A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Coldingham (Urbs Coludi of Bede, c. 700), a village and a coast parish of NE Berwickshire. The former by road is 3 miles WNW of Eyemouth, 4½ NNW of Ayton, and 3¼ NNE of Reston Junction, this being 11 miles NW of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and 46½ ESE of Edinburgh. ` Situated in a valley,' says Mr Hunter, ` about a mile distant from the sea, the small town meets the eye of the stranger only on his near approach by the several descents, and with striking and picturesque effect. The cottages present a scattered appearance, those on the northern side, called Boggan, being perched on the steep bank of the Reckleside or Gosemount Burn. On the southern side flows another deep-channelled streamlet, the Court Burn, the main part of the town being situated between them, and the two uniting about a furlong below. ' At the village itself are a post office under Ayton, with money order and savings' bank departments, 2 inns, a volunteer hall (1872), a public school, a Congregationalist church (1878), and a new U.P. church (1870; 550 sittings), Early English in style, with a slated spire; whilst a gentle eminence to the S is crowned by the ancient Priory. Fairs are held on the second Tuesday, old style, of July and October. Pop. (1861) 655, (1871) 647, (1881) 572. The parish contains also the villages of Coldingham Shore, Reston, Auchencraw, and Grant's House. It is bounded N and NE by the German Ocean, E by Eyemouth and Ayton, SE by Ayton, S by Chirnside, S W by Bunkle, W by Abbey St Bathans and Oldhamstocks (detached), and NW by Cockburnspath. Its length from E to W varies between 2¾ and 7½ miles, its breadth from N to S between 3 and 7¼ miles; and its area is 24,3251/3 acres, of which 233 are foreshore, and 71¾ water, while 802/3 belong to Highlaws, a detached portion, surrounded by Eyemouth parish. A stretch of the shore at Coldingham Sands and the farm of Northfield is smooth and of tolerably easy access; but mostly the coast is bold and rock-bound, its cave-pierced cliffs of porphyry and greywacke, the haunt of myriads of sea-fowl, rising steeply from the sea to heights of from 257 to 710 feet. Its extent within Coldingham is fully 10 miles, if one follows all the indentations and promontories, chief of which latter are those of St Abbs and Fast Castle, 2½ miles NNE and 4 NW of the village. Within 300 yards but 400 feet above the level of the ocean, 1 mile WSW of St Abbs Head, lies Coldingham Loch, a bleak, triangular lake, which, measuring 3 by 2 furlongs, is several fathoms deep, and contains abundance of perch. Eye Water, first running 1¾ mile NNE along the Oldhamstocks border, from Grant's House station next winds 8 miles ESE through the southern interior, and then flows 1¾ mile SE, either on or near to the boundary with Ayton, 2 miles of which have already been traced by Ale Water, rising in and flowing through this parish. Dulaw, Abbey, and three or four more burns run right to the sea; and, indeed, the whole surface is channelled by innumerable rivulets. From E to W it attains, to the N of the Ale, 387 feet above sea-level near Whitecross, 310 at St Abbs Head, 528 at Earnsheugh, 448 near Boggangreen, 659 at Baskinbrae, 743 at Cross Law, 715 at Laverock Law, 644 at Brown Rig, and 710 near the site of Soldiers Dyke; between the Ale and the Eye, 660 near Hillend, 782 at Houndwood Camp, 738 at Drone Hill, 686 at Cowel Hill, and 653 at the site of St David's Cairn; to the S of the Eye, 432 near Stoneshiel, 503 at Greenhead, 860 at Horsley Hill, 614 near Brockholes, and 560 at Brockhole Hill-heights that belong to an eastern extension of the Lammermuirs. The rocks are chiefly Silurian, with intrusions, however, of trap; the soils are various and not particularly fertile. A considerable aggregate of flat arable land forms the bottom of the valleys; and just about the middle of the parish is ` Coldingham Moor, ' a tract of between 5000 and 6000 acres, which, once a mixture of moor, forest, and moss, looked in last century a treeless waste, but now in great measure has been reclaimed and brought under the plough. About 500 acres are clothed with plantation, 100 with natural wood. Mansions are Coldingham Law House, Homefield, Highlaws, Press House, Templehall House, Berrybank, Coveyheugh, Fairlaw House, Houndwood House, Newmains, Renton House, Stoneshiel House, and Sunnyside; and 12 