Name.-KILLEARN seems to be compounded of three Celtic words, Kill~ear-rhin, signifying the cell or church of west-point. This etymology is descriptive of the situation, which is at the western extremity of the Campsie Fells, a mountainous ridge running eastward from Killearn to Kilsyth, a distance of twenty miles. It is farther contirmed by the circumstance, that the rising ground, a little below the site of the church, near the confluence of Enrick and Blane, still bears the name of Rhin, or Point.
Extent-The parish is of an irregular figure. Its length is 12 miles; its breadth, where greatest, 4, but at an average 2. It contains 27 square miles, and probably 17,000 acres. It is situated in Strathenrick, now the western district of Stirlingshire, but originally a part of Lennox, or Dumbartonshire.
Topographical Appearances.-The lowest part of the parish,
at the confluence of Enrick and Blane, is about forty feet above the level
of the sea, and eighteen above that of Lochlomond; into which the united
rivers~flow after a course, in a direct line, of five miles. The Ennrick
forms the northern boundary or the parish, for eight miles nearly, dividing
it from the parishes of Drymen and Balfron. Its course is rapid, and its
waters peculiarly turbid in time of floods; hence probably its name, Enrick,
is a compound of the Celtic aun, or avon, ruadh, the red river.
Along its bank, there is a narrow slip of alluvial soil, the most fertile
and valuable of the parish. Receding from this, the ground gradually rises,
forming a sloping tract of arable land, varying from one to two miles in
breadth. The village, with the church, and Buchanan's monument, is situated
in this tract, on a rising ground commanding an extensive prospect. The
limit of the arable ground is about 500 feet above the level of the sea;
at one place, Tamnetherskins, * the height above that level exceeds 600.
Still higher, is another belt, rising about 200 feet fitrther, and extend
mg about a mile ill breadth; which, though, in some places, shewing marks of the plough in former times, is now kept permanently in pasture. The surface is generally mossy, incumbent on white freestone, and producing coarse grass where it is marshy, and stunted heath where it is dry. Above this, is the mountainous ridge, composed of trap rock, and rising to the height of 1200 feet above the level of the sea. Except in some steep places, particularly in the Corrie of Balglas, the rock is concealed by soil formed of the debris of trap, whose rich verdure is a striking contrast to the dark heath below. It produces white clover, and the finest. grasses in abundance; some patches of it, at an elevation of 800 feet, seem formerly to have been under tillage.
* Tamnetherskins is a corruption of the Celtic words Tam-na- uriskin,
the mount of goblins. Tam is a common Celtic affix to places.
It may be traced as a primitive root in many languages. e. g. tumulus
in Latin is the diminutive of it, and tumeo is a verb formed from it. The
original idea is a mount, a small round eminence.
Hydrography.-At the southern extremity of the parish, where it meets Kilpatrick, there is an artificial lake, covering about 150 acres,-a reservoir to supply water during summer to the Partick mills, on the Kelvin near Glasgow,-as the sources of that river were taken to form the summit reservoir of the Forth and Clyde Canal. Besides the Enrick and Blane, already alluded to, there are many rivulets descending rapidly from the mountain's brow, and forming numberless cascades in their course. Of these, the finest is in the glen of Dualt, near Killearn House, where in a deep wooded ravine, amid many smaller falls, the rivulet rushes over a perpendicular precipice of sixty feet. In the same neighbourhood, the Carnock, another rivulet, has worn a channel seventy feet deep, through red sandstone.* There are also many cascades on the rivulets of Ballikinrain and Boquhan, the steep banks of which have been planted by the proprietors; and numerous walks have been made along them, that the scenery may be seen to advantage.
* Most names' of places are Celtic, and significmt. The chasm of Carnock is called Ashdow, a corruption of Uisk-dhu , black water, from the dark appearance of the rivulet, as the rays of the sun rarely reach it, on account of the high precipices and overhanging woods. Carnock is a diminutive of Carron, and signifies little winding river. Dualt flows through mossy ground; hence its origin dhu-alt, black rivulet. Avon or Aun is the same in sense and sound with the Latin Amn-is.
