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Clydesdale’s Heritage Introduction

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Clydesdale’s Heritage – an overview

Clydesdale is chiefly a rural part of South Lanarkshire though some parts in the north are heavily urbanized.. It includes the parishes of Biggar, Carluke, Carmichael, Carnwath, Carstairs, Covington, Crawford, Crawfordjohn, Dalserf, Douglas, Dunsyre, ,Lamington and Wandel, Lanark, Leadhills, Lesmahagow, Libberton, Pettinain, Roberton, Symington, Thankerton and Wiston.

Clydesdale Map in Scotland

The Natural Environment

Much of Clydesdale drained by the Clyde with the exception of the Biggar Water which runs east into the Tweed.

In geological terms, part of the region lies within the Midland Valley, a geological rift valley between the Highland Boundary Fault to the north and the Southern Upland Fault to the south. The solid geology falls into two main areas separated by the Southern Upland Fault, which runs south-west from Biggar to beyond Crawfordjohn.

The solid geology to the north is generally sedimentary, consisting of Old Red Sandstone and Carboniferous formations. There are also igneous outcrops, including plugs, dykes, sills and other intrusions, as well as lavas and tuffs. Carboniferous limestones, grits and coal measures form the lower-lying ground and basin areas in the north. To the south of the fault, the solid geology consists mainly of marine greywacke and shales of Ordovician and lower Silurian age. Most of the upper Clyde Valley was cut by pre-glacial rivers over millions of years, and it was further deepened by retreating glaciers. Meltwater from the glaciers created some of the drift geology, leaving deep deposits of sand and gravel along the Clyde’s tributaries. Much of the rest of the area is covered with boulder clay and morainic drift, with small expanses of peat on the upland fringes to the east and west.

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Glacial Flow
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The region’s topography has been shaped by the solid geology. The area to the south of the Southern Upland Fault is generally hilly with deeply incised valleys, the hills reaching to 732 on Green Lowther near Leadhills and 748 m on the border with Peeblesshire. To the north of the fault, this gives way to a more open, rolling landscape. The igneous intrusion of Tinto Hill (707 m), just north of the fault line, is the most prominent landform, affording views as far as Cumbria, Ireland and the Grampians. Distinctive gorges along the River Clyde near Lanark and the Avon Water near Hamilton provide an important range of habitats.

The higher ground in the region supports extensive areas of upland pasture, heather moorland and coniferous forestry plantations. Blanket bogs also lie on poorly drained ground and upland areas, such as the Lang Whang . The lowland areas contain large tracts of improved grassland, although there are pockets of woodlands, wetlands, heaths and mires throughout.

History of Research in Clydesdale

The extremely rich and varied historical and archaeological heritage of the region has been the subject of some systematic study relating to particular areas or periods. However, no up-to-date and comprehensive publications exist for the region.

Archaeology and Built Heritage

The main repositories of information on archaeological sites and monuments in South Lanarkshire are the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) maintained by the West of Scotland Archaeology Service (WoSAS) and the National Monuments Record of Scotland (NMRS) maintained by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). Historic Scotland holds information about listed buildings, scheduled ancient monuments and inventoried gardens and designed landscapes.

South Lanarkshire contains many impressive earthwork monuments, which have tended to draw the attention of those studying its archaeology. When the Ordnance Survey mapped Lanarkshire in the 1850s, they drew detailed plans of monuments and recorded local knowledge of sites and place names. One of the earliest systematic studies of the archaeology was by David Christison, who set out to study ‘the primitive fortresses of Scotland’; he produced the ambitious and wide-ranging Early Fortifications in Scotland (1898), which described many of the region’s hillforts. The RCAHMS published a detailed inventory of the prehistoric and Roman monuments in Lanarkshire in 1978 (RCAHMS 1978), incorporating records made by the Ordnance Survey in the nineteenth and twentieth century as well as its own systematic surveys. The northern portion of the area covered by the volume now forms part of North Lanarkshire.

Henge Earthworks, Crawford

Henge Earthworks

Until recently, archaeological investigation in the region has been somewhat piecemeal and reactive. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century landowners excavated sites such as burial cairns, leaving scanty records, and in other cases ploughing, draining and construction unearthed artefacts and other traces; the SMR holds information on some of these finds. Prehistoric monuments on the uplands of Cloburn, Cairngryffe and Blackshouse were variously investigated by Childe (1941), Stevenson (1976) and in the 1980s by the former Central Excavation Unit (SDD/HBM) (Lanark and District Archaeological Society )(Lelong and Pollard 1998a; 1998b) for research and rescue purposes.

Beginning in the 1990s, more systematic archaeological study began to focus on the upper Clyde Valley, prompted by the upgrading of 55 miles of the A74 to motorway in the mid 1990s. Lanark and District Archaeological Society and the Biggar Museum Trust, both voluntary organisations, raised concerns that the road works would destroy archaeological heritage; the then Clydesdale District Council agreed that this presented an opportunity to investigate the archaeology along the road corridor (Ward 1992). Volunteers carried out detailed survey of the area, and further survey and rescue excavations by Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD) followed. It involved the investigation of 28 sites, ranging from the Mesolithic to the Medieval period, as well as research into the ancient environment (Banks in prep).

