Archibald Allan.

History of Channelkirk online

. (page 48 of 50)
Online LibraryArchibald AllanHistory of Channelkirk → online text (page 48 of 50)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


that the two works had no apparent connection, and were
clearly constructions of a different period, and by a different
people. It is just possible, of course, that such an advan-
tageous post as Roy's " redoubt " would be utilised by the
Romans, especially when it lay so close to their camp.
This was almost necessary to insure protection from the
west ; and various straight wall-mounds connected with it
give indications of tampering with the original design.

The traditions of the district have always associated the
Channelkirk " Camp " with the site of the church and



646 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

glebe. It seems inevitable that a position once having
been chosen for the camp on the heights above these, its
boundaries would naturally embrace the tops of the steep
ridge on the south, on which they are situated. This also
seemed essential to securing the springs of the Holy Water
Cleuch for a water-supply, just as Roy's "west" wall rests
on a water spring on the camp's upper side, with a probable
purpose of the same kind. Roy has not included in his
sketch (Plate VI.) any part of the camp near the church
and glebe, but the wall - mound on which the lower
boundaries of the manse garden and glebe are set give
even better suggestions of the camp than do those on which
Roy has founded his opinion. This was the view of Mr
Francis Lynn, Galashiels, who examined the whole ground
with us on 17th September 1897. On the other hand,
Mr James Wilson, Editor, Galashiels, on 8th June 1897,
while at first satisfied, expressed later some doubts about
the southern part of the camp, but accepted the northern,
that is, Roy's " north " and " west " wall fragments. As both
gentlemen are thoroughly conversant with " camp " evidences,
the question, so far as our present proofs carry us, hovers
in suspense. Undoubtedly the proofs would be more patent
to General Roy, Mr Chalmers, and Mr Kinghorn, before the
" horrid " ploughs had done their work ; and our judgment,
it appears to us, must now rest chiefly on (i) what they
saw and described, (2) on the unshaken local tradition, and
(3) on what may after this date be discovered in the soil.

One thing remains invulnerable amid the conflict of
opinion, viz., the character of the camp. All admit its
rectilinear construction, a fact yet clear by what is left to
us, and its consequent similarity to other camps of received
Roman origin. In this respect it is unique, perhaps, in



ANTIQUITIES 647

Lauderdale, as the other camps are built on the curvilinear
principle. It is certainly the only one of its kind in the
parish.

Kirktonhill. — This is the camp which General Roy has
called a " redoubt," or " small post," either joined to the
Channelkirk Camp itself, " or to have been connected with
it by a line." A Photo-engraving of it is here given.
Chalmers thinks the " redoubt " " remarkable " and " pro-
digious," and accepts Roy's theory. Undoubtedly it should
have afforded as defensive a bulwark as any camp in
Lauderdale. Its natural position must have been, in bar-
baric days, nearly invulnerable as well as inaccessible. But
the character of its construction does not strengthen the
view that it was ever any part of the Channelkirk Camp,
except as a temporary advantage, pressed for the nonce
into service. It is not rectilinear but curvilinear throughout,
and the few straight wall-mounds warped into its formation
do not seem sufficient to sustain the idea of even a Roman
tampering, as they are built in the same way as the curved
walls, and with similar materials. Mr Wilson was firmly of
this opinion. In going over Roy's own ground no trace of
a wall connecting the camp of Channelkirk with this
" redoubt " was anywhere apparent. Mr Wilson, moreover,
had measured the " redoubt " before he knew of Roy's
plan, and was decidedly of opinion that it was a medium-
sized " British " fort.

The fort is situated on a crest of hill three-fourths of a
mile west by south of Channelkirk Church. It is looo ft.
above sea-level, and rises almost sheer on the west side from
the level of the Rauchy Burn 2CK) ft. lower. There are three
concentric ramparts on the south-west, and two on the north-
east, the two systems giving the end curves of the oval forma-



