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are descending from the tableland of the Lammermoors
(towards Lauderdale), the hills on each side apparently
become higher, although it is really the valley that is
getting deeper. This part of the road is said by tradition
to be the work of the Romans — it seems with some
truth, for in course of making the improvements sixty
years ago, portions of the original Roman pavement were
come upon." *

In Caledoniaf we have the following: — "From Eldon
the Roman Road went past Melrose, Galtonside, Chesterlee,
Waas or Walls, near to New Rlainslie. ... In proceeding
up Lauderdale, the Roman Road appears to have passed
on the west side of Lauder town, and between it and
Old Lauder, where there are the remains of a military
station. About a mile and a half above Lauder, the
remains of the Roman Road again become visible, and is
here named the Ox Road, as it leads up to a strong station
called Blackchester. From this station the Roman Road
passes on northwards by the west of Oxton, and in course
of half a mile again becomes distinct, and continues obvious
to every eye as it crosses the western stream of the Leader
in its course to the Roman station at Channelkirk. From
this commanding post the Roman Road proceeded forward
to Soutra Hill, whence, turning to the left, it traversed the
declivity of the country to Currie. . . ."

We give as much of his description as brings the subject
into and leads it out of this parish. General Roy also

* Chamberis Journal^ 28th April 1888.
t Vol. i., Book I., p. 141.


describes the Roman Road at an earlier date than Chalmers.
The latter comments on the former's view, and says : —

" From Eldon northward, General Roy, in tracing its
(Roman Road's) course, has completely mistaken its track
towards Soutra Hill. Without looking for the intimation
of others, he was misled by the appearance of the Girth-
gate, which passes from the bridge-end of Tweed up the
valley of Allan Water, across the Moors to Soutra Hospital
on Soutra Hill. This footway, without any examination
of its formation or materials, he mistook for the only
remains of this Roman Road, He forgot that Warburton,
the Surveyor and Antiquary, had rode upon the true road
in 1722, from the River Reed in Northumberland, by Jed"
burgh, Melrose, Lauder, Ginglekirk, now Channelkirk, to
Dalkeith, and to Graham's Dyke."* Chalmers says he caused
the road to be surveyed by Mr Kinghorn, who was, we
believe, teacher in Blainslie.

References to the "Royal Road" across Soutra Hill
are frequent in the old charters, as, for example, in the
Book of Dryburgk, about 11 70, — also in No. 28 of those
of the Domus de Soltre, we have boundaries of land
belonging to the Hospital at Soutra, given in such ex-
pressions as — " Et usque ad rivulum orientalem in Lynnesden,
et ab ipso rivulo orientali per viam que ducit ad regiam
viam tendentem versus Roxburgh," — " And as far as to
the east burn in Lindean, and from the said east burn
by the way which leads to the Royal Road going towards
Roxburgh." So, too, in No, 50 of these charters, we find
the " Regiam Stratam " existing in the same locality. We
have seen also in our account of Hartside, that these
lands were bounded by " Derestrete," somewhere on Soutra
* Caledonia^ vol. i., Book I., p. 141. Note ^.


Hill. Derestrete is also found near Oxton in connection
with Over Hovvden.* This Derestrete, the street or road
to Deira, the southern district of Northumbria, is used in
the same way as a land-boundary for property in Lauderdale
near Pilmuir, cir. 1220 A.D.f It is assumed to have been
the Roman Road, or identical with Watling Street. It
certainly ran through Lauderdale.

Reference is sometimes made in old documents to
" Malcolm's Road," as passing through Lauderdale. Chalmers
asserts that " Malcolm's Road " was also identical with
the Roman Road. " Malcolm's Road," he says, " was the
public street through Lauderdale, and was also the Roman
Road." \ He thinks it may have been so named from King
Malcolm IV., " who lived a good deal at Jedburgh, and
died there, and may have used it going to Edinburgh,
Stirling, and Perth." Watling Street, Derestrete, Roman
Road, Royal Road, Malcolm's Road, appear, therefore, to
have been various appellations for the same road at different
times and in different localities — the several names, indeed,
wandering sometimes over the same district.

