the Ettrick (32 m.) and its left-hand affluent the Yarrow (14 m.), but for a few miles the Tweed traverses the north of the county. Gala Water (21 m.), though it joins the Tweed a little below Galashiels, belongs rather to Midlothian, since it rises in the Moorfoot Hills and for most of its course flows in that shire. St Mary's Loch and its adjunct, the Loch of the Lornes, in the uplands, are the chief lakes, and of numerous small lakes in the south-east the two lochs of Shaws, Clearburn, Akermoor and Essenside may be mentioned. The vales of the Tweed and Yarrow and Ettrickdale are the principal. valleys.
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This county is entirely occupied by Silurian and Ordovician rocks which are very much folded and crumpled; the axes of the folds run in a south-westerly, north-easterly direction. The Ordovician rocks, represented by the Glenkiln and Hartfell shales, appear in the crests of the anticlinal folds; in the western part of the county they are frequently sandy in character. Above the black Ordovician shales come the Birkhill graptolitic shales followed by the Queensberry grits, a series of greywackes, grits, flags and shales, which pass upwards into the Hawick rocks, shales with brownweathering greywackes. Some of the Queensberry grits and underlying greywackes in the Ordovician are used as building stones. Igneous rocks are represented by the Tertiary basalt dikes of Bowerhope Law and dikes of quartz-felsite near Windlestraw Law and Caddon Water; dikes of minette occur near Todrig. A great deal of boulder-clay covers the older rocks; the ice-borne material travelled from west to east, and many of the hills show steep and bare slopes towards the west, but have gentle slopes covered with glacial deposits on the eastern side.
Climate and Agriculture
The rainfall for the year, based on observations at Bowhill, between the confluence of the Yarrow and Ettrick, at a height of 537 ft. above the sea, averages 33.65 in. The mean temperature for the year, calculated at Galashiels (416 ft. above the sea), is 46.3° F., for January 36.2° F., and for July 58.2° F. The climate is thus cold and wet on the whole, and as the soil is mostly thin, over a subsoil of clayey till, agriculture is carried on at a disadvantage. About one-sixth of the surface is under cultivation, oats being almost the only grain crop and turnips the chief green crop. Live stock is pursued more profitably, the sheep walks carrying heavy stocks. Blackfaced are the principal breed on the higher ground, but on the lower pure Cheviots and a cross of Cheviot with Leicester are common. Cattle also are raised, and horses (mainly for agricultural operations) and pigs to only a moderate extent. There are comparatively few small holdings, farms between 100 and 300 acres being the most usual. More than one-third of the county (upwards of 60,000 acres) belongs to the duke of Buccleuch. The land between the Ettrick and the Tweed was formerly covered with forest to such an extent that the sheriffdom was described as Ettrick Forest. The chief trees were oak, birch and hazel; and the wood being well stocked with the finest breed of red deer in the kingdom became the hunting-ground of the Stuarts. James V., however, to increase his revenues, let the domain for grazing, and it was soon converted into pasture for sheep, with the result that now only about 5000 acres in the shire are under wood.
Manufactures and Communications
Woollen manufactures (tweeds, tartans, plaiding, yarn and hosiery) are the predominant industry at Galashiels and Selkirk. Tanning, dyeing, engineering, iron-founding and bootmaking also are carried on at Galashiels, and there are large vineries at Clovenfords.
The only railway communication is in the north, where there is a branch line from Galashiels to Selkirk, besides part of the track of the Waverley route from Edinburgh to the south and the line from Galashiels to Peebles. There are coaches from Selkirk to St Mary's Loch and periodically to Moffat.
Population and Administration
In 1891 the population numbered 27,712, and in 1901 it was 23,356, or 88 to the sq. m., a decrease of 15.78%, much the largest for the decade in Scotland. Fifty-seven persons spoke Gaelic and English, none Gaelic only. The chief towns are Galashiels (pop. 13,615) and Selkirk (6292). Selkirkshire combines with Peeblesshire to return a member to Parliament, and the county town and royal burgh of Selkirk and the municipal burgh of Galashiels united with Hawick (in Roxburghshire) to constitute the Border or Hawick group of parliamentary burghs. The shires of Selkirk, Roxburgh and Berwick form a sheriffdom, and a resident sheriff-substitute sits at Selkirk and Galashiels. There is a combination poorhouse at Galashiels. The county is under school board jurisdiction, and there are high schools at Selkirk and Galashiels, while some of the other schools in the shire earn grants for higher education. Part of the "residue" grant is spent in supporting short courses of instruction in dairying, and Selkirk town council subsidizes popular science classes in the burgh school.