648 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

tion of the camp's original shape. As we advance from the
outside of the north-east portion, and come immediately
within the two ramparts, we meet with three other wall-
mounds, not curved but straight, and which seem to have
crossed the " oval " contour at this point as the strings of a
guitar cross the sounding hole in the centre of the instru-
ment. Going still further within the camp, we reach a small
complete circle, of 70 ft. diameter, abutting upon these
straight lines. In all, we have thus at the north-east end
of the camp two curved ramparts, three straight ramparts
cutting into the curved ones, and, in most of all, the circle
of 70 ft diameter. The whole camp in its entire ovality
comprises 4 acres, i rood, 12 poles. When we measure the
two curved ramparts, the ditch between them is found to be
7 ft. in depth. Laying the line over the outer rampart gives
from base to base a surface measurement of 30 ft. From the
top of the outside surface to the top of the first rampart, and
spanning the ditch, we get 35 ft. The ditch is 7 ft. deep,
but when cut open down to the rock, as it would be origin-
ally, it is io| ft. deep. From the top of the inner curved
rampart to the top of the outmost straight rampart measures
45 ft. The entire length of the longest diameter of the oval
is 525 ft. The sides of the oval are gone. We have but the
two ends of the camp left.

The inside circle, of 70 ft. diameter, is too regularly con-
structed to have been made by chance quarrying, of which
there is also evidence inside. We discovered on digging
signs of an opening, or narrow gateway, or passage. The
wall-mounds are all built with small stones mixed with earth,
and the wall of the small circle is composed of the same
materials. But at the opening referred to, the stones were
much larger than those composing the body of the wall, and



650 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

this side there are low, straight, wall-mounds apparent, but
these have nothing to do with the camp, and are marks of
modern structures made for agricultural purposes.

To the south of the camp there is a smaller hill of similar
shape. Some years ago, it is reported that on digging near
it, a grave, or graves were found, and these were supposed
to have been early Christian burials. Bones were found in
them.

Hillhouse. — Between Kelphope Water and Hillhouse Burn
lies Ditcher Law, a hill which rises to a height of 1202 ft.
above sea-level, being 400 ft. higher than their channels.
The highest point of the Law may be a mile and a quarter
from the meeting-place of these waters, and the camp is
situated on the haunch of the Law, nearer by a half-mile
from the same place, at an elevation of 1000 ft. north north-
west of the junction. The camp is immediately behind
Hillhouse Farm to the north, and commands a fine view of
Lauderdale and the Borders. As Kirktonhill Camp is at the
one extremity of the semi-circuit of Upper Lauderdale, so
Hillhouse Camp stands at the other, moving from west to
east, and it is clear that the four waters, viz., Rauchy Burn,
Headshaw Water, Hillhouse Burn, and Kelphope Water,
with the hills between these in respective alternation, have
been the chief determinants in the choice of the sites of the
four camps, viz., Kirktonhill, Channelkirk, Carfrae, and
Hillhouse. They constitute a complete system of defence,
if we assume that the people who held them were bound
by a common interest and object ; and the pass through
Lauderdale to the Lothians was thus rendered impossible
by any of the narrow valleys which conduct these waters
from the table-land of the Lammermoors down to the
Leader.



ANTIQUITIES 651

The camp is egg-shaped ; like an egg also it rises to a
rounded height in the centre. The larger end points north-
wards towards Ditcher Law, and between the camp and this
hill there is a wide stretching hollow or neck of land. Two
water-cleft small ravines run up into this neck ; one falling
down to the Kelphope Water on the east, the other much
larger, to Hillhouse Burn on the west. On this north side,
therefore, the camp was well defended naturally. But there
were also three ramparts, one within the other, which are
also here apparent enough, although the second or middle
one is very much defaced. It is distinct and clear, however,
right round the whole of the north side. The outside
wall, at the north-east corner, measures from the top to the
base 24 ft, sloping at an angle of 40°. Inside this wall the
ground seems to have been levelled up by the materials of
the middle wall having been scattered into the ditches on
either side of it, thus almost erasing the middle wall alto-
gether. The third or inmost wall is still intact, and well
preserved, considering the lapse of time. The south side of
the camp, that is, the smaller end of the oval, circles round
a steep part of the hill overlooking the farm, and the three
walls which may have run round the entire camp are here
not so much " wall and ditch " as " bank and terrace." From
the bottom of the outmost bank up to the top of the first
landing or terrace, measures 18 ft., at an angle of 40°: the
second bank measures 20 ft., the third 25 ft. The flat land-
ings between these measure 12 ft. each in breadth, that is,
from the top of the one bank to the base of the other, at an
angle of 35° to 40° throughout.

A remarkable feature of this camp is, that a deep hollow
has been made clear through the topmost part of it, so that
the hill has an appearance of having had a big square ditch



652 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

cut across it from east to west. This trench is 410 ft. long,
measuring from side to side of the camp. It is 75 ft. broad.