Both the Lanark and District Archaeological Society and the Biggar Museum Archaeology Group have been extremely active in recent decades and both continue to carry out research and fieldwork. They regularly seize opportunities for fieldwalking throughout Clydesdale ,surveying land that has been disturbed by forestry activity (for example, on Biggar Common) or exposed through dropping water levels (around the Daer Reservoir),

daer Reservoir Excavations

They record upstanding sites in upland areas, and undertake small scale excavations on threatened sites both urban and rural. Their work has added significantly to the body of knowledge on South Lanarkshire’s archaeology and contributed numerous entries to the SMR; this has been ongoing since 1975. From 1995 to 2001, Glasgow University’s Upper Clyde Valley Project also conducted a programme of research that involved aerial reconnaissance, field walking, geophysical survey and excavation to identify new sites and refine the region’s chronology. The Blackshouse Burn Environs Project (Lelong et al 2005) also examined the prehistoric landscapes around Carmichael.

The advent of developer-funded archaeology has also led to the investigation of some archaeological sites, although as much of the region is rural, this has mainly consisted of work along the route of the M74 in the south and small-scale projects elsewhere. More recently, the M74 completion project in the north has prompted excavation and recording of several early modern domestic and industrial sites.

The region contains some fine historic buildings, many of them A- or B-listed and first systematically described by MacGibbon and Ross in their works on Domestic and Castellated Architecture and Ecclesiastical Architecture – dates of both vols to be inserted . The RCAHMS has created a innovative website that recreates the now-lost Hamilton Palace through virtual reconstruction (

Historical Research

No complete, integrated history of South Lanarkshire so far exists, although the parishes that make it up are fairly well documented. The Old and New Statistical Accounts, dating to the 1790s and 1840s respectively, provide detailed accounts of the economic and social state of each parish at those times. Later a very comprehensive history of the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire was written by Irving and Murray in 1864, this is particularly good on the archaeology of the area. In the 1930’s a two volume history of Lanarkshire was produced by Wilson which has a fair amount of useful information. The large settlements have some fine local histories which are well worth consulting these vary from Francis Groome’s Ordnance Survey Gazetteer series, published in the late nineteenth century, is a valuable source that includes descriptions of villages, towns and parishes( Apart from the overall survey’s of South Lanarkshire , there are a fair number of local histories which include a detailed history of Leadhills and Wanlockhead – God’s Own Treasure House in Scotland to the Annals of Lesmahagow by the author.

Lanark PontTimothy Pont’s (1596) map of Glasgow and the County of Lanark is the first detailed cartographic depiction of South Lanarkshire.





Blaeu’s (1654) using Pont’s maps created two maps – Upper and Lower Clydesdale, Moll’s (1745) The Shire of Clydesdale or Lanerk show the locations of settlements and some roads. Roy’s (1747-55) Military Survey of Scotland shows not only pre Improvement Agriculture but considerable detail of the various settlements. After Roy a series of strip road maps were produced in 1777 by Skinner – useful for looking at the development of estates in Lanarkshire. Skinner’s maps were followed by Forrest’s map of 1819 and Thomson’s map of 1832 – these maps are of great value as regards an examination of South Lanarkshire prior to the age of Industrial Revolution. The Ordnance Survey maps of Lanarkshire, first surveyed in 1856-59 and revised in 1892-97 and 1908-11; these document changes to settlement, agriculture and industry over a period of rapid change.

Several useful works written in the last two centuries collate detailed information on the history and archaeology of specific areas. The Origines Parochiales Scotiae (Bannatyne Club 1851) brings together evidence from early charters and church records, particularly pertaining to early ecclesiastical activity but also histories of landownership.

Lesmahagow Priory walls range east 

Capture220px-Tonsure_fx_trMonastic records too are very useful in particularly the records relating to the Priory of Lesmahagow in the Liber de Kelso.
Apart from the Ecclesiastical records there are useful pieces of information regarding South Lanarkshire such as the Ragman’s Roll 1296 , the Scottish Government records and for the later Middle Ages the records of Property transfer. But the most useful is perhaps the Court book of the Burgh of Carnwath which covers the period 1512-1542..The late seventeenth century sees a number of accounts of the deeds of local Covenanters but the most interesting book of that era is Andrew Hay of Craignethan’s diary.

