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A Short History of Moffat
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Moffat was built at the point where two major routes through Scotland meet. It is not clear what prehistoric settlement may have been there, but certainly the Roman Legions came this way. At a later date, the early mediaeval divisions in the Border between Scotland and England turned the area into a semi-lawless place where even royal authority was flouted. The 'Devil's Beeftub' north of the town is a deep valley where cattle stampeded from England or elsewhere were corralled by the reivers. Tower-houses were built from the late mediaeval period by nobility and churchmen for safety from raids by warring families. The Union of the Crowns in 1601 saw the reiving decline, but it was not until the 1750s that it died out completely.
With the land reasonable peaceful, Moffat entered a period of prosperity as a market and droving town for sheep and cattle, as is shown by the magnificent ram on the Colvin monument. However, this in itself caused such difficulties that the roads from Lockerbie north to Elvanfoot were remade many times until (in the days of Telford and McAdam) a good road from Carlisle to Glasgow was made, and a new route from Moffat to Twwedsdale built for Edinburgh traffic.
Moffat continued to prosper from its position on the West Coast routes to Glasgow and Edinburgh, with stage and mail coaches to cater for. The discovery of Moffat Well in 1633 and its shrewd marketing for a spa, transformed Moffat from a marketing and droving town into a tourist center. People came to take the waters, then discovered the beauty of the surrounding area and came regularly to enjoy it. The railways bypassed Moffat except for its long-closed branch line, whilst now the M74 passes a mile west of the town. Visitors still come for themselves as a break from the thunder of motorway traffic, whilst others use the variety of local guesthouses and use Moffat as a touring base for visiting Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders. It is hard to predict the exact future of the town, but no doubt it will continue to give its usual warm welcome to visitors.
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All text and images © 1999 Richard Edkins of Dalbeattie Internet.
Moffat Town Website started 8th December 1999.
Last updated 15th December 1999.