A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1846.
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STRONFERNAN, a village, in the parish of Kenmore, county of Perth, 10 miles (S. W.) from Aberfeldy; containing 178 inhabitants. It is pleasantly situated on the north bank of the Tay, about a mile distant from the church of Fortingal; and is one of the only three places in the parish, and the largest, entitled to the name of village: the other villages are Kenmore, and Acharn. The population is chiefly agricultural.
Stronsay and Eday
STRONSAY and EDAY, two ancient parishes, in the county of Orkney, the one 14 miles (N. E. by E.) and the other 15 miles (N. N. E.) from Kirkwall; containing 2279 inhabitants, of whom 1268 are in Stronsay, and 1011 in Eday. These parishes, which have been united from a very remote period, are named after two of the Orkney Islands, one of which is supposed to have derived its appellation from the rapidity of the tides that sweep along its coasts, and the other from the heathy aspect of its surface. The island of Stronsay, which is situated to the south-east of the Northern Orkneys, is bounded on the east by the German Ocean; on the west by Stronsay Frith, which separates it from the island of Shapinshay; and on the north by the sound of Sanda, which divides it from the island of that name. It is about seven miles in length and five and a half in extreme breadth, and of very irregular form, its coast being indented with spacious and long bays, which almost subdivide it into three separate islands. These three several portions were anciently distinct parishes. The island of Eday, nearly in the centre of the Northern Isles, is bounded on the south-east by Eday sound, which separates it from the island of Stronsay; and is about seven miles and a half in length, and three miles in average breadth.
The coast of Stronsay is marked by numerous headlands and promontories, of which Linksness and Huipness to the north, Griceness, Odness, and Burrowhead, to the east, and Lambhead, Torness, and Rousholmhead, to the south, are the principal. Of these, Burrowhead and Rousholmhead are lofty and precipitous, and the others comparatively low. The headlands of Eday are, Veness to the south-east, Warness to the south-west, Fersness to the west, and Redhead to the north, the last a boldly projecting rock of red granite. The chief bays in Stronsay are, Mill bay on the east side, the bay of Erigarth on the west, and Hollands bay on the south, each of which has a sandy beach about a mile in length: here are also two excellent harbours, each of which has two entrances, viz. Linga sound on the west, and Papa sound on the north-east. There are likewise several bays in Eday, affording occasional shelter for vessels; and two fine harbours, Fersness on the west, and Calf sound on the north, each of which has two entrances. Numerous smaller islands are connected with the two principal islands. Those belonging to Stronsay are Papa-Stronsay and Lingholm, with the holms of Huip near the northern shore, and Auskerry about three miles to the south. Connected with Eday are, the isle of Pharay, the holm of Pharay on the west, the small holm between it and Redhead, and the Calf island on the north-east, which last protects the harbour of Calf sound.
The surface is of very moderate elevation both in Stronsay and Eday, with the exception of an elevated ridge which extends through the centre of both, in a direction from north to south, and rising in the latter to the greater height. There are several fresh-water lakes; one in Stronsay is nearly of circular form, and about a mile in diameter. The whole number of acres is estimated at 16,000, of which 8960 are in Stronsay and 7040 in Eday. Of the former area about one-third is arable, one-third pasture and meadow, and the remainder undivided common, generally heath; of the land in Eday, about 1000 acres are arable, 720 pasture and meadow, and the rest heath. The soil is various, consisting of clay, sand, gravel, loam, and moss, which last is very prevalent in Eday; marl is occasionally found in Stronsay, and has been used successfully as manure. The chief crops are oats and bear, grown alternately, and for which the great quantity of seaweed prepares the land; potatoes, peas, and turnips are also raised in considerable quantities, as well as different artificial grasses. On the lands belonging to Mr. Laing, of Papdale, barley has been cultivated with success; and under the auspices of that gentleman, considerable progress has been made in the reclamation of waste lands. The greater number of the horses and cattle are of the small Orkney breed, but several of a superior kind have been introduced from Angus-shire and the southern counties; and the sheep, of which the prevailing breed is naturally small, have been considerably improved by a cross with the Cheviot and Merino, introduced by Mr. Laing, and which thrive well. The farm buildings and offices are progressively improving; inclosures have taken place on several of the farms, and the system of husbandry generally is advancing. The lands of Eday, being chiefly moss, afford great abundance of excellent fuel, of which considerable quantities are sent to the adjacent islands.
The village of Papa-Sound was built by Mr. Laing, for the accommodation of the numerous fishermen that reside in this part; it contains about 200 inhabitants, who, since the decrease of the kelp manufacture, have paid more attention to the fisheries, for which the convenient and spacious harbours of these islands present the most extensive accommodation. The fish principally taken here are, cod, lobsters, and herrings, with the young of the coal-fish, which last afford an abundant supply of nutritious food for nearly threequarters of the year. The cod-fishery employs fifty boats, and about 200 tons of cod are annually cured for exportation. The lobster-fishery commences in April, and continues till the end of June; it is conducted in boats having two men each, and the fish when caught are preserved in floating chests, and sent weekly during the season to the London markets by smacks which call here for the purpose. The herringfishery commences in July, and is continued for six or eight weeks: the number of Orkney vessels assembled here during that time is seldom less than 400, managed by four or five men each; and in general, during the season, from fifteen to twenty-five sloops and brigs from the south-west of Scotland anchor in the harbour of Papa sound. A convenient pier has been erected for the loading of the fish, in curing which several hundreds of females are employed: on the average about 20,000 barrels of herrings are cured annually. Shoals of small whales are occasionally seen off the coast, and are driven on shore by the boats; one of these shoals, containing 300 whales, was driven ashore on the western side of Eday, and the proceeds amounted to nearly £400.