Lesmahagow Missal

lesmahagow missal










Irving’s (1864) The Upper Ward of Lanarkshire draws together information from parish records, charters and estate papers, and includes a history of the mines at Leadhills. Thomas Reid (1928) and Hugh Davidson (1910) collected abundant historical information for the parishes of Crawfordjohn and Lanark respectively, and a similar study has been published for the burgh of Lanark (Robertson 1974). See remarks above

More recently, studies of the social and economic history of Hamilton District have been published, including a guide to further reading and research (Burns, Reid and Walker 1995). Works have also been published on the mills at New Lanark (Donnachie and Hewitt 1993), and a field guide to Upper Clydesdale (Martin 1999) combines historical information with archaeological description. The Lanarkshire Heritage Series has published several valuable collections of early photographs and descriptions of Hamillon, Carluke, Larkhall, Lanark, Strathaven, Stonehouse, Old East Kilbride and the Clyde Valley. The Scottish Mining Website


miningcontains abundant information on the mining industry and the lives of miners, including contemporary government reports, newspaper articles and other accounts. The information is organised by parish and also by themes such as health, disease and housing.

Overview of the Archaeology and History of the Area

Upper Paleolithic

Mesolithic – Bronze Age

Mesolithic (c. 7,500 – 4,000 BC)

Into the post-glacial landscape as early as 7,500 BC ventured small, fairly mobile groups of people who lived by gathering wild plants, fishing and hunting animals in the scrub woodlands. A dated pollen core from Clydes Burn, near Beattock Summit, showed a sudden increase in hazel and then birch forests around 7750 BC, followed by oak and elm around 7500 BC.

alderAlder increased along rivers and lochs from about 5400 BC, perhaps indicating wetter conditions (Banks in prep).

South Lanarkshire has an unusually rich array of archaeological sites from this period. Many of these are known as scatters of lithics – small stone tools and the debris (or debitage) from their manufacture. A remarkable concentration has been found in the Daer Valley in the Southern Uplands, and these have produced some of the earliest dating evidence for human activity anywhere in Scotland. Biggar Museum Archaeology Group monitored erosion during periods of low water along the Daer Reservoir and found seven Mesolithic knapping sites, where microliths for hunting were made from chert and flint. Charcoal from a pit associated with about 2,000 pieces of worked chert was dated to 8550 – 7950 BC. Several lithic scatters have also been found on the valley’s upper slopes, some of them near tributary burns, in areas disturbed by forestry planting. Coomb Rig Site 84 was a scatter of blades, microliths, scrapers and other tools and tool-making debitage in chert and flint, along with a hearth pit filled with hazel charcoal and burnt stones; the charcoal dated to 4350 – 4040 BC. Both the chert and the flint must have been brought to the sites for working, as neither occurs naturally in the Daer Valley (Ward 2005).

Mesolithic people

These small, discrete lithic scatters and hearths might be the residues of temporary camps. They show that people were passing back and forth along the valley over several thousand years, probably using river courses as routes through the uplands. The Daer Valley, for example, links the Clyde Valley to the north with the Rivers Annan and Nith to the south.

Some sites hint at more lengthy occupation: small, nomadic communities may have returned over many generations to the same spots to camp, hunt and make tools. At Weston Farm, Biggar Museum Archaeology Group excavated an extensive lithic scatter and found hundreds of Mesolithic tools and debitage fragments, along with several pits; charcoal from one dated to 7030 – 6650 BC, and from another to 5050 – 4800 BC. Another large, diffuse scatter was found at Brownsbank Farm to the east, again with remains from later periods, while a late Mesolithic knapping floor with a hearth scoop and windbreak were found under a lithic scatter at Carmichael (Lelong et al 2005). The number and quality of Mesolithic sites in South Lanarkshire signify the area’s high potential for yielding much more information about contemporary life through further research.
mesollithicOther evidence of Mesolithic people has been found through fieldwalking and excavation by Lanark and District Archaeological Society. Principally at Biggar Common where they located a burnt, stake-built structure, with charcoal from the stakes dating to 5490 – 4908 and 5220 – 4847 BC as well as scatters of lithics . Similar evidence was found by the Lanark and District Archaeological Society along the Lang Whang from Redford Bridge to South Tabrax. At the Neolithic enclosure of Blackshouse Burn (see below), a dated pollen core showed a marked decline in tree cover and an increase in heather in an upland basin from about 7,000 BC onward; this would have been due to human impact, and people may have been burning down trees in order to flush out game (Ramsay 1999). Places like this began to be perceived as important in the Mesolithic; those meanings were expressed in more dramatic ways, through monument building, in the Neolithic.

Neolithic (c. 4,000 – 2,500 BC)

From the early fourth millennium BC, communities in South Lanarkshire as elsewhere in Scotland began to experience radical changes, adopting agriculture, new forms of architecture, ideas and beliefs, and knowledge of how to make pottery and new kinds of stone tools, such as axes. South Lanarkshire contains some of the highest concentrations of Neolithic remains in lowland Scotland; this partly reflects the amount of investigation carried out here and the low levels of urban development, which have swept away most contemporary sites in other parts of the West of Scotland, but it probably also stems from the vibrance of Neolithic communities and culture along the Clyde Valley.

