number of charters for Holm Cultram Abbey in Cumberland
relate to what is now the parish of Kirkgunzeon and
to Kirkconnell and Mabie on the west side of the Nith,
south of Dumfries.
Holm Cultram Abbey was
founded in 1150 by Cistercian monks from Melrose under
a grant of Alan Waldeve and confirmed by Henry, son
of David I. At the time the area was under Scottish
control although the links with Scotland and Melrose
were gradually lost during the Wars of Independence
until eventually it effectively became an English abbey.
Reflecting this early
history, it had some possessions in south-west Scotland
and these are detailed in its cartulary, namely in Kirkgunzeon,
Kirkconnell, Mabie and Dumfries.
|Near Kirkbean looking over towards
Although quite distant
from these possessions by land (e.g. some 50 miles in
the case of Kirkgunzeon) it was only some 6 or 8 miles
across the Solway from where these places could easily
be reached. Indeed, the charters grant rights of landing
on the shore.
The charters have been
fully dealt with by Francis Grainger and W G Collingwood
Charters and Other Records of the Important Cistercian
House of Holm Cultram (Cumberland and Westmoreland
Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Record Series,
7) and can be viewed on the British History Online
website, to which links are provided below.Kirkgunzeon
(with rights of way in Kirkconnell and Mabie)
Several charters relate to this area. From our
point of view there are interesting references to a
road as well as landing rights on the shore and rights
of way to the grange
Various charters (nos.
121-124) refer to a road from the bridge at Polatkertin
that ran to Litegilultan (also called Crosgile Ultan/Lechtigilulty)
and then as far as a crossed oak near Cloenchonechro
(also Cloen kone cro).
R C Reid, who did extensive work on charters relating
to Dumfries and Galloway, has identified many of the
placenames in the Kirkgunzeon charters and, more generally,
considered that they define the boundaries of the parish
(see The Early Ecclesiastical History of Kirkgunzeon,
Transactions of the Dumfries and Galloway Natural History
and Archaeological Society, Series 3, Volume 14, page
He identifies Polatkertin
as Culloch Burn at Carton Bridge and Cloenchonechro
as Barbey. The parish boundary runs directly between
these two places and early maps show a road along this
line (see NLS
maps). There is an interesting Upper and Nether
Casway (i.e. causeway) on older maps near Barbey but
it is not clear if these refer to this road or to that
running north from Kirkgunzeon to Milton.
|Looking east towards the fort
near Barbey - the road passed along the foot of
Reid notes that the road
continued north of Barbey beneath a dyke though it was
not particularly obvious - certainly the parish boundary
continues the alignment for a further mile before veering
to the east towards Beeswing. Reid traced it as far
as Lawston Farm. The fort that it passes (Camp Hill)
is marked on the old 6" map as a Roman camp, though
it is more likely to be Bronze Age and just possibly
had been used in mediaeval times (see NMRS record NX16NE
1.01).Any extension south of Carton Bridge is unconvincing
on early maps although the presence of a bridge over
even a small stream has to be fairly significant.
Rights of Way
(Kirkgunzeon), the abbey is allowed a saltworks in Lochendelo
and other rights in the wood of Preston and in Lochildela
as far as Pollesteresheved. There was also a right of
way between landing places on the coast and the grange
for men, cattle, carts and pack horses.
Charter 128 (Kirkgunzeon-link
as for 121) refers to a grant of a saltwork in Salterness
and a fishery between Polben and Suithayc and some pasture,
with rights of way to the grange at Kirkgunzeon.Charter.
140 (Kirkgunzeon-link as for 121) is a Royal charter
giving the monks leave to carry wool and merchandise
throughout the kingdom.
|Looking towards the Colvend
coast, from near Southwick
Charter 140a (Kirkgunzeon-link
as for 121) confirmed the grant of a saltworks in Culwene
and easements between the port of Hur to Polsturshevid,
and associated rights of way.
(Kirkconnell) granted a ploughed field in Kirkconnell
called Mustardgarth and whatever the monks could reclaim
from the sea, with rights of way for carts etc.
(Kirkconnell) is the grant of a fishery on the Nith
between the burn descending from Kirkconnell and Pollesterheved
(probably east of New Abbey at confluence of New Abbey
Pow and Nith), with rights of way.
Charter 150 (Kirkconnell-link
as for 149) mentions a quarry and a right of way from
landing places on the Nith to Mabie.
Most of the placenames are identified in Grainger and
Collingwood and in George Neilson's paper Annals
of the Solway (see map at top and sections 19 &
22) that was published by the Glasgow Archaeological
Society in 1896.
Lochendelo is thought
to have been Loch Kinder just south of New Abbey though
the saltworks would have been on the coast. Pollesteresheved
is the promontory formed by the Nith and the New Abbey
Pow just east of New Abbey. Preston is a now abandoned
village neat Southerness (Salterness). Polben is unidentified
but Suithayc is Southwick, 3 miles WNW of Southerness
and Culwene is Colvend, 5 miles south of Dalbeattie
(NX8654). Finally the port of Hur was a landing place
somewhere in Rough Firth.
Interesting as these
references are they are not detailed enough to identify
the specific routes developed as rights of way, except
in the most general sense.
Charter 128 with its saltworks
in Southerness and the fishery near Southwick suggests
a direct route (followed by modern roads) to the north-west
for some 6 miles then turning directly north for 3 miles
to Kirkgunzeon itself. Alternatively, a slightly more
direct route could have been taken up the Drumcow Burn
over to Glaisters Burn. One other possibility is that
as Derek Hall in Scottish Monastic Landscapes, pps.172-173
(Tempus 2006) has suggested, the farm of Fairgirth (NX
878 565) may have been used as a base for the saltworks
which would place the route from the coast, possibly at
Saltpan Rocks (it is not certain that these were Holm
Cultram's though they may be those referred to in charter
140a for Colvend) past Fairgirth to the first route or
The right of way in charter
121 from landing places on the coast and Kirkgunzeon
could fit any of the above routes. That from the port
of Hur however would fit a route through Dalbeattie
The charters relating
to Kirkconnell and Mabie are more suggestive of local
rights of way although the right of way from landing
places on the Nith to Mabie would allow Kirkgunzeon
to be easily reached.
Finally there is a mention
in charter 154 for Mabie of a path near the house of
Gilliker but this has not been identified.