From Robert Chambers to William Kemp   4 December 1846

1 Doune Terrace, Edin:

Dec. 4/46

Dear Sir,

I write at venture to revive an old correspondence, hoping that you are still at Galashiels. Please to understand that I am now prosecuting a general enquiry into ancient sea-margins or beaches, as far as our island is concerned. I have got some valuable measurements effected in various districts within Scotland, from which it now clearly appears that there are ancient beaches throughout no inconsiderable portion of our country, if not the whole, at about the following elevations above the present high water mark:

60 feet,—largely developed at St Andrews, seen on both sides of Firth of Forth, at Stirling, &c.

108 feet, largely obs.d in lower part of the Merse, as at Paxton, Milne-Graden, &c. Berwick Castle upon it. The flat at Holyroodhouse, plateaux at Bridge of Allan, Inverness, &c. portions of it.

172 feet, seen in the Merse around Ladykirk, at Dalkeith, at St Andrews, and other parts of Scotland.

275 feet; seen in various parts of Edinburghshire. Not yet enquired for anywhere else.

It seems to me that you might be able to afford a little help towards this enquiry, since you have turned your attention so much to the subject. The Tweed is at the head of the 108 feet beach at Kelso, if I am rightly informed as to the height of that town above the sea. Kelso should have been to the firth of Tweed, as Alloa is in the present Firth of Forth. The 172 feet beach would be marked higher up, perhaps as far up as Melrose. The 275 feet must be a good deal higher up the vale still. Now, could you, from any knowledge you have of heights above the sea in your district, determine any of these beaches for me in that part of the valley of Tweed?

They generally appear as sandy or gras⁠⟨⁠sy⁠⟩⁠ flats starting out from the lower parts of the sides of hills, sloping slightly away from the hills, and generally coming to an escarpment or a bank-like termination, not far from the river. In some places they appear pretty plainly; in others are wholly worn away or nearly so, as circumstances have determined   It would be curious to find that Abbotsford is upon one. I should not wonder if it were. Please, dear sir, let me hear from you on the subject, and believe me very faithfully yours, | R. Chambers.

Please cite as “KEMP61,” in Ɛpsilon: The William Kemp Collection accessed on 1 March 2024,