Much of the landscape would have been wooded at the start of this period. Equipped with stone axes, communities began to cut down trees for fuel and buildings, making clearings for arable crops and grazing. Farming and animal husbandry required people to settle in a particular locality (although people may have retained some mobility, as indicated by leaf-shaped arrowheads

leafprobably lost during hunts near Daer Valley Reservoir and the Lang Whang). This altered relationship with the land may have led them to build monuments that expressed changing beliefs about the world – sometimes in places that had been significant to their more nomadic ancestors during the Mesolithic.

During the earlier Neolithic, communities built massive cairns of earth and stone, often on watersheds and other high points in the landscape. Several are known in South Lanarkshire, including a much-robbed chambered cairn at Burngrange and a long cairn at Greens Moor.

linsayA possible causewayed enclosure and a pit-defined cursus have also been identified at West Lindsaylands. These and other large structures dating to the earlier Neolithic (such as mortuary enclosures and timber halls, none of which are known here) followed architectural conventions that prevailed across western Europe, Britain and Ireland; this hints at a new degree of social conformity and cohesion, which might have arisen from the communal effort and cooperation that farming required. Monuments like these were concerned with the dead and the spirit world, perhaps linked to beliefs that ancestors could help ensure the success of farming endeavours – and the survival of the living.

From the late fourth millennium onward, people began building henges – circular banks and ditches, sometimes with timber or stone circles inside, which were used to hold gatherings, ceremonies and feasts. Seven of these are known in South Lanarkshire, all of them close to the River Clyde or its tributaries to the east. Two (Normangill and Weston) are still upstanding; others, such as Balwaistie and Craigie Burn, have been identified as cropmarks through aerial photography. At Hillend, excavation outside the enclosure found pits full of later Neolithic Grooved Ware pottery, burnt bone, seeds and flint tools (Armit 1994). Brownsbank Farm, another cropmark henge, was found to enclose traces of a rectangular building, reminiscent of the large timber halls of the early Neolithic – perhaps a reincarnation of an ancestral tradition. Of the known stone henges perhaps the most complete was discovered by Tam Ward and the group from Biggar Museum near ? The henges demonstrate a good knowledge of mathematics , using the megalithic yard and the principles of Pythagorean geometry. The henges seem to indicate the importance of worship of the ssun and the moon and as such were used as a calendar for farming activities.

One of the largest and most spectacular Neolithic monuments in Britain lies in an upland basin to the west of the River Clyde, at Blackshouse Burn (Lelong & Pollard 1998a). A low, broad bank describes a ring about 300 m in diameter, making it comparable in size to the grand henges of Durrington Walls and Avebury in Wiltshire or Forteviot in Strathearn. Excavation showed that the enclosure was originally defined by a double row of massive oak posts; one of the surviving waterlogged posts was radiocarbon dated to 2467-2453 BC. Stone was then heaped between the posts and later over the decayed stumps. It appears to have been built in segments, perhaps by different groups or over a long period. The enclosure refers to water: the double heads of the Blackshouse Burn rise up inside it and part of the bank was built on a bog. The pollen evidence showing forest clearance around 7,000 BC suggests people were hunting here in the Mesolithic (Ramsay 1999). Later, Neolithic communities may have brought herds to basin for summer grazing, where there was a plentiful supply of water. The monument’s size suggests it was built by and for large groups of people, who may have travelled long distances for seasonal gatherings linked to summer transhumance. A large number of stone axes have been found in South Lanarkshire (Clough and Cummins 1988) – for instance, at Bizzyberry Hill and Lochylock Farm – with a particular concentration east of the Clyde between Carnwath and Lamington. Many of them were made from Cumbria though one from Biggar Common came from the East Riding of Yorkshire, suggesting that communities living in the upper Clyde Valley had extensive geographical links. Carved stone balls like the stray find from Biggarshiels also indicate wider contact with groups elsewhere in Scotland.

While beliefs evolved and successive generations expressed them in different ways, respect for certain traditions and places in the landscape endured. On Biggar Common, another place that first acquired meaning in the Mesolithic was revisited and reworked many times. The stake-built structure built in the later fifth or early fourth millennium BC (see above) was sealed about 1,000 years later by sherds of Carinated Bowl pottery and the remains of large bonfires that burned between 4234 and 3790 BC. An earthen long cairn was later built on top, and this was augmented with more earth and stones over time. Finally, late in the Neolithic, two burial pits were dug into the mound (Johnston 1997). Another sequence of long-term ritual activity occurred at Stoneyburn, where people put pieces of Carinated Bowl pottery and stone tools into several pits in the late fourth millennium BC (Banks 1995). This practice of putting meaningful objects into the ground began in the early Neolithic, and might have been a ritual metaphor for burying seeds that would sprout and grow into food. The practice evolved, using different objects and varying kinds of deposition, throughout subsequent millennia, at this site and others (see below).

The locations of Neolithic settlement in South Lanarkshire are more elusive, and were probably much more ephemeral than the dramatic ceremonial monuments. They are sometimes identified as scatters of stone tools and pottery that have been disturbed and spread by ploughing or forestry planting, such as those found through fieldwalking on Biggar Common. Where these have been excavated, they often lie above plough-truncated pits, hearths and other traces of domestic occupation – as, for example, at Weston Farm. More fieldwork is needed to better understand the relationships between Neolithic monuments and contemporary settlements, through (for example) field walking around monuments to identify and excavate artefact scatters that might mark settlement sites.

