TWEEDSMUIR PARISH HISTORY.

2.1.  Devastation of Archaeological Sites.                   

                             . 

                 A landscape etched by our ancestors,

            erased by agriculture and industrial progress

This page draws in sections from various pages of this website which have included this subject.   Images and references remain on the parent page.   Items are not in chronological order.

2.1.a.  Tweedsmuir Standing Stones and Associated Cairn.

The first recorded evidence of destruction of archaeology sites is that concerning the Tweedsmuir Standing Stones and the associated cairn - see section 3.1. of Standing Stones page. 

George Chalmers writing in 1810 described them in his Caledonia: or an Account, Historical and Topographical of North Britain where he stated that "Near Tweedsmuir Church, there is the remains of a druid oratory, consisting of several large stones, which are placed upright in a circular form.   The tradition of the country  states, that the small eminence which is called the Quarter Knowe, and on which stands Tweedsmuir Church, was anciently a place of druid worship." 

And in the second Statistical Account for Scotland of 1834 the Rev. George Burns D.D. writing in the Tweedsmuir section noted the following "On the opposite side of the Tweed, and close by the road leading from the church to Menzion House, there are the remains of a Druidical temple or Pictish court of justice.   Only one stone is left of a number similar in appearance and size which stood together, and which have been removed for the purpose of dike-building, etc.   It is called the Standing-stone, and is five feet above the surface of the earth".

From examination of the various maps it would appear that the actual number of stones forming the circle would appear to have been six.   The clinching evidence is from Wm. Balackadders 1821 survey of the Tweedsmuir and Meggat estates.

The destruction of five of the six 5ft Standing Stones for the purpose of dyke building does seem scandalous.  I suppose we should be grateful that they left one to indicate where the site was!

However, that was not the end of the wanton destruction of what should have been a significant feature on the Tweedsmuir landscape.

During the construction of the Fruid Reservoir and associated aquaduct work 1950-1968 the trackway that passed through the Standing Stones was upgraded from a track to a road to take construction site vehicles.   This work involved the raising of the trackway by several feet leaving the remaining Standing Stone at a height of approximately two feet.  

The material for this upgrade would appear to include stones from a nearby Cairn - see below.  This is not the cairn directly associated with the Standing Stone site that is devasted from what would appear to be  from natural erosion but there could also have been some stone robbing.

2.1.b. Cairn Tweedsmuir.

See section 2.k. of  Early Peoples page. 

When surveyed in 1963 by the RCAHMS the cairn was 30 feet in diameter and at a height of 1ft 3inches.   However, by the millennium when the writer looked for the site it was found to be completely flat and overgrown with grass - the cairn was long gone.   The stones must have formed the foundation of the upgraded road through the near by Standing Stone site.  It is possible that this cairn had some association with the Standing Stone cairn site hence we should perhaps be paying more attention to the significance and importance of these cairns?

2.1.c.  Talla Reservoir.

See page 18. Talla Reservoir and Railway.

The Talla Reservoir was constructed during the period 1895-1905.   For a sobering view of the damage caused by this construction see the Talla Reservoir page of the Biggar Archaeolgy Group website www.biggararchaeologygroup.org where it states that it is reasonable to assume that many other features maybe have been destroyed without record during the quarrying operations and that the size and significance of what is still a major ritual landscape of Bronze Age activity would have been greater.   It is a sobering thought that up to 33% of the archaeology landscape at Talla may have been obliterated.

Just outside the Talla Reservoir area are many platform sites that are part of the ritual landscape of Bronze Age activity that are now in danger of damage from deforestation. 

The construction of the reservoir may also have destroyed the site of Tallashiels , the mediaeval summer residence of the Frasers and later of the Hays - see page 17 -Hay Family of Talla.

 

2.1.d. Afforstation/Deforestation.

See sections 2.b. and 2.f. on page 2. Early Peoples.

It is estimated that over one hundred sites have been damaged or even destroyed by modern afforestation in the area .  This was initally due to the method of planting used in the early seventies when the land was ploughed with furrows two to three feet deep. However many of the trees were planted too close to heritage sites and the deforestation process will cause more damage unless extreme care is taken in this process.   Examples of this are the proximity of tree planting beside sheep stells, in one case inside the stell, see page 10 Forkfoots Farm - Site of.   Stells may seem insignificant but they are a relic of the previous extensive hill sheep farming industry in the valley.  

A recent further disadvantage of afforestation has come to light.   Long dry spells such as during June/July 2018 give the opportunity of aerial photographs of crop marks that indicate possible ancient forts etc.  Obviously afforestation prevents this.

 

2.1.e.   Fruid Reservoir.

see page Frasers of Fruid Castle

Apart from the Standing Stones mentioned above the flooding of the Fruid reservoir in the nineteen sixties not only submerged three farms but also the important sites of Fruid Castle of the Frasers and also of the Fruid Chapel and burial ground site.  The burial ground is important as many Frasers would have been interred there.   As mentioned on the Frasers of Fruid Castle page I feel that a small monument with interpretation board be erected in the area.  Part of the route of the Pilgrims Way through the Fruid valley was also flooded.

2.1.f.  Ruins of Polmood

see page 25.2. Polmood

 The Hunter family that had owned the lands of Polmood since early times sold the property in 1864 to Warren Mitchell.   The lands included the ruins of an old ediface which had been the seat of the Hunters of Polmood until about 1700.   These ancient ruins had not been touched for well over a century.   However Mr. Mitchell who obviously had no interest in Scottish history/archaeology demolished the ruins in an act of sheer wanton vandalism  and built a very nice house on the site c1887.

To be fair to Mr. Mitchell he would have known, and probably took encouragement, from the fact that in 1874 what appeared to be a serviceable church in Tweedsmuir was demolished.  This church was redolent in covenanting heritage and lore.   A new church was built on the site which turned out to be a pleasing and much admired building. 

2.1.g.   Menzion Standing Stones.

see page 2.  Early Peoples

These two Standing Stones stood on either side of the Fruid road near to Menzion.   However they now lie forlornly in the long grass.   Nearby are the foundations of large huts which were part of the construction site for the Fruid-Menzion-Talla aquaduct in the fifties.   This construction site was undoubtedly responsible for discarding the Standing Stones that must have been in the way. 

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