Few, if any, genuine remnants of this old road of many
names appear to have survived in Lauderdale. There are,
of course, distinct traces of old roads leading through this
parish from the dale to Lothian, but it might be difficult
to affirm with any basis of certainty that these gave proof
of Roman origin. The general route frorrt Edinburgh
district to England was, for centuries, undoubtedly by Soutra
Hill and Lauderdale. The other available pass by way of
what is now known as the Waverley railway route, a few
miles to the west, was shunned owing to its marshy ground,

* Liber de Driburgh. ^ Jbid., No. 176.

+ Caledonia, vol. ii., p. 207. Note d, et passim.


the heavy ravines, and the marauding character of the
neighbourhood. The greater traffic over Soutra, therefore,
necessitated some kind of road building, and the particular
track in use seems to have been often altered. There is
thus a risk that what is merely a fragment of one of these
" old " roads, may be hastily assumed to be the " Roman "
Road. On Soutra Hill, and at Airhouse, for example, near
Channelkirk, there are fragments of road which at first
sight have been accepted by experienced observers as
genuine " bits " of Roman Road, but which on further ex-
amination and comparison were considered very doubtful. •

But there are ample proofs of an old road running north-
wards from the vicinity of Blackchester in Lauder parish,
passing through Channelkirk Parish via Oxton to Channel-
kirk Church, and thence over Soutra Hill, which suggests
possibilities. Its course from the neighbourhood of Black-
chester was near Shielfield, thence straight up the low
level ground which lies in the neighbourhood of Grassmyres,
near to Burnfoot, a park breadth to the east of the steading,
continuing straight to Oxton, through which it may have
passed over the same course as the present road. From
Oxton it passed north-westwards to Channelkirk Church,
and the track of its descent to Mountmill Burn, where
it created a ford, is still visible. The fields of Nether
Howden, through which it passes, give clear proof of its
existence in ploughing seasons, when the stony stream
through the rest of the dark land betrays its former course.
We are inclined to think that whether or not this was a
Roman Road, it may safely be called the old " Derestrete."
Our first hint is from the Kelso Chartulary.* About 1206
A.D., Alan, Lord Galway, gifted five carucates of Oxton
* Liber de Calchou^ No. 245, vol. i., p. 201.


territory to Kelso Abbey. These carucates subsequently
became the farms of Over Howden (Holdene), and probably
most of Nether Howden. The boundary thus begins :
" From the head of Holdene, down by Holdene Burn to
Derestrete "... Now the " burn " runs straight east-north-
east from Over Howden, down past Grassmyres (Kersmyres)
steading, now obliterated, to the lowest dip of the dale at
this part, a field-breadth east from the old " Grassmyres,"
and thence turns at right angles south-south-east. ■ This
turn of the water is close to the old road, still so evident.
But the boundary required to go «i?r//zwards, and not as
the burn went, .f^^^^wards ; so the description continues,
" From Derestrete towards the north to Fuleforde by Samson's
Marches to the Ledre." That is, from the " corner " of the
Holdene Burn at Derestrete, the march went on to a place
near the junction of the Mountmill Burn with the Kelphope
Water below Nether Howden, where was a ford, Foul-Ford
or Fuleford. From there the march continues to the village
of Oxton, where it again crosses *' Derestrete," and so to
Holdene (Over Howden), thus completing the marches.

What is here absolutely certain is that Derestrete lay
between Over Howden and the Leader. Next, it is absolutely
certain that Over Hoivden Burn touched Derestrete at some
point in its course. This point may have been between
Over Howden and " Grassmyres," or at " Grassmyres " where
the present road passes over the burn. But no trace of
a road answering the description is found between Over
Howden and Grassmyres, and the present road at Grass-
myres is modern, and the conclusion to which we are confined
is that the burn met Derestrete where it turns south-south-
east, and it is there the evidences of the old road through
the ploughed fields are yet so apparent. If our conclusion


is correct, and Derestrete was the Roman Road, then it did
not pass to the west of Oxton Village, as asserted by
Chalmers, but through the centre or immediate west end of
it, as the charters hint, and so continued its way near
to Parkfoot across the braes to Channelkirk Camp at the
Church, and thence over Soutra Hill.