Bronze Age (c. 2,500 – 750 BC)

In contrast to the archaeology of the preceding millennia, numerous traces of settlement are known from the Bronze Age in this area, especially from the early second millennium BC onward. What are termed unenclosed platform settlements have been found across the Southern Uplands and into northern England, and the evidence suggests that communities began living in smaller, more mobile groups on the uplands. Almost all of the known sites in South Lanarkshire are in the southern part of the region, along the upper Clyde Valley. Their distribution probably reflects a period of warmer and drier weather, when habitation was feasible at higher altitudes than before.

Unenclosed platform settlements consist of level scoops into the hillside, defined by scarps and sometimes stony banks. Each scoop formed the platform for a house, and a settlement could range from one or two houses to more than 30. Dense clusters occur along hillsides lining the upper reaches of the River Clyde and its tributary burns the Potrail Water, the Elvan Water, the Midlock Water, the Duneaton Water and the Glengonnar Water, with a notable cluster around the confluence of the Daer Water and the Clyde. Often, as at Tinto Hill and North Shortcleuch, the platforms lie among or beside field systems represented by small cairns, built from stone cleared from the fields, with stony banks around the cultivated areas.
These constitute the greatest collection of housing in one areas in the whole of Scotland.

At Lintshie Gutter, a settlement of 32 platforms along the 300 m contour was investigated in advance of construction of the M74 motorway. Excavation of eight of the platforms found traces of five round houses defined by ring-grooves, which would have been timber-framed with conical roofs (Terry 1995, 419); some had been rebuilt several times. One platform with a stone-walled enclosure may have been used as a byre. Another contained an oven, built into the back of the house and surrounded by ashes and pottery. Quern stones found nearby were probably used to grind grain to make bread that was baked in the oven. Radiocarbon dates show the settlement was mainly in use during the first half of the second millennium BC, but it may have been established as early as the mid third millennium (Terry 1995, 424). Excavation of another platform at Bodsberry Hill, 5 km to the south-east, yielded a similar date of between 2033 and 1304 BC (Terry 1994). While these findings have begun to clarify the nature and chronology of unenclosed platform settlements, excavation on more of these sites would help to illuminate when they were first built and how long the settlement form continued in use.

In the pollen core from Clydes Burn, 6 km away, pollen types associated with human activity began to increase around 2550 BC and reached their first peak between 1415 and 1310 BC, when cereal pollen first appeared. This suggests that communities were occupying and farming these uplands from the beginning of the Bronze Age, perhaps creating clearings in the forests for small-scale agriculture. Charcoal from Lintshie Gutter indicated they were using birch, hazel and alder for fuel and construction. Cereals appear to have formed a small part of their diet, so they may have focused more on raising and managing stock.

Burnt mounds are also scattered over the uplands of South Lanarkshire. Their distribution closely matches that of the known unenclosed platform settlements and they are sometimes found close by, as at Troloss. At Crawford, two burnt mounds excavated in advance of the M74 construction were used between 2315-1766 BC, around the same time that Lintshie Gutter was occupied and the cairns at Stoneyburn (see below) were built (Banks 1995). Recent survey work in the far south of the region, around the Daer Reservoir, has identified many more next to burns and springs on the surrounding uplands, such as the one at Sweetshaw Burn. Their distribution may reflect hunting on the uplands, with the mounds created as kills were butchered and boiled to preserve the meat and make it easier to carry.

ring_ditches_near_nortonIn lower lying areas of the region, the remains of circular structures known as ring-ditches have been identified, usually from aerial photographs. A few upstanding examples, with banks of earth and stone, have been identified at Easton-Medwyn Water and Townfoot. The excavation of a group of ring-ditches known from aerial photographs at Clachan Burn confirmed that this kind of monument had a long currency and a range of uses.

Of the five ring-ditches investigated, one was a house dating to the Bronze Age, while the others were of later date (see below). Elsewhere in southern Scotland, ring-ditches have been found to sometimes enclose burials and other ceremonial traces, and at least some of the unexcavated examples in South Lanarkshire may have been for a similar purpose rather than for dwelling.

