This is Carruthers country.
They were lording it here from the fourteenth century, with a reputation for cross-border raiding, a predisposition that finally brought the Mouswald branch of the family to an end when Simon Carruthers was killed in action in 1548.
There are fragments of the Curruthers’ fifteenth-century castle within the grounds of the house known as Mouswald Place.
An earlier occupation of the area, in the ninth century or thereabouts, was Scandinavian. We know that from the origin of the name in Danish mosi vollr, ‘mossy field’. The modern pronunciation foxes the stranger: it is ‘mowzle’.
The present kirk was built in 1816 but radically altered in 1929. But there had been worship on this spot from the thirteenth century.
Rev John Gillespie was the kirk’s outstanding minister (hence the Gillespie Memorial Hall). His service to the parish was long, from 1865 until 1912. In 1903 he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly (two other pupils from his boyhood school at Newton Wamphray also became Moderator). Gillespie’s great interest was in farming, about which he was so knowledgeable that he was dubbed Scotland’s ‘Minister of Agriculture’. The cup awarded at the Royal Highland Show for Galloway cattle is a Gillespie endowment.
At Mount Kedar, to the south-east, there is a monument commemorating Rev Henry Duncan of Ruthwell, the savings bank pioneer. When Duncan opted for the secessionist Free Kirk in the 1840s, it was in the neighbouring Mouswald parish that he set up his new kirk and Mount Kedar was the manse.
Mouswald Grange, to the north-west, has a striking tower that was once part of a windmill, built in the late eighteenth century. It processed oatmeal.
It must have been fun to live here at one time, if a local rhyme is to be believed:
They’re a’ sic senseless asses, o!
But there’s nane sae free when at a spree
As the Mouswald lads and lasses, o!