History and Antiquities
There are no Roman remains in Selkirkshire, the natives probably being held in check from the station at Newstead near the Eildons. The Standing Stone near Yarrow church bearing a Latin inscription is ascribed to the 5th or 6th century and is only a quasi-Roman relic. No socalled British camps have been found on the upper and middle waters of the Ettrick and Yarrow, and of the few situated in the lower valleys of these streams the most important is the large work on Rink Hill in the parish of Galashiels, the district containing various interesting prehistoric remains. At Torwoodlee, 2 m. north-west of Galashiels, are the ruins of the only example of a broch (round tower) in the Border counties. The diameter of the structure measures 75 ft., and that of the enclosed court 40 ft., giving a. thickness for the wall of 17-1ft. The broch stands in an enclosure of mounds and a ditch, the whole being protected by an outer entrenchment at a considerable distance, of which only a fragment survives. Locally the works are called Torwoodlee Rings, or Eye Castle. The barrier known as the Catrail, or Picts' Work, starts near Torwoodlee, whence it runs southwards to Rink Hill. There it sweeps round to the southwest as far as Yarrow church, from which it again takes a due south direction to the valley of the Rankle, where it passes into Roxburghshire. Some Arthurian romance touches the shire at points, for the field of the battle of Coit Celidon (the Wood of Celidon) was probably in Ettrick Forest, and that of Guinnion in the vale of Gala. The history of the shire for six centuries following the retreat of the Romans is that of the whole of southeastern Scotland. The country formed part, first, of the British kingdom of Strathclyde, then of the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, and finally, about 1020, was annexed to Scotland. The first sheriff of whom there is record was Andrew de Synton, appointed by William the Lion (d. 1214). After Edward I. had overrun Scotland substantial burgesses of Selkirk were among those who took the oath of allegiance to him at Berwick in 1296, but next year William Wallace sought the covert of the forest to organize resistance. To the north of Hangingshaw in the country between the Yarrow and Tweed he constructed an earthwork, still called Wallace's Trench, 1000 ft. long and deep enough to conceal a moss horse and his rider, and paved in part with flat whinstones laid on edge. At the higher end on the top of a hill it terminated in a large square enclosure. Here he lay till his plans were completed and at last departed, his forces including a body of Selkirk archers, for a raid into the north of England. During the prolonged strife that followed the death of Robert Bruce (1329) the foresters were constantly fighting, and the county suffered more heavily at Flodden (1513) than any other district. The lawlessness of the Borderers was at length put down by James V. with a strong hand. He parcelled out the forest in districts, and to each appointed a keeper to enforce order and protect property. In 1529 the ringleaders, including William Cockburn of Henderland, Adam Scott of Tushielaw and the notorious Johnnie Armstrong, were arrested and promptly executed. This severity gradually had the desired effect, though after the union of the crowns in 1603 the freebooters and mosstroopers again threatened to be troublesome, until James VI.'s lieutenants ruthlessly stamped out disaffection. The Covenanters held many conventicles in the uplands, and their general, David Leslie, routed the marquis of Montrose at Philiphaugh in 1645.
The manufacture of woollen goods was introduced into Selkirk and Galashiels and attained great success, thus adding largely to the prosperity of the neighbourhood. In another direction the beauty and romance of Yarrow and Ettrick have proved a most stimulating force in modern Scottish literature.
Bibliography.-Sir George Douglas, Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Edinburgh, 1899); T. Craig-Brown, History of Selkirkshire; George Reaveley, History of Galashiels (Galashiels, 1875); William Angus, Ettrick and Yarrow (Selkirk, 1894); W. S. Crockett, The Scott Country (Edinburgh, 1902); In Praise of Tweed (Selkirk, 1899); J. Russell, Reminiscences of Yarrow (2nd ed., Selkirk, 1894).