Part of this road to the north of Airhouse Road was
used by Oxton people as a right-of-way to church from
the village as late as the end of last century. This, doubt-
less, was the part which Chalmers meant when he says,
" And in the course of half a mile " (northwards from Oxton)
" again becomes distinct, and continues obvious to every eye
as it crosses the western stream of the Leader in its course
to the Roman Station at Channelkirk." Of course, the
enormous industrial activity of this century in Upper Lauder-
dale renders it a matter of surprise that any glimpse of
such a road should have been left at all. But the evidences
of the road through Nether Howden fields are yet so glaring
in ploughing time that, to a man, farmers, shepherds, and
ploughmen attest the certainty of it. The " horrid " ploughs
know it too well, and when the shepherd has to use the
" borer " for the purpose of putting in a " stuckin " (stob), he
has a harder job before him at that place than at any other
over all the field. We have no doubt that it was the
old " Derestrete " mentioned in the Kelso Chartulary, but
whether " Derestrete " was Rotnan in construction is a point
we leave to others to decide. Derestrete, however, as can
be clearly attested by the charters noticed above, is his-
torically distinct on Soutra Hill, then near Oxton, then
at Over Howden Burn, and again at Pilmuir, a distance
of perhaps six miles, and thus is visible as going clear
through Channelkirk Parish, about 1 170-1220.


The writer went over this ground carefully with Mr
Robert Tait, one of our most intelligent working men, who
had no difficulty in showing the track of the old road
through the fields by the stream of stones which line its
entire distance. But its existence has never been doubted,
parts of it having been visible within the memory of the
present generation. Going south from Oxton Village, the
road almost imperceptibly tapers away from the present
one, near the top of a knoll, a field-breadth from the last
houses. Here the old boulder stones are quite visible beside
the modern macadamising ones. Mr Tait says he " ribbed,"
or cut it up at this part in mending the present road, and
the surface of the old road was all of fairly large boulder
stones. From here it diverges to the left into Nether
Howden fields, and runs straight as an arrow, south, towards
Shielfield. This, by tradition among the inhabitants, has
always been considered as the undoubted " Roman " Road.
It can hardly be doubted that it was Derestrete.

Gtrthgate, or Sanctuary Road. — The peculiar pathway
which runs through the western portion of the parish called
Gtrthgate is yet, in several parts of it, in excellent preserva-
tion, and where the land has not been ploughed up frequently,
is easily traceable. In some places it is broad enough to
admit a cart, at others it is a mere footpath. Tradition of
long standing freely asserts it to have been made by the
monks of old Melrose to facilitate their intercourse between
that chapel (capellam Sancti Cuthberti de Aldmelros) and
Soutra Hospital* The need of some intercommunication
towards the north was no doubt required by the possessions
held by these monks all through Lauderdale, Channelkirk,
and the Lothians. But the chief reason, and the one from
* Monastic Anna/s, p. 193. Edinburgh, 1832. Rev. James Morton, B.D.


which the road takes its name, is said to have been that of
Sanctuary or Girth. Stow and Soutra Hospital had this
privilege in olden times, where those who were compelled to
flee from vengeance found refuge and security under the
shield of the Church.

" Gif menslaers and robbours
Haue here gyrth and socours
They will drj'ue vs to scorne." *

Its general route seems to have been up the watershed
of the Allan Water, passing Stow on the top of the heights,
two miles to the east of that place, and running very near
the boundary of Lauder Parish on to Inchkeith Hill. It
comes into Channelkirk Parish at its south-west march,
near the head of the Wimple Burn, about iioo ft. above sea-
level. It touches CoUielaw Hill on its west side, lOO ft. below
its highest point, and then descends north-west to Threeburn-
ford. From this place it runs west along the parish boundary,
up Threeburnford Hill until it reaches the " Resting House,"
so-called, three-fourths of a mile from Clints steading. Its
course then lies northwards to Soutra Isle, crossing by the
east side of Hartside Hill.

Threeburnford we believe to have received its name
from the need of travellers by the Girthgate to cross the
three burns which meet at this place. The fact of three
burns meeting might, indeed, have been sufficient to create
the name Threeburns, but the Girthgate fords them, and
thus " ford " is added. In our account of Threeburnford, it
will be seen that, prior to this place-name, we consider it to
have been the Fulewidness or Futhewidenes of the charters.
The Girthgate is quite clearly marked at the cottar houses

* Life of St Cuthbert : Surtees Society, 1889, p. 149.


at this place, running up the hill on the west side of the
bounding dyke or wall to the old ruin called Resting House,
or Rushlaw House.