When we consider how this trench has been formed, it is
evident at once that the camp existed before it, for the side-
walls of the camp have been cut clean through by it, and
their torn edges are apparent at either side. The hollow has
the look of having been made by water, for the broad groove
is not only carried across the top of the camp, but is evident
all down the hillside to the bottom of the glen where Hill-
house Water runs. The same appearance is presented on the
other side, though not quite so pronounced. Our opinion is
that, originally, there was a deep, cup-like hollow on the
hill-top, which may have been converted into a site of earth
houses, signs of which are said by some to have been dis-
cerned there, and that through course of time it got filled with
water, which, soaking through the soil, produced something
like a landslide, scooping both sides of the camp completely
down into the low lands beneath. The steep nature of the
ground on either side of the camp renders this occurrence
probable.

The whole area of the camp may be considered as 5
acres, i rood, and 25 poles. The photo-engraving is taken
from the south-west corner. The camp has been quarried
into here and there, and in doing so, about seven years
ago, a lead ball the size of a walnut was found. The walls of
the camp appear to be composed of thrown-up earth, with
stones dumped in at intervals to keep the earth from sliding
down. The stones are nearly all laid on their edge, with their
flat sides leaning against the mound. In 1893 there was found
at Hillhouse an ingot of dark-coloured bronze in the form of
a rude flat axe, 2^ in. long by i| across the broadest end.

Carfrae Camp. — This camp is situated upon and com-



ANTIQUITIES 653

mands, like Hillhouse, a promontory between two waters,
Hillhouse Burn and Headshaw Water, or the Leader proper.
All three camps, viz., Kirktonhill, Hillhouse, and Carfrae,
have the same feature in common, that they are placed nearer
to the waters or burns on their west sides than to those on
their east. By the nature of the sites this was necessary, as
the ground is more steep and rugged on the west sides, and
the several burns have there cut closer into the hillsides than
the burns have done on the east, and rendered the ascent to
the camps more abrupt and precipitous. Attacks from the
west would be very difficult indeed.

Carfrae Camp, oval in shape, to all appearance, has only
well-ploughed-down surface "rings" or part-rings to show
its site. These, three in number, are found on the south-
east of the fort, and are very distinct. The hill on which it
is placed is conical, abrupt in ascent, and rises in a quarter
of a mile from about 700 ft. to 987 ft. above sea-level. The
camp must have been of considerable size, and very strong.
It would be well supplied with water from springs near it on
the east side, and quite easy of access. The camp is distant
from Carfrae a quarter mile south-west, and three-quarters
north from Oxton village. It is almost surrounded by woods,
which hide the sharp contour of the hill on which it is
placed. It was, doubtless, this camp which was the " Caer "
or fort from which Carfrae derives its name ; and from its
central position at the head of Lauderdale and its superior
strength, would be the most noted citadel of warfare on the
upper watershed of the Leader.

Judging from the nature of the ground on the top of the
hill, which in all likelihood would be embraced within its
scope in order to complete the defence of the place, it may
have been from three to four acres in area.



654 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

Close to the present farmhouse, Carfrae boasts a Border
peel. It is the sole representative of many which were
scattered round the parish in the da}'s of the Stuart Kings.
In 1535 the command went forth that every considerable place
on the Borders should erect a fortalice or peel. The unsettled
nature of the times seemed to warrant it. The law set forth
that " every landit ma(n) dwelland in the inland or upon the
bordouris havand thare ane hundreth pund land of new
extent, sail big ane sufficient barmkyfi apoun his heretage
and landis, in place maist c"venient, of stane and lyme c"tenand
three score futis of the square, ane eln thick and vi. elnys
heicht, for the ressett and defence of him, his tennets, and
their gudes in trublous tyme wt ane toure in the sami(n) for
himself gif he thinks it expedient, and that all uther landit
me(n) of smaller rent and revenew big pelis and gret
strenthis as thai please for saising of thare selfis, me(n),
tennets, and gudis, and that all the saidis strenthis, barm-
kynis and pelis be biggit and completit w'in twa yeres under
the pane." *

This could not have been a pleasant law to landed men,
and the expense must have been a grievance, for each owner
had to bear it himself, a burden which would in time be
felt also by the tenants. This accounts, probably, for the
careless, inartistic manner in which they were built. Archi-
tectural beauty about them is nowhere discoverable, and
they are not massive enough to command respect, nor old
enough to be venerable ; neither are they identified with
any general display of heroic spirit during that period to
clothe them with romance. They are simply interesting.
They are relics of a past time in our countr}''s history,
which, a few years after the Peel Law, had as its chief
* Scotch Acts, ii., p. 346.



