On mid nineteenth century ordnance survey maps of Tweedsmuir parish there are several draw wells shown, rather surprisingly they were shown adjacent to water ways.  One of these wells was at the source of the river Tweed – in fact the source of the river is still known as Tweedswell. 

There is also a Marchwell in the Fruid valley and a well at Forkfoots which is at the confluence of the Glenrusco and Westerhope burns. The reason for these wells must indicate that there was a severe drought at some time.  The records are not great on drought but they are on spates when bridges etc were carried away.  A good supply of water was very important for the watering of the very large flocks of sheep kept at the hill-farms in the area.

John Buchan in his early novel titled John Burnet of Barns mentions a drought in 1678 when  the Manor Water dried up and the river Tweed at Manor was just a trickle. If the Tweed at Manor was a trickle it would have been dried up in Tweedsmuir. Using a fictional novel to justify history is not good practice but John Buchan did a prodigious amount of research for his historical stories and of course he could call on his brother James Walter Buchan the author of the 3 volume History of Peeblesshire for assistance.

There was a the book published in 1911 titled Highways & Byways in the Border by Andrew and John Lang. The book included many fine illustrations of the Upper Tweed area by Hugh Thomson.   Mr Thomson was obliged to add a note at the beginning of the book - this reads  The artist wishes to call attention to the fact that his drawings were made during the long drought of 1911, when all the rivers were exceptionally low.

Assuming that there was a drought resulting in the river Tweed drying up it does suggest that Global Warming is not something new!


Tony Hope