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 25 of between £100 and £500,6 of from £50 to £100, and 22 of from £20 to £50. A native was Geo. Dunbar (17741851), Greek Professor in Edinburgh University. Fast Castle is a principal antiquity; and at Renton, at Houndwood, at East and West Preston, were fortalices or castles belonging to Logan of Restalrig, its wicked lord, all of which were demolished during last century to furnish building materials. Traces of four camps- two native and two Roman-are on the heights to the W and S of St Abbs; and on St Abbs stood Ebba's monastery. It seems, however, thence to have been transferred to the after site of the Benedictine priory, where foundations were excavated in 1854 of an earlier church with circular E apse. The priory itself was founded or refounded in 1098 by Eadgar, King of the Scots, the son of Malcolm Ceannmor and St Margaret, he having wrested the sceptre from Donald, with Wil liam Rufus' assistance, and fighting beneath the banner of St Cuthbert. To St Cuthbert, then, with SS Mary and Ebba, he consecrated this his votive offering, and granted it to St Cuthbert's canons regulars of Durham. So that, though situate in Scotland, and though endowed by Scottish kings and nobles, Coldingham priory was long subordinate to the English Church, which exercised over it absolute control, and appropriated great part of its extensive revenues. In 1488 an attempt to suppress it and annex its property to the Chapel Royal of Stirling led to the Douglas rebellion which, ending with James III. 's downfall at Sauchie Burn, left the Homes masters of Coldingham till 1504. An Act of that year annexed it to the Crown; and in 1509 it was finally severed from Durham, and placed under the Abbey of Dunfermline. So it continued till 1560, when it shared in the fate of other religions houses. Its nearness to the Border had exposed it to frequent calamities; and thrice it sustained great hurt by fire-in 1216, 1430, and 1545. Cromwell, too, did great damage to the buildings, which later served for quarry to the village; so that little remains now to show their former glories but the E and N walls of the choir of the church, semi-Norman without, and lapsing into almost First Pointed within. Cruciform in plan, this church consisted of a nave and choir, each 90 by 25 feet, with a transept, 41 by 34, at whose NW angle a massive square tower, which fell little more than a century since, uprose to a height of 90 feet and upwards. The choir, patched up into a parish church, was restored (1854-55) at a cost of £2200, including £625 from the Board of Works. The W and S walls of 1662 were then rebuilt, and the corner towers carried up to their original height; the whitewash was removed from the exquisite carvings, a flat stained-wood roof introduced, a S porch added, and the interior rebenched, containing now 410 sittings. The result is creditable to the early restorers. In the presbytery of Chirnside and synod of Merse and Teviotdale, the civil parish has been, since 1851, divided into the quoad sacra parishes of Coldingham and Houndwood, the former a living worth £397. In it 3 public schools-Coldingham, Coldingham Moor, and Coldingham Shore-with respective accommodation for 190,32, and 91 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 131,34, and 63, and grants of £96,12s., £40,6s., and £54,1s. 6d.; Houndwood containing 3 other public schools. Valuation (1882) £31,973,17s. Pop. of civil parish (1801) 2391, (1831) 2668, (1861) 3241, (1871) 3093, (1881) 3159; of quoad sacra parish (1881) 1644; of registration district (1881) 2675.—Ord. Sur., sh. 34, 1864. See A. Carr's History of Coldingham Priory (Edinb. 1836); J. Raines' Correspondence, Inventories, Account Rolls, and Law Proceedings of the Priory of Coldingham (Surtees Soc., Durham, 1841); and W. K. Hunter's History of the Priory of Coldingham (Edinb. 1858).

Coldinghamshire, an ancient jurisdiction in Berwickshire, comprehending the parishes of Coldingham, Eyemouth, Ayton, Lamberton, and Aldcambus, and parts of the parishes of Mordington, Foulden, Chirnside, Bunkle, and Cockburnspath, in all amounting to about one-eighth of the entire area of the county. The nature of the jurisdiction is ill defined, but seems to have been chiefly, if not wholly, ecclesiastical, and connected with Coldingham Priory.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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