ANTIQUITIES 655

features a queen twelve months old ; the Earl of Arran as
Regent, easy and fickle, with a policy invertebrate ; Henr)-
VIII. struggling to marry the infant sovereign to his son
Edward ; and the nobility and clergy plotting and counter
plotting to accomplish their particular schemes. The peels
were certainly required, for it was during the year 1544
that an English fleet landed an army on the Forth coasts,
which burned Edinburgh for three days and ravaged the
Fife coasts ; which marched through the Borders pillaging
and destroying, being checked only at Ancrum Moor, but
which returned in 1545 to destroy " 192 towns, towers, stedes
barnekins, parish churches, bastel houses ; 243 villages, and
seven monasteries and friar-houses," among which were
Jedburgh, Kelso, Melrose, and Dryburgh Abbeys.

Lauderdale was perhaps spared at that time, though it
had been harried in 1406-7. But a few years later, viz., in
the reign of Edward VI., to marry w^hom to Mary, Queen
of Scots, was the chief cause of the conflict from the
beginning, we find Sir Robert Bowes in possession of
Lauder and fortifying it for the English, and we ascertain
that he left it " in his opinion of such strength that all
Scotland, with aid of any foreign prince, is not able to recover
it." * Mary was in France for security, and help might be
brought from there ! " The Borthwicks," moreover, " and
Pringles are to furnish beefs and muttons weekly, and three
months beforehand if they list." But what a tale is told
for the plundered dale ! " There is nigh no wheat there,"
it is added, " and they dowbt bringing it from Berwick
with their weak cattle " (none nearer than Berwick ! ) " but
if they can they will serve them (soldiers) in bread from
Lothian."

* Calendar of Scottish Papers.



656 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

Carfrae Peel has stood wear and tear in a worthy manner,
and its chief foe, the dyke builder, has not found it necessary
as a quarry. We hope it may long be spared such degrada-
tion. It is in safe hands with the present tenant.

There is said to have been a discovery of an ancient
burial at Carfrae similar to that at Nether Howden and
the one found at Channelkirk Church (see p. 284). But no
sufficient data of its dimensions have been preserved to us
to render the matter a subject of any certainty.

A dollar valued about 4s. was found in one of Carfrae
fields some years ago, Spanish, and of the reign of Philip
IV., King of Spain and the Indies, Archduke of Austria,
and Duke of Burgundy and Artois ; date about 1640.
Different kinds of Spanish coins have been found in the
district at various times.

Bowerhousc. — Somewhat further than a mile and a half
straight west from Blackburn Farm, on the highway to
Lauder, lies Bowerhouse Camp. It rises to a height of
1000 ft. above sea-level, and is very w^ell preserved through-
out, though it appears to be the smallest in area of all
the " British " camps in this parish. It measures all over,
I acre, 2 roods, 17 poles. It is a quarter mile due w^est
from Nether Bowerhouse Farm, from which place the ascent
to it is most convenient. It is entirely covered with wood.
Like the other camps it is oval in shape, and measures 350
ft. long by 200 ft. broad. At the extreme west side the
walls have been quarried across, but these show only loose
stones and earth composing them. The ground is high in
the centre. There are two concentric walls, and the ditch
between measures 26 ft. from top to top, being 7 to 9 ft.
deep in some parts, especially on the south side.

Bowerhouse is specially noted for the number of flint



ANTIQUITIES 657

arrow heads, knives, etc., which have been found in the fields
adjacent to the steading. The present tenant, Mr John
Fleming, jun., has found several fine specimens which can be
examined. The following have been described in the Pro-
ceedings of the Society of Antiquaries (Scotland) for 1887-8 : —
(i) A scraper of black flint, 2 in. long, curved longitudinally
round at the scraping end and acutely pointed at the other,
worked all round the sides ; (2) A flint knife, noticed in the
Proceedings, 1893-4, p. 323 ; (3) Two stemmed arrow-heads,
and part of a specimen of leaf shape ; (4) A bronze cheek-
ring of bridle bit, of early Iron Age date, 2| in. in diameter.
With this ring were found other objects, but all were
unfortunately destroyed.