Similarly, the clusters of small stone cairns found over much of the region are not always the result of agricultural clearance for field systems. For example, seven cairns among a cairnfield of twenty were excavated at Fall Kneesend before construction of the M74 motorway. One of them covered a deposit of cremated bone dating to the mid third millennium BC, and stone cists found under several others suggest they may have also held cremation burials which did not survive in the acidic soil conditions. Other, definite burial cairns have been excavated, for example at Fall Hill. Although barrows are relatively rare, one was discovered by aerial photography – it has not been excavated to my knowledge at Lanark Race Course and another group has been identified at Muirhead (RCAHMS 1978, 7). Possible burial cairns have been identified through survey elsewhere among groups of smaller cairns, for instance at Ellershie Burn. The practice of building cairns may have developed from the chambered and long cairns of the early Neolithic; while the Bronze Age cairns tend to be more diminutive, they can still be monumental – as in the case of the cairn crowning Tinto Hill,

tinto-hillone of the largest in Scotland. In some cases, small cairns cluster around large ones, suggesting extended use of a site, as at Kersewell Mains (ibid., 10). Other Bronze Age ceremonial monuments such as standing stones and stone circles have been recorded in the region, although many have since been destroyed. Some have survived in the southern, upland reaches, such as the one close to an extensive settlement at Crookedstane, Elvanfoot. Only a few examples of contemporary rock art are known, such as that at Burnbrae barrow (ibid., 14). Several enclosed cremation cemeteries are also known in South Lanarkshire, including those at Wester Yardhouses, Wildshaw Burn and Fall Hill (close to the unenclosed platform settlement at Normangill Rig) and Fallburn near Tinto. Two small, circular ditched enclosures, at Bizzyberry Hill and Windy Gate, may be funerary monuments that echo the architecture of henges (ibid., 8).

There is abundant and complex evidence for the treatment of the dead, ritual activity and other expressions of belief about the supernatural in South Lanarkshire. During the late third millennium BC, a trend developed for the burial of inhumations (bodies rather than cremated remains) in cists, sometimes accompanied by distinctive pots known as Beakers. Most of the known burial cists in South Lanarkshire are in the northern part of the region, but this probably mirrors the areas of more intensive development and other activity which led to their accidental discovery; the majority were found during the nineteenth or early twentieth century. Some of the cists held only inhumations, like the one at Newbiggingmill Quarry that contained the flexed skeleton of a woman, with a Beaker and a flint knife by her head. At other sites, some of the cists held cremations and others inhumations, both accompanied by urns – as at Ferniegair and Knocken in Lesmahagow. Still others consisted of both cists and pits containing cremations, but no inhumations, as at Elmwood Nursery. This variety highlights the fact that these were not simple formal burials in the modern sense. Not all people were treated the same way after death; only a small proportion had their remains formally deposited, and even they were treated in varying ways. Human remains and certain artefacts were perceived as spiritually potent materials, and they were combined in different ways to achieve different social or spiritual outcomes.

In some cases, groups returned to sites of much earlier activity to leave deposits of human bone. People put a cremation in an urn into the bank of the Blackshouse Burn enclosure. At Stoneyburn, between 1900 and 1520 BC, two pits were dug and the partial cremated remains of two women were put into them, along with burnt faience beads and a complete pygmy cup. Small stone cairns were then built on top, and also over the pits containing early Neolithic pottery (see above) (Banks 1995).

At Cloburn Quarry, in the same upland landscape occupied by the Blackshouse Burn enclosure, one of the most complex Bronze Age monuments known in South Lanarkshire was excavated before its destruction by quarrying (Lelong & Pollard 1998b). The Lanark and District Archaeological Society identified the earliest phase of occupation as relating to the Neolithic era with the excavation of a number of pits containing pottery and lithics. Its construction began between 1910 and 1620 BC a ring of posts was built around a cremation in a pit; this was repeatedly elaborated with another post ring, a ring of stones, further cremations and an earthen bank. Charcoal from pyres, burnt human and animal bone and imported red felsite chips were gradually deposited over many episodes of use, along with the beads from a cannel coal necklace and sherds of Beaker pottery. A ring of stones was placed around the area, and finally a flat stone cairn was built on top. The acts in evidence here, involving both the living and the dead, illustrate a change in burial practice: from a few discrete, private receptacles for human remains (pits and urns) to a more communal practice involving more of the dead, with bone left exposed to the elements after cremation and scattered over the monument.

Courtesy Ordnance Survey below:

limefieldThe cairn at Limefield, which contained both inhumations in cists and cremations in urns, along with urns and jet and flint objects, further illustrates the complexity of burial practice during the Bronze Age (RCAHMS 1978).
The Bronze Age takes its name from the metal-working technology that people began to adopt from the mid third millennium BC and the objects they made and deposited – yet these make up a relatively small proportion of the known archaeology relating to this period in South Lanarkshire. Several bronze objects of the period have been recovered as stray finds, although most are poorly provenanced, such a spearhead from Douglas, a palstave from Kersewell and a sword from Cowgill. A hoard of broken and partly melted objects, including 28 spearheads, an axe, a sword, a ferrule and three rings, was found in a bog at Peelhill. It dates to the sixth or seventh century BC. While it may have been a collection of scrap metal intended for re-use, its context of discovery in a bog

suggests it was an intentional votive deposit. Gold was also deposited: a gold ribbon torc was found at Culter Parish and two gold armlets came from Stonehill Wood. Bronze and gold (and the transformative powers of metallurgy that produced them) may have been regarded as special and magical, and their deposition in boggy or watery places may have been intended as sacrifices or gifts to supernatural powers. The spread of the technology and of metalwork styles show wide-ranging contacts between different parts of Britain and Europe, and this may have been linked to the formation of a society that was divided on class lines. This reflected in the discovery during the 19th century of the gold lunulae at Southside Farm near Biggar .