Resting House. — In 1794 this curious building, 1243 ft.
above sea-level, was called Reshlaw or Restlaw Ha' or House.
It is conjecturable that the hill or law was originally called
by a name approaching in sound to rush^ ruch, or resh, and
when the present structure was built on it, the addition of
Ha' or House was then added. The Ordnance Survey Maps
call it Resting House. This name has been ostensibly
derived from the popular belief that there the Melrose monks
rested on their way to and from their abbey. It is now a
ruin. Portions of the walls, arched roof, and foundations of
other walls overgrown with grass are still intact. From their
prominence on the landscape they are visible from a great
distance. Nothing notable has been found at the place.

Holy Water Clench. — In 1588 "the Halywattercleuch "
is mentioned as the western boundary of the " Sucken " of
the mill of Ugston.* It is situated south-west of the church
at a distance of a quarter mile. It is a long cleft in the face
of the hill-ridge on which the church is placed, and must have
been made by the spring of water which still runs through
it. At the top of the cleuch, its depth and breadth are
respectively 30 and 60 ft. As it descends to Mountmill Burn,
(" Arras Water ") it gradually becomes shallower, until it
loses itself in the level of the haugh. Its length is approxi-
mately 600 yards running south-east. There can be no
doubt that the water of the cleuch was in ancient times
associated with religious rites, and it may possibly have
been used by St Cuthbert himself in baptizing his converts.
As it is the nearest natural water spring to the church, the

* Great Seal.


f'iM 1

Mi i



"holy" water used in its ancient Roman Catholic services
would no doubt be found there. There is no tradition that
it was ever used as a place of cures. It is locally known as
" the well of the Holy Water Cleuch."

Stone Cross at Midbum. — This farm is near to the " Black-
chester " camp which lies in Lauder Parish, to the south of it
a quarter mile, on a prominent height. The camp is well
preserved, covered with wood, and is of the usual construction
and dimensions of oval or " British ' camps. It is said to
have been " used " by the Romans as a defensive post.

Near the steading of Midburn is to be seen a heavy
cross of sandstone which has evoked much speculation
among the natives. It is in the ordinary Latin form, but
tapering to the top and towards the ends of the arms. There
is no inscription. It is 4 ft. 2 in. in length, and i ft.
4 in, across the arms. It is 8 in. thick. Part of the right
arm is broken off. It is said to have originally stood in one
of Shielfield fields, but was brought to Midburn by one of
the tenants there. It seems to have no special signifi-
cance, except that it may have been used as one of
the march or boundary-crosses to which there are frequent
allusions in the charters of the religious chroniclers.
Both Shielfield and Midburn Farms are on the boundary of
the two parishes of Lauder and Channelkirk, and, moreover,
Shielfield land was at one time in the hands of the Dryburgh
Abbots, and a cross to mark a boundary in that locality is
not a matter of surprise. Such crosses are noticed in the
Dryburgh Chartulary as having stood near Pilmuir, and in
Kelso Chartulary as standing near Oxton and Over Howden.
These are referred to as landmarks or boundary guides.
Presumably, in the absence of clearer knowledge, this stone


cross of Midburn is one of the same kind. It may be, in that
case, as old as the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries.

Memorial Stone at Threeburnford. — A stone of some
interest is built into the front wall of the stables at this
place which, though it may not be an "antiquity," is
venerable enough to be inserted among the relics of the
parish which convey " a tale of the days of old." It is in
the .shape of a horse-shoe, with the arch at the top and the
open part resting on a flat band at the foot. Part of the
top of the stone is worn or broken off, as the block has been
removed to different parts of the farm during its existence,
and has had adventures. On the legs of the "shoe" are
two inscriptions. When facing the stone, that on the left
hand reads, "Behold a sower went forth to sow, Matt. 13
and 3. One soweth and another reapeth ; " and that on the
right reads, " Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in
mercy, Hosea 10 and 12." In the central space is the
worn figure of a man with a sowing sheet. On the right-
hand corner of the flat-band or plinth, at the foot, there
has been a date, but it is now too much obliterated to be
discernable. Some have affirmed it to be 1734, but others,
with more likelihood, believe it to be far older. The legend
connected with it is religious, of course, and characteristically
Scotch, in that it sets forth the profanity of working on
Sabbath. The farmer of Threeburnford, at some remote
date (days and names all being rubbed out for ever), was
anxious to sow his pease, and taking advantage of a fine
Sabbath morning suitable for his purpose, "went forth to
sow," sorely against the will and warnings of his "better
half" He persisted, however, and sowed his field, though
not " in righteousnes.s." And, as a consequence, the judgment


fell in the usual fier)- form. A thunderstorm swept across
the moors in wrath, " cramming all the blast before it ; in
its breast the thunderbolt," which slew at one fell blow the
poor over-busy farmer. And so, what he sowed another