Over Howden. — A few hundred yards south-west, and due
west from the steading, are found the marks of two oval
camps of the usual kind called " British." They were over-
looked in the Survey of 1856-7, and we' had the good fortune
to call the attention of the Surveyors to them two years ago.
The farmer at present in Over Howden, Mr Andrew Sharp,
was the first to awaken interest in them. They have been
for many years regularly cultivated and ploughed over, but
the " rings " are unmistakable. The one in the north field,
due west from the steading, is a complete circle, being
300 ft. in diameter. Mr Sharp affirms that a vast difference
exists between the soil outside and that inside the " ring."
It is "thin" inside, as if the top earth had been lifted and
laid on the wall tops. The camp in the south field overhangs
the " dene " or den, from which " Holdene " derives its
name. It is oval in shape, being 400 ft. long and 300 ft.
broad, and has an area of 2 acres, 3 roods. Both camps
are more than 900 ft. above .sea-level. The .south-field camp
has distinct traces of two concentric walls at each of the

2 T



658 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

oval ends. Roughly measured, being in turnips at the
time,' the space between the tops of the walls measured
75 ft, and we were assured that in the "ditches" the soil
was very deep, though not nearly so deep everywhere else
around the field.

Some interesting specimens of the Stone Age in Scotland
have been found at Over Howden. In the Museum of
Antiquities, Edinburgh (first floor, east end of north side,
case marked A F, No. 298), can be seen an axe of fel-
stone, measuring 4yV in. by 2-/5 in., found on this farm. It
has its cutting edge chipped, and it is polished. It was
purchased by the Museum in 1888. Again, on first floor,
south side, in window cases, marked A O, No. 58, there is
an Over Howden pebble of sandstone, 2yV in- in diameter,
with perforation picked from each side, purchased as above,
same year. Again, in floor case, north side of same floor,
case B E, Nos. 170, 171, are to be seen two whorls, one of
claystone, i^ in. in diameter, with circle round spindle-hole
on one side; and another of sandstone, if in. in diameter,
both purchased as above, same year. These whorls are said
to have been made and fitted on to the wooden spindle so
as to increase and maintain the rotary motion given to it
by the twirl of the finger and thumb in spinning from
the distaff. They are of all periods, from the first appear-
ance of the art of spinning in the Stone Age down to recent
times. They are usually discovered casually in the soil,
in the neighbourhood of brochs, crannogs, and other
occupied sites of the Iron Age and mediaeval or recent
dates.

A peel or fortalice stood long at Over Howden, which,
both in ancient and modern times, appears to have been a
fortified place. The southern part of the present farmhouse



ANTIQUITIES 659

seems to be part of the old peel, as the walls bear evidence
of age and strength far beyond modern requirements. The
walls, for example, are 3 ft. 9 in. in thickness, and no doubt
were reckoned to be fit to stand a siege in time of danger.
The peel would in all probability be built in 1535-37, under
the general Border law issued for that purpose by King
James V.

Nether Howden. — At a di.stance of nearly half a mile
south-east from Nether Howden steading, on the brow of
the height which overlooks Carfraemill from the south, lie
" Nether Howden Rings," as they are locally termed. This
means, of course, the usual " British " fort of the kind which
is so numerous in the parish. It seems to have been similar
in construction to the one at Bowerhouse, viz., having one
broad deep ditch with walls on either side. The ground
has been long under cultivation, and this accounts for its
being almost as indistinct as the fort at Carfrae. Most of
it is within an ordinary field, the rest of it to the south
side being underwood. It is oval in shape, stands 784 ft.
above sea-level, and may have been in area from if to
2 acres.

In one of Nether Howden fields called " Little Broom ie-
side," one of the farm-servants, while ploughing there several
years ago, stumbled upon an old grave similar to those
found near Addinston in 1873. He informed us that it was
five or six feet long, ordinary breadth, and from two to
two and a half feet deep. Round water-worn .stones between
the size of a " nieve " and a head were found in it, and
" burnt sticks " or charcoal. No bones were noticed. He
put back the stones over it again and covered it up, and
it may yet be opened by the curious.

Roman Road. — In 1888, the late Mr Mowat, for .some



660 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

time editorially connected with Chambers's Journal, journe)ed
from Edinburgh to Earlston by way of Soutra Hill, and
in his account of the "lions" he passed, he says, "As we



Online LibraryArchibald AllanHistory of Channelkirk → online text (page 48 of 50)