The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of North Isles and synod of Orkney; patron, the Earl of Zetland. The minister's stipend is £210, including £10 for communion elements; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £14.10. per annum. There are two churches; the church at Stronsay, erected in 1821, is a neat structure containing 500 sittings, and that of Eday, erected in 1816, contains 300. Divine service was formerly performed at each, on fixed Sabbaths, by the minister of the parish, who resides at Stronsay; but in 1834 a missionary was appointed by the General Assembly, with a stipend of £50, to officiate at Eday, where he has a manse, erected by subscription. There are also places of worship for members of the United Secession at Stronsay and Eday, and at the former a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. The parochial school, at Stronsay, and a school supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, are both well attended: the master of the former has a salary of £25. 13. 3., with a house and garden, and school fees averaging £5; and the master of the latter, a salary of £15, with fees amounting to £1. 10. There is also a school at Eday supported by the General Assembly, who pay a salary of £25 to the master, whose fees average about £5 per annum. Remains exist of several ancient chapels, and likewise numerous graves, of which one, at Housebay, in Stronsay, contains a number of bodies separated from each other at the head and feet by thin stones, placed edgewise, and at the head supporting a slab which covers the face only. In the north of Eday is a large upright stone, seventeen feet in height above the ground; and there are several Picts' houses scattered through both districts, one of which, of greater dimensions than the others, is situated at the peninsula of Lambhead, to the south-east of Stronsay. It contains several apartments; and below it are the remains of an ancient pier of loose stones, in a state of dilapidation, about ninety feet broad and nearly 800 feet in length.
STRONTIAN, a quoad sacra parish, in the parish of Ardnamurchan, district and county of Argyll, 23½ miles (S. W. by W.) from Fort-William; containing 982 inhabitants. This place, which is situated on the northern shore of Loch Sunart, derived its earliest importance from the discovery of some valuable-lead-mines, in 1722, by Sir Andrew Murray, who let them on lease to the York Buildings Company. Though it is probable that these mines had been wrought at a much earlier period, yet it was not till after they had been leased to the company that any effectual means were adopted for bringing them into profitable operation. An English mining establishment was soon afterwards formed here, in which 500 men were regularly employed; appropriate buildings, with the requisite machinery for working the mines to advantage, were erected, and subsequently, a village called New York for the accommodation of the miners. These mines continued in extensive operation, yielding an ample revenue, both to the York Buildings' Company and their lessees, till about the year 1818, when they began to decline; and though they are still wrought to a limited extent, every vestige of the village of New York has been obliterated by the plough. Traces of lead-ore are found in many parts of Sunart, yet no other mines than those of Strontian have been opened. There are two principal veins of ore connected with these works, one of which, although difficult to work, contains a large proportion of silver, and produces lead of excellent quality; the other is traversed with dykes of whin and blue stone or calc spar in which galena is plentifully imbedded. A new mineral, called "Strontiles" from this place, where it was first discovered, occurs in abundance. It is a kind of earth, of a whitish or light green colour, with a small degree of transparency, and possessing properties between those of lime and barytes; it was analysed by Dr. Kirwan, and Dr. Hope of Edinburgh, and found to contain 61·21 parts of pure earth, 30·20 parts of carbonic acid gas, and 8·59 parts of water.
The parish occupies the eastern, and larger, portion of the district of Sunart, comprising parts of the parishes of Ardnamurchan and Morvern, from which, for ecclesiastical purposes, Strontian was separated by the presbytery, on the erection of a church in 1827: a quoad sacra parish was formed by act of the General Assembly in 1833. It is nearly twenty-five miles in extreme length, and varies greatly in breadth, containing 49,148 acres, of which 1380 are arable, 5558 meadow and pasture, 1583 woodland and plantations, and the remainder moorland, moss, and waste. The surface, like that of the rest of the parish of Ardnamurchan, is diversified with hills of moderate height; and in this district are also some mountains of considerable elevation, particularly noticed in the article on Ardnamurchan, and the beautiful and fertile valley of Strontian, in which most of the inhabitants reside. Near the eastern extremity of Loch Sunart, which is navigable to its head, is the harbour of Strontian, possessing good anchorage for the vessels arriving with supplies for the use of the district, and returning with the produce of the mines: till lately, a steamer plied regularly, affording direct communication with Glasgow. The herring-fishery is carried on in Loch Sunart, in some years with great success; furnishing ample remuneration to such of the inhabitants of this place as occasionally embark in it. The soil of the arable lands is fertile, and under good cultivation; the hills supply pasturage for sheep, generally of the black-faced kind, and the moorlands for black-cattle, of the Argyllshire breed, of which latter great numbers are reared, and sent to the Glasgow market. There are considerable remains of natural wood, consisting of oak, birch, ash, alder, and hazel, which are indigenous; and the plantations, which are extensive and regularly thinned, are chiefly plane, ash, and oak, with the various kinds of fir. Strontian House, the seat of Sir James Milles Riddell, Bart., is a handsome modern mansion, pleasantly situated in grounds tastefully laid out, and embellished with thriving plantations. The village consists of some irregular clusters of neat houses, interspersed with cottages occupied by persons employed in the lead-mines; the post-office has a daily delivery, and there is a good inn. Fairs for sheep and black-cattle are held on the Thursdays before the last Wednesdays in May and October; and facility of communication is afforded by the turnpike-road leading from the village to Corran Ferry, which is a continuation of the parliamentary road from Kinloch-Moidart. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Mull and synod of Argyll: the minister's stipend is £120, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £5 per annum; patron, the Crown. The church, erected by government in 1827, is a neat substantial structure, situated in the vale of Strontian, and containing 650 sittings. The school for this district is supported by government, who allow the master a salary of £30, in addition to the fees: connected with the school is a small library.