There is no reason to doubt the tradition. It is enamelled
into the local folklore, and it is here verified in stone. The
stone is evidently a memorial one, similar to many which
were set up in all the " kirkyairds " of the country at one
time. But the stone, homely in its sculpture, and carefully
hewn, we may be sure, on the steading, during many earnest
hours, could not be set up in the churchyard, for obvious
reasons. The farmer could not be buried there. It would
have been sacrilege; and more so, if the stone points to a
period before the Reformation, which it reasonably enough
may. He was accursed of God. No consecrated ground
could tolerate his corpse. He would consequently be buried
where they found him, or about the steading somewhere.
The stone would originally be set up over his remains, and
during the changes of building on the farm it would also
change its locality with them. The " preaching " of the
stone bears strong confirmation of the truth of the legend.
The texts, or part texts, have been carefully .selected to
emphasise the di.saster. " Behold a sower went forth to
sow" is the latter part of Matthew xiii. 3; while "one
soweth and another reapeth " is the latter part of John iv.
37. The legend could not possibly have a more weighty
comment, while the words " Sow to yourselves in righteous-
ness, reap in mercy," from Hosea x. 12, first clause, prove
the long search that had been undertaken to find words
appropriate enough to clinch the terrible facts. For the
farmer had not sown in righteousness, and reaped far other


Berwickshire, and the boundaries of parish and county are

for a considerable distance identical.

The population in 1755 numbered 531
„ 1794 „ 600

„ 1 80 1 „ 640

„ 181 1 „ 707

„ 1821 „ 730

„ 1831 „ 841

1841 „ 780
„ 1861 „ 641

„ 1881 „ 607

1891 „ 545
A steady decrease has taken place, it will be seen, since 1831.

With the advent of the railway it is to be hoped that the
drain upon the population will cease, seeing that there will
be more employment, and farmers may be induced, perhaps,
to occupy all the farms instead of putting them under
stewards and staying themselves elsewhere.

The chief industry of the parish is sheep-breeding.
Some farms keep from 70 to 80 score, while others may
have but ICXD to 200 sheep. The species called "Cheviot,"
" Leicester," " Half-breds " are most common, but those farms
with extensive hill pasture, such as Hillhouse, Glengelt, and
Kirktonhill, stock a considerable number of blackfaces or
" Lammermuirs." Sheep of the black-faced type have grazed
Channelkirk fields and fells, to all appearance, from time
immemorial. Naismith of Hamilton, in 1796, states that
there is no tradition that the sheep of the Lammermoors
were ever other than blackfaces. In the raid of Glengelt, about
1490 A.D., 240 *'yowis," 40 wedders, and 80 hoggs were forcibly
taken away. The species, however, is not given, although
there is little doubt that it would be " black-faced," as accord-
ing to the best authorities it is the oldest variety known
in Great Britain, and there was no other kind in this parish


till last century. The "Cheviot" species were introduced
into this parish by Robert Hogarth, tenant in Carfrae.
Coming from East Berwickshire about 1770, he instituted
many improvements which have been highly beneficial.
The turnip, which is now the staple food of sheep, was
unknown till he brought it here; and he also initiated the
use of lime, and the sown grass system. The turnip was
in 1794 of wider benefit than it is now, for it is recorded
that it then "constituted fully half of the food of our
cottagers." About i860, which was a severe season on
hill flocks, " Cheviots " again declined in favour. Great
improvements have recently been accomplished in the
quality of blackfaces, and this has been due mainly to
such breeders as Archibald, Overshiels, late of Glengelt ;
Howatson, Glenbuck ; Foyer, sometime of Knowhead ;
Welsh, Earlshaugh ; and other less well-known names.

It is well said that it is the soil that makes the sheep, the
plant being the link between the living animal and the dead
earth. Upper Lauderdale is, in general, very fertile, and
seldom later than other districts which have a less elevated
exposure. This is chiefly due to the red sandstone soil which
fills its main basin, and the branching glens running up into
the hills. Sheep, it is found, thrive well on almost every kind
of soil, but on some they decline in quality quicker than
on others. Clay soil is detrimental to the blackfaces, though

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