Red Kite Feeding Station Bellymack Hill Farm, Laurieston, Castle Douglas, DG7 2PJ, GB
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Crossmichael GKT Info Shelter (Crossmichael, near Thistle Inn) [due to be installed by April 2010]

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History of Crossmichael

The village name comes from ‘Cross of St Michael,’ patron saint of the original church. The cross no longer exists, but an annual fair was formerly held at Michaelmas (29 September), until c1850.

Early History
Crossmichael was first recorded in 1164, when Galloway was an independent land. Laden with history, many archaeological relics have been found nearby. These include: Roman terret rings; a bronze-age spearhead; a silver armband, and; amber bead. A Roman fort once existed to the south, near Glenlochar. Sixteen other forts, mottes, stone circles and cairns all lie within 3 miles of Crossmichael, suggesting its strategic importance, in early history.

Church and Bell Tower
Crossmichael Church, built in 1751, is the commanding feature of the village. The distinctive, rare round bell tower was part of the former church (1611), while the earliest grave in the churchyard dates to 1547.

The Killing Time
Presbyterians protested against plans to establish the Episcopalian Church, in Scotland. Support for the National Covenant (1638) was particularly strong in southwest Scotland but at a heavy cost. Government soldiers massacred many men and women without trial, in ‘The Killing Time’ of the 1680s. One victim was William Graham, shot dead while surrendering. His grave can be found in the churchyard.

Crofter Clearances
In the 18th Century, landlords cleared their land of crofters or ‘cotters’ and fenced the land off with dykes (stone walls) and hedges, to create larger farms. The cotters initially retaliated by demolishing these dykes but government troops were drafted in from Kirkcudbright to apprehend these ‘Levellers’. Ringleaders were sent to Jamaica to work on plantations. Farming became more prosperous with soil improvement. Fertile marl (muddy sediment) was excavated from Carlingwark Loch and moved up river to the port at Crossmichael. As the cotters moved on, less trades were required. Crossmichael’s population declined, by the 19th Century.

The Heroic Tale of Jeanie Dean
Jeanie Deans was a fictional character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel ‘Heart of Midlothian’, based on a true story. The real heroine was Helen Walker, whose family were crofters of Crossmichael Parish. In 1736, Helen’s sister Isobel (Effie) was charged with murder, when a foetus was discovered at Irongray near Dumfries. Helen borrowed money and set off, bare-footed and carrying a petition, for London to plead her sister’s innocence. The journey took fourteen days and she waited for three more until she caught the attention of the Duke of Argyll (close contact to the King). Effie was subsequently pardoned.

Dumfries & Galloway Leader Local Action Group