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PENNYCUICK - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]
"PENNYCUICK, (or Penicuick), a parish and burgh of barony in the county of Edinburgh, Scotland, 9 miles N.E. of Linton, and 10 S. of Edinburgh. The Peebles railway has stations at Penicuick and Leadburn. This parish, which is 10 miles in length from S.E. to N.W., and 6 broad, contains, besides the post-office village of its own name, the villages of Howgate and Kirkhill. It consists of the greater part of the old parish of Pennycuick, with the whole of the ancient parish of Mount Lothian, lying to the S.E. It is bounded by Peeblesshire, and by the parishes of Collington, Currie, Glencross, Kirknewton, and Lasswade, from which it is separated on the southern and western borders by the North Esk, and on the south-eastern by the South Esk.

The north-western part of the parish is wholly occupied by the Pentland hills, which at the highest summits attain an elevation of about 1,600 feet, but the south-western part is more genial, and includes the Glen of the North Esk. The surface is chiefly moorland, with moss and mountain pasture, but a considerable portion has recently been reclaimed. About 8,400 acres are in tillage, 1,000 under wood, and the remaining 11,600 mountain, pasture, or waste. The rocks are chiefly clay, porphyry, sandstone, and limestone, in some places overlaid with diluvial deposits.

Coal abounds, but is not extensively worked, being much intermixed with trap veins, except at Brunstane colliery; iron ore also occurs in beds and veins, and traces of lead are met with. There are numerous springs, some possessing medicinal or petrifying properties. Sir George Clerk, Bart., of Penicuick House, is chief heritor, but there are three other principal and nine smaller landowners in the parish.

The village, anciently spelled Penicok, or Pen-y-coc, signifying "the Cuckoo's hill", stands on the left bank of the river North Esk, and on the direct road from Edinburgh to Dumfries. It consists mainly of one principal street, running in a north-easterly direction, with a small suburb on the other side of the river in the parish of Lasswade. It is well built, containing many spacious modern houses and good shops. It has a branch office of the Edinburgh and Glasgow banks, a station of the Edinburgh county police, savings-bank, library, gasworks, and several friendly societies.

The large building situated to the N. of the village was erected at the close of the last century by government for cavalry barracks, but was converted in 1831 into an iron foundry. The inhabitants are partly engaged in the paper, gunpowder, and saw mills, and some in the collieries and stone-quarries, besides weavers. In the grounds of Valleyfield, marking the spot where upwards of 300 French prisoners of war were interred, is a monument with the inscription, "Grata quies patris sed et omnis terra sepulchrum".

The parish is traversed by three principal lines of road to Dumfries, Peebles, and Biggar, and for a short distance by the Peebles railway. This parish is in the presbytery of Dalkeith, in the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. The minister has a stipend of £158 6s. 8d., besides a glebe valued at £16. The church, situated in the village of Pennycuick, was built in 1771. It is a Grecian structure, with a tetrastyle portico of the Doric order, bearing the Hebrew inscription "Bethel" and surmounted by a stone cross. There are also a Free church, an United Presbyterian church at Howgate, erected in 1856, another Presbyterian church, situated at Bridgend, and about seven non-parochial schools.

The principal seat is Pennycuick House, a mansion with Grecian portico of eight columns, built in 1761 by Sir J. Clerk, Bart., and surrounded by a wooded park. It contains Ossian's Hall, with a ceiling painted by Runciman, a good library, many paintings, and a museum of Roman and miscellaneous antiquities, including the buff coat worn by Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, at the battle of Killiecrankie, where he received his death wound.

In the grounds are various objects of interest, including a model of the celebrated Roman temple on the Carron, called Arthur's Oven, an obelisk raised by Sir James Clerk to the memory of Allan Ramsay, the scene of whose "Gentle Shepherd" is laid at "Habbie Howe", in this neighbourhood; the old tower of Terregles, the original seat of the ancient proprietor of the parish; and on the margin of the Esk the subterranean passage called Hurlycave, about 147 feet long and 7 high, with a cell in the middle cut out of the solid rock in 1742. Newhall, another seat on the Monksburn, near the Howe and Harbour Craig, is scarcely of less interest.

There are numerous ruins, as Ravensnook, once the seat of Oliver Sinclair, brother to the laird of Roslin, who was taken prisoner at the battle of Solway-Moss; Brunstane, the old seat of the Crichtons, built in 1568, but now an extensive ruin; Logan House, once a hunting seat of the Scottish kings in Glencorse, near Houlet's House, where the match between the hounds of the royal Bruce and those of Sinclair of Roslin occurred; and on the summit of the pass over the Pentland hills, on Cross Sword Point, is the stump of an ancient cross. Fairs are held on the third Friday in March and the first Friday in October.

"BRUNSTANE, a village in the parish of Pennycuick, in the county of Edinburgh, Scotland, 2 miles from Pennycuick. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in the neighbouring coal-works."

"HOWGATE, a village in the parish of Pennycuick, county Edinburgh, Scotland, 10 miles S. of Edinburgh. Here stands an United Presbyterian church."

"KIRKHILL, a village in the parish of Pennycuick, county Edinburgh, Scotland. It is situated near the village of Penicuick, on the river North Esk. Its inhabitants are principally employed in weaving and paper making."

"LEADBURN, a railway station on the Edinburgh and Innerleithen section of the North British railway in the parish of Pennycuick, county of Midlothian, 1½ mile from Pennycuick."

"NEWHALL, a seat in the parish of Pennycuick, county Edinburgh, Scotland, 12 miles S. by E. of Edinburgh. It is situated on the river North Esk, under the Pentland hills, and near the borders of Peebleshire. It formerly belonged to the Crichton and Pennycuick families, and is celebrated in story as the scene of Ramsay's "Gentle Shepherd". There are also numerous private residences of this name in all parts of England, and in several counties of Scotland."

"NINE-MILE-BURN, a village in the parish of Pennycuick, county Edinburgh, Scotland, 3 miles S.W. of Pennycuick. It is situated on the new road from Edinburgh to Dumfries."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]


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