STUARTFIELD, or Crichie, a village, in the parish of Old Deer, district of Buchan, county of Aberdeen, 3 miles (S. W.) from Mintlaw; containing 614 inhabitants. This is a modern, and now populous, village, situated on the high road from Ellon to Fetterangus, and built on the estate of Mr. Burnett, of Denns, who, in 1783, established a bleachfield here for the encouragement of the linen and yarn manufactures of the neighbourhood. Since that time, the village has gradually increased in extent and population. A number of the inhabitants, both male and female, are at present employed in weaving linen-yarn of different degrees of fineness, for the Aberdeen houses; and various others are engaged in other branches of manufacture connected with the district. A place of worship for members of the United Secession was built in 1822, at a cost, including a dwelling-house for the minister, of about £636; it affords accommodation to 440 persons. There is also a small school.
STUARTOWN, a village, in the parish of Pettie, Mainland district of the county of Inverness, 6 miles (W.) from Nairn; containing 204 inhabitants. This village forms part of the village of Campbelton, of which it may be regarded as a kind of suburb, and of which the larger portion is in the parish of Ardersier. It is situated near the eastern shore of the Moray Frith, and is built on the lands in this parish belonging to the Earl of Moray, from whom it derives its name. The inhabitants are principally engaged in the fishery, which is carried on with great success off this part of the coast, producing an abundant supply of whitings, haddocks, cod, skate, flounders, and soles, for the market of Inverness. During the season, which commences usually about the middle of July, and continues till the early part of September, many of the people embark in the herring-fisheries of Helmsdale, Wick, and Burgh-Head. There are two good inns in the village; and several of the inhabitants exercise various handicraft trades connected with the fisheries, and others requisite for the wants of the immediate neighbourhood.
SUMMER ISLES, in the parish of Lochbroom, county of Cromarty. These are a group of small islands lying off the coast of Cromarty, at the entrance of Loch Broom, and about eleven miles north-westward of Ullapool. It is not known from what circumstance they have obtained their name, "for though called Summer Isles, they have," Doctor Macculloch observes, "a most wintry aspect, as much from their barrenness, as from their rocky outlines and the disagreeable red colour and forms of the cliffs." The principal isles are named Tanara-Beg and Tanara-More, which see: they are favourably situated as fishing-stations.
SUMMERLEE, a village, in the parish of Old Monkland, forming part of the late quoad sacra parish of Gartsherrie, Middle ward of the county of Lanark, 2 miles (W. N. W.) from Airdrie; containing 625 inhabitants. This village is situated in the eastern part of the parish, in a district abounding in coal and ironstone; and is the seat of several blast-furnaces and of iron-works, in which the population is almost exclusively employed. The Messrs. Wilson and Company are the proprietors of the great iron-works here; and this village and Gartsherrie are the only places of the many in the parish wherein similar works are carried on, in which the furnaces are not in operation on the Sabbath-day. A great quantity of the Rochsilloch ironstone, so well known for its excellence, is wrought by the Summerlee Company; and a white freestone is quarried in the neighbourhood, chiefly for their use.
SUTHERLANDSHIRE, a county, in the north of Scotland, bounded on the north by the North Sea; on the, east and north-east, by Caithness-shire; on the south, by Ross-shire and the Frith of Dornoch; on the south-east, by the Moray and Dornoch Friths; and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. It lies between 57° 53' and 58° 33' (N. Lat.) and 3° 40' and 5° 13' (W. Long.), and is about 62 miles in length and 49 miles in breadth; comprising an area of 2875 square miles, or 1,840,000 acres, of which about 32,000 acres are inlets of the sea, forming salt-water lakes. There are 5157 houses, of which 4977 are inhabited; and the population amounts to 24,782, of whom 11,384 are males, and 13,398 females. This county is supposed to have derived its name from its forming the south division of the old diocese of Caithness. It appears to have been early visited by the Romans, over whom Corbred I. obtained a signal victory, being assisted by the Murrays, a family of Germans who had been expelled from their native country by the Romans, and to whom, in consideration of their services, he granted all the lands to the north of the river Spey. In the reign of Corbred II., another body of the same people, who were called the Cattii, came over from Germany, and settling in these lands, contributed to the victory which that monarch, called by the Roman historian Galgacus, achieved over the Roman invaders previously to their subjugation of the kingdom. The Murrays early became proprietors of Sutherland; and from their chieftains, first distinguished by the title of thanes, or earls, in the former part of the 13th century, the estates and title have lineally descended to the present Duke of Sutherland.