Minerals.-The base of this district is the old red sandstone. In the rising ground, a variety of strata is exposed to view by the action of the mountain streams, consisting of clay, lime, and free-stone. Of the last, which is uppermost, some quarries are wrought for building houses; and one quarry near Ballikinrain, if we may judge from the excavation, must have been of repute, formerly, for mill-stones. About ten pairs are still disposed of annually; but they are reckoned inferior, as they wear too rapidly. Near the mill-stone quarry is a spring, holding lime in solution, and petrifying the moss on its brink. The mountains are all caped with trap rock, which seems, at some remote period, to have been forced upward through the sandstone in a state of fusion. During the same eruption, many fissures were made, extending like radii from the centre of the mountain down to the valley. These fissures were also filled with fused trap, and furnish excellent materials for the roads of the district.
In the trap formation, near the south end of the parish, there is a singular chasm, called the Wanzie. A transverse section of a hill, running east and west, seems to have slipped off, probably from the partial decay of the subjacent sandstone leaving it with out support. The chasm is 346 feet in length. The width where greatest is 10 feet, and where least 2 feet. The depth at present is about 30 feet at a medium but as the bottom is filled with rubbish, it must have originally been much greater. It takes a zig-zag direction, and it is easy to mark the exactness with which the angles aud surfaces, on one side, answer to those on the other. There were many fissures in the same hill, which have been filled up by the tenants since the introduction of sheep. Near the north corner'of the hill, there is still one left open, running in a zig-zag direction, 185 feet in length, and generally 6 inches in breadth.
Attempts have often of late, as well as formerly, been made to find coal in this parish and neighbourhood. That they have always been unsuccessful, is what should be expected from the mineralogy of the district. The Grampians, a primary range, stretching from Dumbarton to the east coast, are accompanied on the south by a secondary ridge, at a distance varying from five to fifteen miles. Strath Enrick is the western portion of the intervening track between those mountainous ranges. The base is the old red sand-stone, in which coal is never found. In ascending the southern range, we lose the red sandstone, and find strata of lime, clay, and freestone, with occasionally a coal seam of three or four inches in thickness,-a plain indication that we are rising to the coal measures. The trap rock, forming the apex of the range, covers the previously existing strata. Passing that interruption, we enter on Campsie and Kilpatrick, the great coal-field of Scotland, crossing the breadth of the island, but lying all to the south of the secondary range. The searches for coal have been made, both by boring and shanking; but, with one exception, always in the lower parts of Strath Enrick; whereas common observation, as well as geological science, indicates that the higher regions should have been diligently examined, as, if a workable stratum of coal exists any where, it must be found near the verge of the trap formation.
Trees.- The arable part of the parish is gener~ly well-wooded,
as regards both shelter and ornalnent. Besides the plantations which surround
the houses of proprietors, every glen and ravine is covered with copse-wood.
The following table contains the dimensions of some remarkable trees, as
measured at present, and as reported in the former Statistical Account.
The yew trees are near the House of Ballikinrain; the others are on the
estate of Killearn, near the old mansion-house.
|Yew berry-bearing||8 feet||0 inches||8 feet||5 inches||89 feet|
These trees are all in vigorous growth, yet the increase during forty years is inconsiderable. There is a possible error in the comparison. The former reporter does not state the height where he measured the circumference. I made all the measurements at three feet above the ground. From many observations on yew trees, De Candolle of Geneva calculates their average annual increase in diameter at one-tweltth of an inch,- which is more than double of what is shown in this table; and by that rule the age of the one yew is 404 years, and of the other, 492. If we assume that the increase of the oak, as in the table, is 15 inches in circumference, or 5 in diameter, during a period of forty years; then, on the supposition that its growth has been equable, the age of the tree is 424 years. The age of the silver fir is known to be about 100 years, while it nearly equals the oak, however old it may be, in circumference, and, from its greater height, exceeds it in cubic contents.