Joseph Train (1759-1882)
Joseph Train an antiquary of some note first brought the Deil's Dyke to to the attention of George Chalmers (1742-1825), Scotland's most celebrated antiquary and thereby to a wider audience by way of Chalmers' epic work Caledonia. Train, a native of the parish of Sorn, Ayrshire appears to have been an extra-ordinary character and was known to the literary giants Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dicken, the latter heralding Train's acheievements thus
Joseph Train had laid the foundations of the notion of one unitary defensive rampart crossing Galloway. On these were established the belief that the Novantae, the tribe that inhabited these lands during and prior to Roman occupation (ca. AD80-400), had erected the wall to prevent attacks from the neighbouring Damnoni tribe to the north. Over a 100 years would pass before Joseph Train's theory was systematically dismantled and rebuilt by fellow antiquaries, by which time however the concept of the Deil's Dyke had become firmly embedded in the historical and archaeological records of several parish histories of south-west of Scotland.
The Deil's Dyke , Galloway
In the years spanning 1912-1920 the Ancient Monument Commissioners prepared the Inventories of Wigtonshire (1912), Kirkcudbrightshire (1914) and Dumfriesshire (1920). During the preceding field-work (1911-1915) the existence of the Deil's Dyke was assumed, but its reputed remains were considered in isolation, as opposed to a unitary rampart that spanned these three counties. However, in the following years during the preparation of the Inventory of Roxburghshire, the Commissioners studied the Catrail, an ancient linear earthwork, and deemed it appropriate to undertake a further study of Deil's Dyke, as a potential counterpart in Galloway. This new study of the Deil's Dyke as a single entity in Galloway was undertaken by A. Graham and his conclusion on Train's pan-Galloway rampart was succinct and without subtlety
Nevertheless, Graham remained upbeat that a section of the Deil's Dyke (see AA in map) did indeed resemble a unitary earthwork, comparable with the Catrail in Roxburghshire, such that it was worthy of further study. The section lay in upper Nithsdale and is discussed under the chapter on Dumfriesshire and Ayrshire.
History of the parish of New Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland
'His antiquarian deeds were numerous and important, he traced an ancient wall, built, it is thought, by the aborigines, from Loch-ryan, in Wigtonshire, to the northeast border of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, where it joins Nithsdale. This wall the country people call the Deil's Dyke; it consists of a strong wall eight feet broad, the base of which is built of stones, or where stones were not to be had, of earth. Its course extends to more than fifty-three miles. "All the late antiquarian discoveries in Scotland sink into insignificance," exclaims George Chalmers, "compared with the Deil's Dyke!`' They know not who built it, but conjecture that the Romanized Britons raised it ;
and their labours, poor fellows, go to the credit of the "Deil.
'Only one conclusion can be drawn from the facts set forth above, and that is that the Deil's Dyke as described by Train does not, in fact, exist. All the supposed remains of it between Loch Ryan and the Water of Deugh can be explained in terms of some function in the local economy, they show no common constructional features, and several of them are clearly of no great age. On all these grounds the idea of an originally continuous work, traversing the whole breadth of Galloway must now be given up for good, and with it will naturally disappear the concept of a Deil's Dyke extending from sea to sea'
Map of Joseph Tain's
Deil's Dyke in Galloway
Loch o' the Lowes