Previously to the Reformation, the county was part of the see of Caithness, of which the cathedral church was at Dornoch; it has since that time been included in the synod of Sutherland and Caithness, and now comprises two presbyteries, and thirteen parishes. For civil purposes, the county, which was once a portion of the sheriffdom of Caithness, has within the last century been separated from that shire, and erected into a distinct sheriffdom under the jurisdiction of a sheriff-depute, who holds his courts at Dornoch, the county town, and who appoints a sheriff-substitute. Besides Dornoch, which is the only royal burgh, the county contains the villages of Golspie, Brora, and Helmsdale, on the eastern, and some smaller villages on the northern and western coasts. By the act of the 2nd of William IV., it returns one member to the imperial parliament: the constituency amounted in the year 1844 to 169, being an increase of sixteen over the year 1840.
The surface presents a general assemblage of mountainous heights, valleys, and moors, in continuous succession; the coasts are deeply indented with inlets of the sea, running far into the land, and forming, as already remarked, extensive lakes. The interior is naturally divided into three districts, the characteristic features of which are strongly marked. The land in the south-eastern or level district, towards the sea, is flat, and sheltered on the north-west by a ridge of hills varying from 300 to 800 feet in height, and containing some rich pasturage. The middle district comprises nearly all the straths of Helmsdale, Brora, Fleet, and Oikel, each watered by a river from which it takes its name; it has some pleasant valleys in good cultivation. The north-western district, bordering on the Atlantic, is of more wild and mountainous aspect, abounding with lakes and with Alpine scenery, and containing some tracts of table-land. The principal mountains are, Ben-More, in Assynt, which has an elevation of 3431 feet above the level of the sea; Ben-Clibrig, which rises to the height of 3164; Ben-Hope, near the lake of that name, and Fionaven, which are respectively 3061 and 3015 feet high; Ben-Hee, Spionnadh, and Benarmine, which range from 2800 to 2300 feet in height; and numerous other mountains, varying in elevation from 1935 to 1282 feet.
Among the chief rivers is the Oikel, which has its source in Loch Aish, near the eastern base of Ben-More, and flowing in an eastern direction through a pleasant and well-wooded vale, forms a boundary between this county and Ross-shire. After a course of more than forty miles, in which it receives the waters of Loch Shin, and numerous streams, whereof the principal is the Carron from Ross-shire, it constitutes the Kyle of Sutherland, and falls into Dornoch Frith, from which it is navigable for a small distance. The Cassley and the Shin are both fine rivers, the former flowing through the strath of that name, and the latter issuing from Loch Shin: after a course of not more than six miles, they both fall into the Oikel. The river Fleet, flowing through Strathfleet with great rapidity, acquires a considerable breadth, and joins the Dornoch Frith at the Little Ferry; while the Brora, issuing from Loch Brora, after a course of about five miles runs into the sea at the village of Brora. The Helmsdale rises in Loch Baden, in the parish of Kildonan, and after a course of about twenty miles, falls into the sea at the village of Helmsdale, about three miles to the south of the Ord of Caithness. In the northern part of the county are, the river Halladale, which rises also in the heights of Kildonan, and after a course of about twenty miles, flows into the Pentland Frith at the Tor of Bighouse; the Strathy, which has its source in the parish of Farr, and watering the Highland vale of that name, falls into the sea at the small village of Strathy; the river Naver, which issues from a loch, and passing through Strathnaver, after a course of thirty miles falls into the sea at the bay of Torrisdale; and several smaller streams, of which the Borgie, the Hope, and the Dionard are the chief. On the western coast are the rivers Inchard, Laxford, Inver, and Kirkaig, all of which, after flowing from ten to fifteen miles, through wild and romantic tracts of country, fall into salt-water lakes, or inlets of the sea.
