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Yetholm Scotland

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Information on the village of Yetholm, near Kelso in Scotland.

Introduction to the Parish of Yetholm

Yetholm is described in the book 'Notes by the Way' written in the nineteenth century by Archibald C McMichael as follows:

A Parish and village in Roxburghshire, lying to the east of Linton and Morebattle, and adjoining Northumberland. The parish comprises a portion of the beautiful vale of the Bowmont Water, a stream which flows north-east and falls into the Till. The whole district about here displays a pleasing variety of sparkling streams, glens and green slopes rising up to the Cheviot Mountains. The village, or Town Yetholm, stands on the Bowmont Water, which divides it into two parts. It is a smart place, containing a post office, with money order and telegraph departments; Established, Free, and United Presbyterian Churches; and two public schools. Population 1045. Post Town, Kelso, eight miles. Kirk-Yetholm, on the opposite side of the river, has long been famed as the head-quarters of the gipsies, a nomadic order of people who, as their name implies, were originally from Egypt, and came to this country about four centuries ago. This singular, and at one time distinct race of people, has, of course, long since become mixed up with strolling individuals of other nationalities, and of late years appear to be decreasing and losing their distinctive character. The sites of two Border towers and the remains of some very ancient camps are in the district; and the residences which rank as seats are Cherrytrees and Yetholm Hall.'

Parishes boundaries are very old and were decided either according to the lands of existing landowners or by the 'catchment area' of the individual churches - which church the locals went to meant their home was in that parish. The first parishes were set up by David I in the early 12th century. The first ever was, apparently, Edenham, now known as Ednam, just beyond Kelso.

Yetholm is one of the smallest parishes in the country, measuring only four miles by two. In past times, it was bordered by the parish of Mow or Molle, which has long been subsumed within the parish of Morebattle. Mowhaugh is one of the few names which remind us of the old township, which was the centre of population of Mow Parish. Today, Yetholm is made up, basically, of the villages of Kirk Yetholm and Town Yetholm, the estate of herrytrees and the farms of Yetholm Mains and Venchen.

In his report for the Statistical Account of 1791, the Rev William Blackie, writes:

'The parish of Yetholm or Zetholm, has never had any other name, as far as is known, nor does it appear that a part of any other parish as been annexed to it. Where longest, which is nearly from north-west to south east, its extent is between four miles and four and a half; the breadth generally about two miles; and the Bowmont water divides it into two parts, not quite equal, the largest being towards the north-west.'

Rev John Baird, in his report for the Statistical Report of 1841, adds:

' It seems to be derived from the Scoto-Saxon word 'Yet' or 'gate', signifying a gate or road, and obviously connected with the Anglo-saxon word Zeat, Zete, Zate, porta…. so that Yetholm or Yetham may signify the hamlet or dwelling upon the great entrance from England, or the adjoining part of Northumberland, into Scotland. It marches with England for a distance of about six miles, and no part of the parish is more than two miles from the border.'

Rutherford, writing in 1866, states:

'The general aspect and outline of the parish is hilly, and some of the hills attain a great elevation: Starough, or Sturoich, has an elevation of 1629 feet, Latchley Hill, 1322 feet, Whitelaw, 1263 feet, and Wild Goose Hill, 1097 feet. The lower hills are cultivated, and the higher, which are a portion of the Cheviot range are clothed with a rich green sward to their summits, affording excellent pasture to many thousands of sheep. Several peaceful and romantic little valleys lie embosomed amid these hills; and the vale of the Bowmont itself, in which nine-tenths of the inhabitants of the parish reside, is only a larger vale of the same description.'

The Bowmont is formed from the two burns, the Cheviot Burn and the Kelsocleuch Burn. The Cheviot Burn rises on Auchope Cairn, and the Kelsocleuch Burn on Windy Gyle.

Rev John Baird, writing in 1841, states,

'Bowmont Water, in some very old charters, is written Bol-bent and Bow-bent, and is probably so named from the curvature of its course. The course of the Bowmont is extremely rapid, and, from its vicinity to the hills, it is exposed to frequent high floods, which sometimes do incredible mischief to the haughs and meadow pasture, tearing up and carrying away the rich deep soils on its banks, and occasionally burying whole acres under a bed of unproductive sand and gravel. The bed of the Bowmont affords the finest sharp sand for building.'

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