The Armstrong Companion to his maps of 1775 list the farms in Tweedsmuir Parish. ( In 18th century printing the small letter s looks like a  small f).  Some of these farms still exist, others have disappeared but the names survive and some have vanished without trace.  I am researching three of the latter at present.

ArmstrongCompanion.jpg

Part of the Armstrong Map showing the Tweedsmuir Farms can be found in the Picture Gallery - Glenrusco and Forkfoots.

 

Half Mile House.

On the map the farm is named named Half Way House and not Half Mile House as indicated in the Companion!   Exactly where this was located is unclear.   Half mile or half way from where?  The Crook Inn perhaps?  It is unfortunate that Armstrong has appeared to have made another error in the location of the ruins of Oliver Castle which he has put just south of the Crook Inn which has possibly moved the location on the map of Half Mile/Way House.   This error is surprising as Armstrong has put in the very distinctive feature of that right angle kink in the River Tweed where the river and road come together just north of the present day house of Glenveg.

I have not been able to find any other references to Half Mile/Way House in the records apart from that of Armstrong.  It is possible that Armstrong himself applied that name to a nameless structure?   But where was this structure - was this the site of the present day Glenveg or possibly more likely the Town Council road maintenance area/layby which is situated south of Greenbraes?   Half Way House sounds attractive as being half way between the two Inns of the Crook and the Bield!

 

Forkfoots

Forkfoots is at the confluence of the Westerhope and Glenrusco burns. The site can be found on some maps, just to the right of Cockieland Hill. The the forestry road crosses the Glenrusco burn by a wooden bridge north of Forkfoots. See Picture Gallery - Glenrusco and Forkfoots.

Armstrong's map of 1775 is the earliest map to show Forkfoots but it must have existed before that date.  It is again shown on the 1821 maps but by 1856 it is shown as "ruins".   The 1856 map, the first to show contours, indicates that the site covered a considerable area and there were several buildings/enclosures including two circular stells (sheep enclosures) and the site of a draw well.   There is still evidence on  the ground despite afforestation of the farm site - the two stells are in a remarkable state of preservation indicating that they were probably still used after the decline of the actual farm.  If you know that it is there you can see by different colour of vegetation etc where the draw well was sited and that there had been  a circular wall around it.

In the records a Samuel Anderson died at Forkfoots on 23rd May 1789.   Forkfoots also appears in the Tweedsmuir church records where it is recorded that between 1809 and 1819 three children were born to John Murray. a shepherd in Forkfoots, and his wife Isabel Jackson.    The earliest census for Scotland was in 1841 and Forkfoots does not appear there indicating that the site was not inhabited at  that date.

 

Blairsheep

Blairsheep was in the Fruid valley as shown on Armstrong's map of 1775 and on his list of farms above it is shown next to Fruid.   This is an unusual name for the Borders.   Blair meaning an open space is usually found in the north - hence the name here was probably imported from that area.  The following I found in the records concerning James Hunter of Polmood may give the answer. " He was a Cameronian and attended the field meetings, that during the persecution he had to leave Tweedsmuir, that he lived then in a place called Shank and afterwards returned to Tweedsmuir, where he built himself a house between Carterhope and Fruid and died there in 1721."  This house must surely have been Blairsheep.  

Following on from that as James Hunter died in Tweedsmuir in 1721 one would have thought that his death and perhaps burial would have been recorded in the Tweedsmuir Church records, particularly as he had been a Covenanter. However this is not the case and there is no existing headstone in the Kirkyard.   One explanation is that there was the remains of a chapel and also a burial ground, recorded by Armstrong, in the Fruid valley near Hawkshaws.  It is probable that this burial ground was used even though the chapel was in ruins and that James Hunter and other residents of the Fruid valley were buried there. Possibly even Frasers and members of the Porteous family were also buried there.   Where exactly the chapel and burial ground were located is not recorded and no evidence could be found during the Royal Commission survey of 1958 - the site is probably now under the waters of the Fruid rerservoir.   There is a Chapel Burn near Hawkshaws and also a Priesthope Burn near Carterhope either of which could have had an association with the chapel.     

 

Tony Hope