The principal lake is Loch Shin, the largest of a chain of lakes which, having merely intervals of land varying from two to three or four miles, like those in the line of the Caledonian canal, might afford a communication by water, between the eastern and western seas. It is about fifteen miles in length, and from one to two miles in breadth, but is not distinguished by many interesting features. The other lakes in this chain are, Loch Geam, at the western extremity of Loch Shin, and closely adjoining it, about three miles in length; Loch Merkland, two miles to the west of Loch Geam, and from three to four miles in length; Loch More, about a mile and a half to the west of Merkland, and five miles in length: and Loch Stack, one mile to the north-west of Loch More, of circular form, and about one mile in diameter. Loch Assynt, the principal lake in the Assynt district, in which are about 200 lakes of smaller dimensions, is nearly seven miles in length, and from one to two miles in breadth; the surrounding scenery is beautifully picturesque, and from the heights that crown its banks are some extensive and deeply-interesting prospects. The chief of the lakes in the immediate vicinity are Lochs Urigill, Cama, Veyatie, Nagana, Beanoch, Gormloch, and Culfreich, which are all of considerable extent, and some of them marked with features of romantic character. In Eddrachillis and Durness are also numerous large lakes, of which Loch Hope is the most interesting. It is situated at the base of the lofty mountain Ben-Hope, and is about six miles in length, and from one to two miles in breadth: from its northern extremity issues a small river which, after a course of little more than a mile, flows into the sea at Inverhope, not far from Loch Eribole. Loch Laoghal, on the eastern side of the mountain of Laoghal, is, with Loch Craigie, a continuation of it, about seven miles in length. To the south-west of this is Loch Maedie, about three miles in length, and having on its surface some picturesque wooded islands; and about five miles to the east of Maedie is Loch Naver, extending for six miles along the base of Ben-Clibrig. On the east side of this mountain are the secluded and picturesque Lochs Corr and Vealloch, the former three, and the latter two, miles in length; to the east of which are Loch Strathy, and various other lakes in the higher parts of Kildonan, whereof Loch Badan, Loch-na-Clar, Loch-na-Cuen, and Loch Truderscaig are the principal. In the south-eastern district are also numerous small lakes. The most interesting is Loch Brora, three miles and a half in length, in some parts contracting its width to half a mile, and in others expanding to a mile and a half; its banks display many of the most attractive features of Highland scenery.
Only a comparatively small proportion of the land is in cultivation, the greater part by far being mountain pasture, heath, and moor. Of the arable land the prevailing soils are, clay, sand, peat-moss, and a mixture of sand, gravel, and black mould, forming a kind of hazel loam: the system of agriculture has been greatly improved, more especially since the opening of the interior by the formation of roads, and is now equal to that pursued in the most fertile parts of the country. The chief crops are barley and oats, mostly grown along the south-eastern coast: but little wheat is sown, though on the lands of Dunrobin, and at Skibo, some favourable crops have been raised. Peas and beans were formerly much cultivated, but since the introduction of potatoes, the latter have been discontinued: some acres were appropriated to the growth of flax. The mountainous districts afford good pasturage to blackcattle and sheep, of which great numbers are reared. On the dairy-farms, and on some other lands, cattle of the Argyll breed are kept, but the black breed is the most general: of these, many are sold, when young, to dealers who fatten them for distant markets. The sheep, of which more than 200,000 are fed on the mountain pastures, are usually of the Cheviot breed. The horses were principally of the Highland breed; but since the extension of the sheep-farming, the number has been greatly diminished. The lands have in many parts been drained; several inclosures have been made, and some few portions of waste brought into profitable cultivation. The farm-houses are in general substantially built and well arranged; and nearly every improvement in the construction of agricultural implements has been adopted.
There are a few remains of ancient woods, consisting of coppices of oak, with some birch and alder: the plantations, most of which are of recent growth, are of Scotch fir, ash, beech, elm, and larch, with a few birch, alder, and hazel. The principal substrata are, coal, limestone, marble, and freestone; but no minerals of importance have been discovered. The seats are, Dunrobin Castle, Skibo Castle, Embo, Uppat, Clyne, Kintradwell, Cyder Hall, Crackaig, Tongue, and a few others. The only manufacture is that of kelp: the cotton-manufacture, formerly introduced, has been discontinued since the destruction of the works at Spinningdale, near Creich, by an accidental fire in 1806. The herring-fishery off the coast affords employment to a considerable number of persons; the chief trade of the several ports consists in the exportation of sheep, wool, salmon, and kelp. The interior of the county has been opened by excellent roads, affording great facility of communication, and tending much to the development of its natural resources, under the auspices of the Sutherland family, assisted by parliamentary grants. The rateable annual value of Sutherlandshire, according to returns made under the income-tax, is £36,113, of which £33,689 are for lands, £860 for houses, and the remainder for fisheries. The principal monuments of antiquity are, the interesting remains of Dornoch cathedral, and the ruins of Pictish castles, of which Coles Castle and Dun-Dornigil are the chief, with numerous cairns, encampments, and subterraneous buildings.
SUURSAY, an isle, in the parish of Harris, county of Inverness. It is one of the small isles lying in the sound of Harris, and is distant from Bernera south-east-ward about three miles; it is between two and three miles in circumference, and is uninhabited.
SWANSTON, a village, in the parish of Colinton, county of Edinburgh, 5 miles (S. by W.) from Edinburgh; containing 115 inhabitants. This village is situated in the south-eastern part of the parish, near the base of the Pentland hills, and in the vicinity of several rivulets and springs. The washing of clothes for families residing in the city, is carried on to a large extent here.
SWINEHOLM, an isle, in the parish of Evie, county of Orkney. It is a very small isle, lying between the main land of the parish and the island of Shapinshay, and a little to the east of Gairsay; and is uninhabited.
SWINEY, a village, in the parish of Latheron, county of Caithness, 6½ miles (N. E. by E.) from Dunbeath; containing 71 inhabitants. The village is situated on the eastern coast of the county, and is a small fishing-station, employing about ten boats. In the vicinity is Swiney Castle, one of the many old fabrics of a similar description in the parish, built along the shore, and now in ruins.
