TWEEDSMUIR PARISH HISTORY,

Ericstanebrae.

The O.S. map on the left shows the valley known as The Devil's Beeftub just north of the town of Moffat in Dumfriesshire.  The boundary between Tweedsmuir Parish and Moffat Parish crosses the map at the very top of the page.   To the west of the Beeftub is the A701 road, shown in orange.   The road makes a large kink as it passess to the east of Ericstane Hill.   Just to the north of this I have shown a layby on the road that I have named the Ericstanebrae layby.   The layby is on a short stretch of the A701 that lies on the exact route of the Old Edinburgh Road.   North of the layby the A701 veers to the west of the Old Edinburgh Road.   The latter is shown as a dotted line beside the O of Old.  This section of the old road was surveyed by the RCAHMS in their survey of Peeblesshire in 1958 (4).  Similarly south of the layby the A701 veers to the east and passes to the east of Ericstane Hill.   The old road passing to the west of the hill.  The layby being on the site of the old road is therefore in a very special location - image below.  If one has a bit of imagination the ruts of the old road, in the form of crop marks, can be discerned to the left of the interpretation board!

 

The white square on the image of the layby is an Interpretation Board on the eastern section of the  King Robert the Bruce Trail that covers Dumfries and Galloway - image on right.  This marks the spot (1) where Robert the Bruce, the future King, met for the first time the Good Sir James Douglas, who was to become his life long friend and comrade in arms.   This was in early 1306 shortly after Robert had murdered the Red Comyn in Greyfriars Kirk in Dumfries on 06-02-1306.   Bruce was now on his way to Scone to be crowned before a Papal Bull would undoubtedly arrive from Rome excommunicating him for the murder of the Red Comyn.

The naming of a nearby hill The Crown of Scotland is thought by some was so named to commemorate this event.   More about this on the Crown of Scotland page.

A further trail is the annandaleway a walkway from the Solway Firth to the source of the river Annan at the Devil's Beeftub.   At the beeftub the walkway follows part of the Old Edinburgh Road that passes the Ericstanebrae layby. 

A new trail is the Merlin trail(2) fom Moffat to Drumelzier/Stobo via Tweedsmuir that passes this layby.   For more about Merlin see the Merlin Caledonius page. 

A coast to coast cycle route from the Solway Firth to Edinburgh on the Firth of Forth is planned (3).   This route will also pass the layby and will include Tweedsmuir. 

An incident happened at this exact spot that gives it the name of McLaren's Leap.   In the aftermath of the 1745 Jocobite rebellion a captured Jacobite was a Captain Donald Mclaren of Balquidder.    Mclaren was being taken to Carlisle in England for trial and probable execution.   He was escorted by a detachment of troops of King George II who were commonly known as redcoats.   When the troop reached this spot Mclaren evaded his captors wrapped himself in his plaid and leaped over the edge into the Beeftub and rolled down the steep and extensive slope to safety.   For more about this story and the connection to the Crook Inn see McLaren's Leap page.

On the hillside directly opposite the layby can be found the Martyr's Stone.   This is the spot that John Hunter, the Covenanter was shot dead by dragoons in 1685 during the Killing Time.   There is a memorial stone commemorating this event a short distance south of the layby at a viewpoint and is marked as Monument on the above map.  John Hunter is buried in Tweedsmuir Kirkyard.   For more about John Hunter and the Covenanters see the Covenanters in Tweedsmuir page.  For more about the Martyr's Stone see section on the Standing Stone Features page.

c1787 a part of a golden fibula - roman brooch -was found nearby.   It is in the Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art where it is calalogued as the Ericstanebrae Fibula.   A replica was made and can be seen in the Moffat Museum.   For more about the fibula see  Romans in Upper Tweed page.

Just below the layby is the source of the River Annan.   For more about this and the nearby sources of the rivers Tweed and Clyde see page Annan, Tweed and Clyde rise out of same hillside.

Nearby, north of the layby can be found the interesting sites of the Postie Stone, Tweeds Cross and the hill known as The Crown of Scotland.

Corhead farm covers the land below the layby.   This was the farm house that John Hunter was leaving when he was killed.   The farm has now ben purchased by the Borders Woodland Trust and they have planted a wildwood on part of the farm -   https://bordersforesttrust.org/places/wild-heart/corehead-devils-beef-tub/   The BWT also have large wildwoods at Carrifran and at Gameshope/Talla.   The latter, the newest of the wildwoods,  is in Tweedsmuir Parish.

On travelling north from the layby one is soon presented with an amazing panoramic vista of the Clyde Windfarm.   Although the majority of the farm is in South Lanarkshire the three most easterly pylons are in fact in Tweedsmuir Parish.    The pylons are located just south of the Glenwhappen Bronze Age complex.  For more about Glenwhappen see section 2.m. of the Early Peoples page. 

  

References.

1) Barbour, John, Tranlation by A.A.M. Duncan; The Bruce, Cannongate 2007. p87.

2)  Crichton, Robin; On the Trail of Merlin in a Dark Age, Edinburgh Film Production, Edinburgh, 2017. p15.

3)  Gray, David & Grimshaw, John; Upper Tweed Railway Path Project, 2013. Annx 2 p44.

4)  Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland; Inventory for Peeblesshire, HMSO, Edinburgh, 1967.   Old roads at the head of the Tweed Valley, Vol II, No 652, p352 - footnote 1.

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