The gold is thought to be alluvial gold mw-dg878_gold_zg_20150304013058that came from the Leadhills/ Wanlockhead area.





Iron Age – Early Medieval

Iron Age (c. 750 BC – AD 400)

From the late second millennium and especially the mid first millennium BC, communities in southern Scotland shifted their increasingly concerted efforts into agriculture and settlement construction on a larger scale. Much of the archaeology from this period in South Lanarkshire consists of forts or enclosed settlements, often set on hills and defined by banks and sometimes ditches. Many lie on the hills to either side of the River Clyde, with another concentration around Biggar and a few outliers to the west. Some, like Nether Hangingshaw, have been identified as cropmarks through aerial survey. Others survive as upstanding monuments on hilltops, and different phases of construction can be discerned through detailed survey. At both Nisbet and Cow Castle, for example, survey has shown that two new ramparts were built to reduce the size of the original fort, while at Langloch Knowe two original ramparts were replaced by a single wall that ran over them. This is in keeping with the evidence from elsewhere, where excavation has shown that many enclosures were repeatedly redesigned and refurbished.

The nature of the communities and households in these settlements is still largely unknown, but the surface remains hint at considerable complexity and variety. Many, such as Quothquan Law and Arbory Hill, have traces of round houses inside. These can be apparent as curvilinear scarps, cut to create a level platform for a house, or in some cases as ring-grooves; Devonshaw Hill contains both. Toftcombs has the visible remains of one large, circular house; this might have belonged to the prominent family in the settlement, with others occupying more lightly built dwellings, or the enclosure might have been home to only one household. At Ritchie Ferry, the traces of eight timber round houses are spaced evenly across the whole interior,here houses occur in only part of the enclosure, as at Cold Chapel, the rest might have been reserved for cattle.

Two of the northernmost, Dechmont Hill and Black Hill, Lesmahagow were built around earlier round cairns, and they may have evoked links to ancestral traditions. While Iron Age communities did not build large ceremonial monuments like those of previous millennia, excavations elsewhere have produced abundant evidence for small, symbolic or ritual acts within settlements, suggesting that beliefs about the supernatural became interwoven with daily life. A souterrain at Wester Yardhouses and other possible examples at Cloburn and Camp Knowe probably date to the later Iron Age. The waterlogged position of Cloburn could suggest that it had a religious role, related to beliefs about the supernatural properties of watery places. A beaten bronze cauldron found at Ellerslie Hill may have been a votive deposit from this period. The cauldron is of particular significance as communal feasting was a very important social activity in Celtic Society. Ceremonial and religious activities are not very well known though the discovery of a tricephalos at Netherton is indicative of typical Celtic religious practices in Lanarkshire in the Iron Age . The fact that it was discovered near the Clyde , is of interest as the Celts venerated water and rivers. The name Clyde is the Celtic word for a river . Celtic place name evidence is also shown by names such as Biggar – soft land / Quothquan – pointed hill.

Few enclosed settlements in South Lanarkshire have been excavated. Excavation of a fort on Cairngryffe Hill before its destruction by quarrying established that the original, stone-revetted rampart was replaced by a massive stone wall that enclosed a smaller area (Childe 1941). A timber building had abutted the wall. Finds included several bronze objects, among them a linch-pin from a wagon or chariot and a bronze terret typical of the north-east (RCAHMS 1978, 29).

Excavations elsewhere in southern Scotland have shown that, around the early to mid first millennium BC, small, dispersed, relatively transient settlements began to give way to these larger, formally enclosed settlements. This coincided with a significant burst in woodland clearance and management and more extensive farming, which would have required greater organisation and cooperation within communities, and more complex negotiation and competition between them for land and other resources. Clusters of households may have needed stronger communal identifies, and the construction of enclosures may have bolstered this as well as presented a strong, unified face to neighbours and potential enemies.

Because the enclosures often survive as dramatic, upstanding monuments, research has tended to focus upon them. However, it is possible that many if not most ordinary settlements were unenclosed; the enclosed ones might have belonged to wealthier, more powerful communities. Limited excavation has suggested that unenclosed platform settlements date to the later Bronze Age, but they may have been used well into the first millennium BC. The platform at Bodsberry Hill was used first in the mid second millennium BC (see above) and again during the last four centuries of the first millennium BC (Terry 1994). Likewise, the hut circles and ring-ditches recorded across the region may as well date to the Iron Age as the Bronze Age; three of the timber round houses at Clachan Burn were of early to middle Iron Age date. The house platforms and cairns on Cairngryffe Hill, close to the fort, could represent contemporary occupation. Stray finds such as the unfinished jet armlet from South Medwin Burn could also point to the locations of settlement.