Swinton and Simprim
SWINTON and SIMPRIM, a parish, in the county of Berwick, 5 miles (N.) from Coldstream; containing 1095 inhabitants. This parish comprehends the old parishes of Swinton and Simprim, which were united in 1761. The name of the latter is of very uncertain derivation; that of the former place, which is of great antiquity, is vulgarly said to have been derived from the number of wild boars with which the lands were anciently infested. During the heptarchy, Swinton constituted part of the kingdom of Northumbria, and on its separation was granted, about the year 1060, by Malcolm Canmore to Edulph de Swinton, who had materially assisted that monarch in his efforts to recover the Scottish throne. From its exposed and defenceless situation, it became the frequent scene of devastation and predatory incursion during the period of border warfare; and soon after its incorporation with Scotland, it appears to have fallen from a state of tillage and fertility into a dreary and unproductive desert. It was probably with a view to its restoration that the lands were granted by Edgar, son of Malcolm Canmore, to the Abbey of Coldingham, together with cattle to be employed in their cultivation. This gift was confirmed by Alexander, the brother and successor of Edgar; but the lands were afterwards restored to the family of Swinton by David, the youngest son of Malcolm, who bestowed on them all the privileges of a free baronial tenure.
The family of Swinton is one of the most ancient in the country, and many of the barons were distinguished by acts of heroism during some of the most important events recorded in Scottish history. Allan de Swinton, the fifth baron, was especially eminent for his military prowess; and his name appears as a subscribing witness to several deeds executed by William the Lion. To the valour and conduct of his descendant, Sir John, is attributed the victory obtained by the Scots at Otterburn; and his heroic death at the battle of Homelden, after having vainly endeavoured to rally the Scottish forces, is recorded by Sir Walter Scott in his poem of Hallidon Hill. He had married a daughter of Robert II., King of Scotland, by whom he had a son, who distinguished himself in the wars with France during the reign of Henry V. of England. Sir John Swinton, another descendant of the family, was a zealous adherent to the party of his lawful sovereign in the rebellion of Bothwell and Home. During the usurpation of Cromwell the proprietor of Swinton, having embraced the cause of the parliament, was made a member of the privy council, and appointed one of the commissioners for the administration of justice in the arrangement of Scottish affairs. After the Restoration, he was arraigned for treason in having borne arms against his sovereign at the battle of Worcester; his estates were forfeited to the crown, and himself and family driven into exile; but his son returned to England after the Revolution, and succeeded in obtaining an act of parliament, by which the attainder was taken off, and the family estates restored. Since that time the lands have remained in the uninterrupted possession of his descendants, having during a period of 700 years continued in one regular descent from father to son, till 1830, when John Swinton, grandson of Lord Swinton, died, and a younger brother succeeded. The only memorable event connected with this parish, since the earlier periods of border warfare, is the battle that occurred here between the Scottish troops and Sir Henry Percy, brother of the Earl of Northumberland, who, in 1558, accompanied by the Marshal of Berwick, with 8000 foot and 200 horse, made an irruption into the Merse, and burnt the towns of Dunse and Langton. On their return from that district, they were overtaken at this place by the Scottish forces under Lord Keith, and the French troops stationed at Kelso and Eyemouth for the defence of the marches; and after an obstinate and sanguinary conflict, the latter were defeated with great loss, and the English quietly retreated with all their plunder.
The parish is about four miles in length, and rather less than three miles in average breadth, and of very irregular form. The surface is varied only by gentle undulations, rising in no part into eminences of any great elevation; and in the intervals the grounds are flat, forming plains of considerable extent. The scenery is generally pleasing, and is embellished with wood, which, being planted chiefly in hedge-rows and diffused over the surface, has a very good effect. The only stream of any importance is the small river Leet, which has its source in the parish of Whitsome, and flowing through this parish in a western direction, falls into the Tweed at Coldstream: much benefit has arisen from the recent improvement of this river by deepening its channel, and thus preventing the inundations to which it was liable. There are but few springs; and unless sunk to a very considerable depth, the wells are frequently dry during the summer months: the only lake, called Loch Swinton, and which was of very great extent, has been drained, and now is under profitable culture. The soil is deep, and generally rich. The number of acres is estimated at about 5450, of which, with the exception of thirty acres in plantations, the whole is arable. The crops are, oats, wheat, barley, beans, turnips, &c.; the system of agriculture is in an improved state; the lands are inclosed, and the farm houses and offices substantially built and well arranged.
The plantations consist of oak, ash, elm, and firs, for all of which the soil is adapted; they are comparatively of recent growth, but are well managed and in a prosperous condition. The more ancient timber appears to have been destroyed during the short time the lands were in the possession of the Duke of Lauderdale, on whom they were conferred by Charles II. The substrata are chiefly of the old red sandstone formation, alternated with a white sandstone and a dark-coloured sandstone-slate, with occasional beds of indurated marl; a red micaceous sandstone also occurs in some parts, and is quarried for various uses. Boulders of sandstone, greywacke, transition granite, and greenstone are frequently found in the fields. The rateable annual value of the parish is £8494. Swinton House, the seat of Mr. Swinton, is a handsome mansion situated in a richly cultivated demesne, embellished with some stately timber. The village stands pleasantly on the turnpike-road to Berwick, and is very neatly built, containing many good houses; it is mostly inhabited by persons carrying on the handicraft trades requisite for the supply of the neighbourhood, and contains several shops and a comfortable inn. Fairs are held here in June and October; formerly they were great markets for cattle and agricultural produce, but at present they retain little of that character, and are chiefly for pleasure. Facility of communication is maintained with the neighbouring towns by good turnpike-roads, of which more than eight miles pass through the parish, and by convenient bridges, of which one was recently built. A sub-post is established under Coldstream.
