Brought to you by your Clan Society;
Clan Carruthers Society-International
Although Carruthers lands extended far beyond Mouswald, it was the home of our chiefs for many years. This description, in part from the 1800’s paints a picture that would reflect what it was like in ancient times.
The ancient parish of Mouswald in Nithsdale, situated 2km northwest of Carrutherstown and 10 km southeast of Dumfries in south-west Scotland lying on the B724 south of the A75. It is The site views southward over the Solway Firth. The parish itself has various spellings in the literature: Mouswald, Mousewald, Mosswald or Muswald.
•INFORMATION DESCRIBING THE PARISH FROM RECORDS OF THE EARLY 1800’s.
It is situated on the south western extremity of Dumfriesshire lying midway between Rivers Nith and Annan.
The name of this parish signifies the ‘Wood’ near the Moss, the latter syllable being derived from the Saxon wealt or walda, a woody district.
It was formerly written Muswald & Mosswald It is now frequently written Mouswald, which seems incorrect as the elision of U is certainly more in unison with the derivation and mode adopted in precedents.
The Parish of Mouswald lies midway between the Rivers Nith and Annan and is bounded on the west by Torthorwald Parish. On the north it is bounded by that of Lochmaben, on the east by Dalton and on the south by Ruthwell. It has no detached portion within the boundaries of another parish nor within its limits a detached part of any other parish.
The Western Boundary is defined by Wath Burn a small Stream which empties itself into Lochar Water, at which point of junction the latter stream traces the south-western boundary for about ¼ mile the south, east and northern boundaries are not of any strongly-defined natural kind being walls palings runners and roads.
The appearance of the parish is plain and level with some rising grounds which have however like most other hills in Lower Nithsdale a gentle acclivity. Its length is from 4 to 5 miles its breadth from 2 to 3 miles or per statistics, its Area is 8¼ Miles or 4725 Scotch Acres which is equal to 5953¼ Impl. (Imperial).
The soil on the west side is of a light sandy nature and contiguous to Lochar Moss at the south west, it therefore consists for the most part of a wet and marshy pasture. However, towards the east where the ground rises the Soil is very productive.
Lochar Moss forms the South western district from which the people procure abundance of fuel. The classification of land may be 4,278. cultivated, 1260 bad pasture and Moss, 256 improvable with advantage and 189 wood.
No minerals abound and there is no manufacture carried on. The highest hill is 700 feet above sea level but is cultivated to its summit. Several rills take their source in the upper grounds, the largest of which is Mouswald Burn which creeps sluggishly over a distance of 3 miles to Wath Burn. Numerous fine springs also contribute to water this parish, several of which having dedicatory names might imply their repute during Popish times.
Lochar Water as previously noticed touching the parish at the south western extremity of the parish, is the only considerable stream.
•SERVICES AND POPULATION
Two turnpike roads from Dumfries to Annan and Carlisle run through the Parish from north west to south east and Glasgow and south-western Railway presents a similar direction towards Gretna. The turnpike and parish toads are all in excellent repair.
There are three villages or hamlets: Mouswald which has a population of 160, Woodside and Cleughbrae which have a joint population of 150.
The parish church a handsome modern structure in a central and convenient situation and placed as it is upon an elevation is a prominent object it is visible from almost every point of the parish. It has accommodation for 386 sitters. The patron is the Marquis of Queensberry carrying a stipend and glebe of £240.15.0. annually.
There is only one parish school which has but limited accommodation and is in indifferent repair. Salary attached to it was £25.13.4 with £9.10.0 fees.
There is also a Free Church and school on Mount Kedar which from their situation at southern parish boundary also accommodate the adjoining Parish of Ruthwell. There is also on the Summit of this hill a handsome monument to the memory of the late Dr. Duncan the first Minister of the Free Church, a man esteemed alike for his great learning, his beneficent public acts and charitable purposes.
However little is known of the early ecclesiastical state of this Parish. A church dedicated to St Peter existed in close proximity to the well called St. Peter’s well, the waters of which no doubt furnished an excellent supply during Popish times, as the spring has never been known to freeze even during the hardest frosts nor does Wath Burn into which it flows ever freeze for a considerable distance after their junction.
Several antiquities exist in this parish, respecting which little authentic information can be procured, as the surmises of locals being little in conformity with history and seemingly at variance with the early character of this district.
