Before and after the Roman invasion, successive waves
of immigration passed over the Southern Uplands—Celtic Goidels, Celtic
Brythons, Angles, Norsemen. The inhabitants prior to the first Celtic
arrival are known as Iberians. Each wave of immigration influenced the
populations and a striking result of this is seen in the place-names of
Peebles and Selkirk. Gaelic and Cymric (i.e. British), English and
Norse appear; Gaelic rare, Cymric common, while, since some roots are the
same in English and Norse, the Norse element has perhaps been
under-estimated. Gaelic are drum, cnoc, ra, as in Drummelzier,
Knockknowes, Rachan; Cymric are caer, lin, pen, tor, tra, dre, as
in Cardrona, Linton, Lee Pen, Torwood, Traquair, Dreva; common to Gaelic
and Cymric are cad, loch, pol, as
in Caddon, Polmood. Most of the river-names are Cymric, as Tweed, Fruid,
Talla, Manor, Leithen, Yarrow, Tima. Cymric names are remarkable for their
melody, as is clear from the rhythm of the following couplet formed of
place-names in order of locality:
"Garlavin, Cardon, Cardrona, Caerlee,
Penvenna, Penvalla, Trahenna, Traquair."
English roots are ton, stead, cote, burgh, worth,
heugh, law, edge, knowe, mount, head: Norse are grain (a
branching river or river valley), scaur, myre, hope (valley),
fell, rig (hill), holm, by. Sometimes a name has elements with
the same meaning from different tongues—a sign of mixture of peoples—as
Knockknowes (Celtic and English), Venlawhill (Celtic and two layers of
English). Norse words in common use, now or formerly, are awns
(spikes of barley), big (build), bygg (barley), gar,
gimmer, leister, ling, lowe (flame).
This district being for centuries part of the Anglian
kingdom of Northumbria, its language is descended from that
form of Northern English which came to be known as Lowland Scots. While
many linguistic features are common to Peebles and Selkirk, each shire has
certain peculiarities of its own, which tend more and more to disappear.
The Selkirk speech, however, is the more distinctive. The reason
apparently is that Ettrick and Yarrow districts owing to their
geographical situation were less affected by the speech of the Scottish
Court, and therefore by English and French influences, than Peebles.
Peebles belongs to the dialect division known as Eastern Mid-Lowland, and
Selkirk to that known as South Lowland.
The Selkirk dialect, probably the most direct
descendant of the old Anglian speech, is
characterised by a great variety of diphthongs and by its softness and
flexibility of intonation. The distinctions are as follows: final
u tends to become a diphthong. Peeblesshire
coo in Selkirk is nearer cuw
or English cow. Words like
see, me, we, he, dee (die) become
sey, mey, wey, etc. Peebles "you an’ me ‘ll poo
a pea" becomes in Selkirk "yow an’ mey ‘ll puy a pey."
Words like bore and foal
are diphthongized into buore
and fuol; words like name, dale,
tale are pronounced neb-um, deh-ul, teh-ul.
When the diphthongs uo (or
long vowel o) and ea
occur at the beginning of a word or are preceded
by h, the first develops into wu
and the second into ye. Orchard
is wurtshet; hole is hwull; whole
is byel; oats is
yetts; one is yin; earl is yen; home
is hyem; sky is
skyi; sword is pronounced with the w.
Finally the South Lowland is distinguished by its broad
pronunciation of the vowel in men, which
sounds like a in man. Penny is thus
pronounced like panny, while a as in
battle is often pronounced as o
in bottle: even educated
persons sometimes pronounce a in English father as fother.
The total population of Scotland at the last census was
4,759,445, 2,307,603 males, and 2,451,842 females,
or 106.2 females to 100 males. The figures for
Peebles are: males 7067, females 8191, total
15,258 ; or 114.4 females to
100 males; and for Selkirk: males 11,332,
females 13,268, or 117.08 females to 100
males. Peebles has 43.93 persons to the square mile. Only
five counties have a less density. Selkirk has 91.82 persons to the square
mile; and eighteen counties have a less density. The increase of the
population within the last 100 years has been greatest in the case of
Selkirk. This is due to the fact that it was at Galashiels and Selkirk
that the Tweed industry had its origin, reaching its greatest development
between 1861 and 1881.