The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Chirnside and synod of Merse and Teviotdale. The stipend of the incumbent is £270: the manse, an old building repaired and enlarged in 1833, is a comfortable residence; and the glebe, including the glebe land of the old parish of Simprim, comprises twenty-one acres, valued at £70 per annum. The church, erected in 1729, and enlarged and repaired in 1837, is a neat edifice adapted for a congregation of 500 persons: in an arched niche in the south wall, is a statue of Allan Swinton, the fifth baron of Swinton. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school affords a liberal course of instruction, and is well attended; the master has a salary of £34. 4., with a house built in 1816, a garden, and the school fees, averaging about £27. 10. annually. There is also a school of which the master derives his income exclusively from the fees. A friendly society has been for many years established, which is under good regulations, and has contributed materially to diminish the number of applications for parochial aid.
John Swinton, Esq., who was sheriff of Perthshire, and afterwards one of the senators of the college of justice, a zealous advocate for the introduction into Scotland of trial by jury in civil causes, and at whose suggestion the court of session was divided into two separate chambers, was a native of this place; he was the author of An Abridgement of the British Statutes since the Union, and of an elaborate treatise on weights and measures, which formed the basis of the act of parliament for reducing them to one general standard throughout the United Kingdom. There are some very slight remains of the ancient church of Simprim, which has long been in ruins. It appears to have been a small building of some strength, surrounded by a fosse, vestiges of which may still be traced; and in times of danger was resorted to as a place of safety, where the inhabitants took shelter till the population of the adjacent district, apprized by certain signals, came to their assistance. It is a fact worth recording, that the Rev. Thomas Boston, author of the well-known work Human Nature in its Fourfold State, was at one time minister of the now suppressed parish of Simprim, being ordained there in the year 1699.
SWINTON, a village, in the parish of Old Monkland, forming part of the late quoad sacra parish of Crosshill, Middle ward of the county of Lanark, 3 miles (W. by N.) from Old Monkland village; containing 184 inhabitants. It lies in the north-western part of the parish, a little south of the Monkland canal, and about half a mile to the north of Crosshill.
SWONA, or Swannay, an isle, in the parish of St. Mary, island of South Ronaldshay, South Isles of the county of Orkney; containing 54 inhabitants. This isle is about a mile in length and half a mile in breadth, lying on the west of the southern extremity of Ronaldshay, from which island it is separated by a branch of the Pentland Frith, through which vessels of any burthen may pass in safety. The isle is exposed on every side to the utmost rage of the Frith, and at each end of it are the dangerous whirlpools called the Wells of Swannay. The inhabitants are mostly pilots.
SYMINGTON, a parish, in the district of Kyle, county of Ayr, 5 miles (S. W.) from Kilmarnock; containing 918 inhabitants. This place, called Simon's Town, or Symington, from a person named Simon Lockhart, formerly residing here, is about four miles and a quarter long and one and a quarter broad, comprising 3660 acres, of which 1440 are in tillage, 1920 pasture, and 300 plantation and waste. The surface is undulated; and from the village, which is situated on a gentle eminence near the centre of the locality, extensive and beautifully diversified prospects present themselves, embracing the Frith of Clyde, agreeably enlivened with numerous vessels, the Ailsa rock, and the plains of Cunninghame, interspersed with gentlemen's seats, standing in the midst of verdant inclosures, and skirted with belts and clumps of thriving plantations. At the extreme boundary of the sight, the line of observation is closed on the north, west, and south, respectively, with the forms of the lofty Ben-Lomond, and its subordinate mountains, the romantic island of Arran, and the Galloway hills. The soil is in general clayey, on a hard subsoil; but near the village it is light and dry, incumbent on a soft rotten rock; and some tracts consist of a loamy or mossy earth, resting on a bed of fine clay. The grain raised is chiefly oats, and the usual green crops are cultivated; the annual average value of the produce being £10,080, of which £100 are returned for plantations, £300 for gardens, orchards, &c., and £90 for swine. About 400 dairy-cows of the Ayrshire breed are kept, besides a considerable number of young cattle; the sheep, amounting to between 500 and 600, are Cheviots, Leicesters, and the black-faced, and the draught-horses are the Clydesdale stock. Great improvements have been made within these few years by furrowdraining; and the farm-steadings are in general in good condition, being mostly built of stone and lime, with slated or thatched roofs. The rent of land averages £1. 15. per acre, except in the neighbourhood of the village, where it is much higher; and the leases run from sixteen to nineteen years. Grey and blue whinstone are abundant, passing across the district in layers not far from the surface, and in some places rising above it to the height of twelve feet; they supply a good material for the repair of roads, and are quarried to a great extent. Freestone also abounds, and, though rather coarse, is much used for the building of houses here, and is also sent for this purpose in considerable quantities to Kilmarnock. Limestone and coal are both found, but neither of them is of sufficient value to be profitably wrought. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5621.