The remains of two camps are yet visible one at Burronhill near the centre of the Parish and another about ¾ mile north east east thereof.
The former is allowed to be British (Anciebt Briton); from the little remains yet existing, it seems to have had a double fosse and to have been of a circular formation.
The second approaches to that of a square, is of such dimensions only to be occupied as an Outpost – called Castra Aestiva or Summer encampment, and is pronounced by people of locality to be Roman.
Such a supposition seems inconsistent with facts as no Roman remains have ever been found in this locality and no Roman road has ever been traced in the district. The nearest Station or Roman Camp was on Wardlaw Carlaverock about 7 miles distant, with a dense forest and marsh intervening.
If Roman is its Construction it could only be attributed to the period of Agricola’s fourth campaign or his subjugation of the Selgovae, but Tacitus remarks that at that period Agricola was impeded in his march to the east of Lochar Water (the intervening space between Wardlaw and this camp ) by a dense forest and extensive morass. There is argument that it might have been constructed during the undertaking of the Roman Road in the adjoining Parish of Lochmaben. That seems also improbable as the entire district South was long previously conquered. These camps from the above facts therefore may more consistently be ascribed to a much later period.
Another camp is reputed to have existed on Pantath Hill the traces of which cannot now be discerned but a cairn called Stryal or Tryal Cairn although now scarcely discoverable as a distinct feature from the surrounding ground, is pointed out. Tradition affirms its having been the place where malefactors (criminals) heard their sentence pronounced. This cairn was originally 288 feet in circumference.
Another cairn is spoken of called Deadmangill which has now entirely disappeared, the name however is still applied to the glen wherein it was situated. This cairn is traditionally reported to have marked the spot where delinquents were executed.
A tumulus (ancient burial ground/barrow) now called Elf Knowe, where human bones have been found, is reported to have existed near Bucklerhole, at the North western extremity of the oparish.
Five Border Towers are said to have existed in this oarish, but examiners have only been able to discover the vestiges of three respectively at Bucklerhole, Mouswald Mains and Raffles. However, they have all been strong square buildings and extend nearly parallel.
The centre one originally belonged to Sir Simon Carruthers and from vestiges still existing and its name “Mouswald Place” was the strongest and most important in the district.
The present proprietor has versus juro antiquairia dubbed his house as The Place of [the] Parish, thus depreciating in importance the once proud and stubborn stronghold. Mouswald Place is a 16th century stone tower house, founded by the Carruthers family and is found within the Mouswald Caravan Park.
The largest and the only remaining border tower of the five in the Mouswald parish, the sites of four others have been lost. Sadly only the eastern half of this tower, with its plain walls and unvaulted basement, stands to any height.
It measured 23 ft. 11 in. by 17ft. 9 in. and the walls were 6 ft. thick. They stood up to 30 ft. high in 1912.
The east wall and the returns at the NE and SE angles, standing to a height of c.10.0m, are all that remain of this tower. The walls are 2.0m thick, except at the NE return where the north wall, battered to a height of c4.0m, is 3.0m thick at ground level.
This land and the land around it belonged to the Clan Carruthers, Mouswald itself up to the 16th century. This is therefore Carruthers country at its heart and is in its entirety as well as some hills, old forest and marshland is also a green and pleasant land with rolling hills, open meadows, streams and rivers nearby. Our heritage is steeped in these lands as Carruthers were lording it here from the thirteenth century, with a reputation for cross-border raiding. Sadly this predisposition finally brought the Mouswald branch of the family to an end when Simon Carruthers was killed in action in 1548. Our clan was then led by the Holmains line, now recognised as the chiefly line, with living descendants to this day.
Being so close to our roots of both the parish of Carruthers and the picturesque Carrutherstown itself, it is obvious that in those days the fruit didn’t fall far from the tree. Since then Carruthers have flown to all corners of the world, from all nationalities and from all walks of life.
A BASE NEAR MOUSWALD- Carrutherstown
This is a great place to base oneself as a visiting Carruthers surrounded by our history and artifacts, with Comlongon Castle and it’s Green Lady (see other post on the ghost of Marion Carruthers) being close by. The Carrutherstown Millennium monument, supported by many Carruthers in local populations, is found outside the Village Hall facing away from the elements.