Posted by: Jim Bell | March 17, 2011

On the Granite Formations of Newabbey

“The parishes of Newabbey, Kirkbean, Colvend, and Kirkgunzeon, lie contiguous, and the chains or ridges pervading these, which are wholly composed of granite, stretch in a direction from S.E. to N.W. The granite, it is true, appears more distinct in the above-mentioned parishes; still it stretches in a sort of ridge across the south of the Stewartry, as far as the Dee, and even appears on the other side, giving existence to the lofty Cairnsmoor.

“At Criffel, which is a huge rounded mountain, towering above most of the hills in the south of Scotland, so as to be seen at a great distance, we have first, a ridge running from S.E. to N.W., terminating in another pretty lofty hill, called Lowters. Then commencing at Shambellie, a little to the north of Criffel, we have another ridge running nearly parallel with the above, consisting of Auchingray and Glensone hills; and further north still is another ridge, almost parallel in like manner, commencing at Whinnyhill, and including Trostive and Graizend; these terminate in a pretty large sort of loch, called Loch Arthur, where the granite formation terminates also; and we find the next hills, Dalscairth and Mabie, exhibiting a distinct stratification of graywacke or clayslate. At the foot of Craigurd, the most northerly of the above ridges affords little interesting. In a sort of morass, interspersed with several large blocks of granite, as if they had rolled down from the ridge above, is one large block, called the Rocking-stone.

“Glensone Hill runs nearly S.E., and on the west side, around the brow of the hill, is an extensive ridge of granite rocks, in a curved form, quite bare and rugged; many of the masses very large, disjoined from the body of the hill, and presenting some of them a distinct columnar formation. This is the more remarkable, as the dip of the rock in this hill, and indeed in all the ridges, is westward, at 60° to 70°. To the west of Glensone lies Lowters, the highest of all except Criffel. The east side, fronting Glensone, is steep and rugged; the rocks cropping out quite precipitously, apparently corresponding with the west side of Glensone, though the valley between may extend to the width of 600 or 800 yards, through which Loch Arthur discharges a small stream, which flows into the Nith. On the other hand, the west side of the hill, following the nature of the dip, slopes with a gentle declivity, and is cultivated a considerable way up. This same circumstance is observable at Auchingray Hill, the S.E. side of which is steep and precipitous, the rocks cropping out quite bare; whereas the west side slopes, according to the dip, and is cultivated almost to the top. All these hills and ridges, besides having innumerable blocks of granite scattered over their surface, in ample profusion, and in all directions, seem entirely composed of this rock to a great depth; at least as far as any person has penetrated.

“The highest ridge of the whole remains to be described; that is a hill called Knockandach, i. e. the ‘Hill of Drink,’ running in a direction nearly north and south, rising to the height of 1200 feet, and which is continued till it finally terminates in the gigantic Criffel. Criffel is certainly an immense mass of granite, changing into syenite in some parts. As on the east side, the rocks crop out in several places, still exhibiting the dip mentioned. Criffel has one principal summit, with three knees or shoulders, one east, one south, and another west; and Knockandach, formerly mentioned, completes the formation northward. On the principal summit has been erected, at different times, and by different contributors, a large cairn of granite rocks, from which the view is most extensive and splendid.”

On the Granite Formations of Newabbey, in Galloway. By the Rev. J. M. Fisher, A.M., of Rose Bank, Dumfries, 1840.


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