The plantations, consisting chiefly of clumps and belts, are disposed about the mansions of Dankeith and Rosemount; those near the former house are of the longest growth, and the whole are in a thriving condition. Williamfield House, erected about the year 1831, at an expense of more than £20,000, including the cost of the surrounding improvements, is ornamented in front by a beautiful lake artificially formed, with a small island spread over with trees and shrubs, about which are to be seen numerous water-fowl of various kinds. Attached to the mansion is a large conservatory, containing many choice and valuable plants. The mansion called Townend House is situated on a fine eminence, and has an interesting and picturesque appearance, being constructed of whinstone rock, with dressings of freestone. The village contains about 280 inhabitants, principally labourers, and has a post-office communicating daily with Kilmarnock and Ayr. The road from Glasgow to Ayr and Portpatrick runs through the whole length of the parish; the mail once travelled on it, besides several other public coaches, and a great number of waggons. The Glasgow and Ayrshire railroad passes within two miles of the village. The produce of Symington is sent for sale chiefly to Kilmarnock; and coal, the only fuel used here, is obtained from the Fairlie, Gatehead, and Caprington pits, in the adjoining parishes of Dundonald and Riccarton. The parish is in the presbytery of Ayr and the synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and in the patronage of Lady Montgomerie; the minister's stipend is £247, with a manse, and a glebe of five acres, valued at £12 per annum. The church is an ancient structure, enlarged and thoroughly repaired in the year 1797; it stands in a central part, and contains 400 sittings, of which between thirty and forty are free. The parochial school affords instruction in Latin, Greek, and French, in addition to the usual branches; the master has a salary of £34. 6., with a house, and £50 fees. There is also a small female school. About ninety children receive instruction in the parish.
SYMINGTON, a parish, in the Upper ward of the county of Lanark, 3½ miles (S. W.) from Biggar; containing 488 inhabitants, of whom 213 are in the village. This place derived its name, originally "Symon's Town," from its ancient proprietor, Symon Loccard, who, having in the reign of Malcolm IV. obtained a grant of the lands, fixed his residence here, and also erected a chapel, which subsequently became the parish church, on the erection of the lands into a distinct parish, about the year 1232. The parish is bounded on the north and east by the river Clyde, and is about three miles in length and a mile and a half in breadth, comprising an area of 3400 acres, of which 2400 are arable, meadow, and pasture, and 140 woodland and plantations, and the remainder waste. The surface is diversified with several hills of considerable elevation, on one of which, called Castle Hill, was anciently a fortification, the site of which is now covered with trees. Towards the west is the mountain of Tinto, which rises to a height of 2400 feet above the level of the sea, and has on its summit a pile of stones vulgarly said to be the remains of a Druidical temple: on the south-east side, at no great height above its base, are the ruins of the castle of Fatlips, consisting of part of one of the walls, of great thickness, and the stones of which are so firmly compacted as to be incapable of separation. From the top of this mountain is obtained a view extending over sixteen counties.
The arable land is chiefly along the banks of the river; the pastures reach to the summit of the mountain. The soil in the lower lands is fertile, and great improvement has taken place in the system of agriculture; favourable crops of grain of all kinds, with potatoes, turnips, and hay, are produced; and the high lands afford excellent pasture. The cattle are chiefly of the Ayrshire breed, and much attention is paid to their improvement; the horses, of which few more are kept than what are required for agricultural purposes, are of the Clydesdale breed. The plantations are principally Scotch fir and larch, which latter seems more congenial to the soil; and around the village are some hard-wood trees of several kinds. The village is pleasantly situated at the foot of Castle Hill; a few of the inhabitants are employed in weaving for the Glasgow manufacturers, but the population of the parish is chiefly agricultural. Facility of intercourse with the neighbouring towns is afforded by the Carlisle and Stirling road, which passes through the parish; and the road from Lanark to Biggar runs along a bridge over the Clyde, which connects the parish with that of Culter. The rateable annual value of Symington is £2385. Its ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Biggar and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. The minister's stipend is £158. 6. 8., one-half of which is paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £15 per annum: patron, Sir Norman Macdonald Lockhart, Bart. The church is an ancient structure, repaired in 1761, and enlarged in 1820, and which again underwent a thorough repair in the year 1845; it contains 300 sittings, of which thirty are free. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house and garden, and the fees average about £15 per annum. There is also a parochial library. Remains of several camps exist in the parish, but they are in a very imperfect state. In a tumulus near the base of the mountain of Tinto, were found the bones of a human skeleton without the skull; and as the grave was not long enough to have contained an entire body, it is supposed that it suffered decapitation previous to its interment. In a tumulus about a quarter of a mile distant were found two urns, one of which was broken by the labourers, and the other is now in the possession of Mr. Carmichael, of East End. About fifty yards to the north of the village, are traces of the foundations of the ancient seat of the Symingtons; the moat is still nearly entire.