Communities in the enclosed and unenclosed settlements used the surrounding landscape for arable and pastoral farming. Traces of cultivation are visible in the vicinity of some, such as the narrow (or ‘cord’) rig next to Arbory Hill. Analysis of the pollen core from Clydes Burn, a few kilometres from Bodsberry Hill, found evidence about 800 BC for the recovery of woodland that had been extensively cleared in the preceding millennium and a corresponding decline in grass and other indicators of farming – perhaps linked to climatic deterioration, as there was also evidence for increased rainfall. Soon afterward, however, woodland clearance and agricultural indicators increased, peaking between 135 and 225 AD (Banks in prep).

Example crannog:

crannogTwo crannogs are known in South Lanarkshire, at Hyndford and Green Knowe. Hyndford was excavated, producing a rich array of evidence for the lives of its inhabitants. A circular timber house, supported by several rings of posts, was built on a brushwood base at the edge of a small loch. There were three hearths on the clay floor, and one had been rebuilt twice; the floor and hearth levels had also been raised several times as the brushwood foundation gradually subsided. A thick layer of charcoal, ashes, animal bone and other midden material had built up inside the house, with sherds of pottery, stone tools such as spindle whorls and whetstones, iron tools and traces of metalworking. Bronze ornaments, including brooches and rings, and glass beads and bangle fragments were also found. Sherds of Roman pottery and an elaborate torc made of large, cast bronze beads show the crannog was occupied in the first to early second century AD.

A single lowland broch is to be found at Calla, part of a diffuse scatter of these fortified dwellings in southern Scotland. It has not been excavated, but other sites in the wider region have been dated to the first to second centuries AD.

The relationships between those living in crannogs, the broch and enclosed and unenclosed settlements is far from clear. The chronology of enclosure and the longevity and nature of unenclosed settlements are also poorly understood for this area. There is considerable scope for further research to understand the nature of life in Iron Age South Lanarkshire; a good body of knowledge exists for other parts of southern Scotland, which could be used to frame research questions for this understudied area.

The last 300 years of the Iron Age overlap with the period when the Roman army occupied this part of Scotland in relatively short bursts. The roads the army built would have cut through landscapes that were already highly organised and settled by indigenous communities, and their forts, fortlets and temporary camps established a more permanent presence. Even though none of the occupations lasted took place over a few decades, the presence of a large, hostile force that was culturally and linguistically alien and that reorganised the region to suit its imperial ends would have created lasting impressions on the land and its inhabitants. It is difficult to say how much resistance the army met or whether relations improved, but the number of fortifications and the brevity of the incursions give an impression of tension and military control. The picture in South Lanarkshire and the west of Scotland in general contrasts with that on the east, for example in East Lothian, where very few fortifications were built. However, finds of Roman material on indigenous sites such as Hyndford crannog are evidence of contact even from the earliest days of Roman Occupation of Southern Scotland

Roman (AD 80 – 400)

Late 1st Century Roman Legionnaires

legionary-segmentata-01Roman_Cavalry_2_-_croppedThe River Clyde forms one of the main natural corridors through southern Scotland to the Forth-Clyde isthmus. It and its tributary valleys were important arteries for invasion, communication and supply for the Roman army during the Flavian (c AD 80-84) and Antonine (c AD 139-158) incursions into Scotland. During the Flavian incursion, the army’s efforts in this area focused on subjugating the tribes of south-west Scotland, especially the hostile Selgovae of the Southern Uplands, while the Antonine incursion was designed to quell the tribes that were putting pressure on the northern frontier. With the latter, the region came under more direct and entrenched military control.

As the army penetrated new territory, troops rapidly threw up temporary camps (also known as marching camps) to protect themselves during overnight stays. Aerial photography has revealed a number of these including a particularly fine example at Castledykes with its distinctive clavicular gateways. Seventeen of these typically playing-card shaped camps are known in South Lanarkshire, and their distribution traces the main avenues of incursion – although their chronology is not well understood. A line of camps dots up the River Clyde as it flows north from Beattock Summit. Some of these survive as upstanding monuments, like Little Clyde with its rock-cut ditch; others, such as Crawford and Lamington, are only apparent as cropmarks on aerial photographs. Maxwell and Wilson (1987) have identified a suite of several camps possibly relating to the initial incursion under Agricola, at Kirkhouse, Cornhill, Wandel and Cold Chapel; however, none has been securely dated through excavation. Another important concentration marks a line of penetration east to west further down the Clyde, and two are known to the west along the valley of the Avon Water. Some of these camps may have been built during the Antonine incursion; those at Cleghorn, Bankhead and Little Clyde are of a consistent medium size and respect the line of the adjacent Roman road, suggesting that they post-date it (Hanson and Maxwell 1986, 65-68). Where two overlapping camps exist, one must have been built on the site of an earlier camp; however, these need not relate to the Flavian and Antonine phases respectively. The two overlapping camps at Castledykes are both Flavian in date. Others, such as Cornhill, were modified (in that case reduced in size) during a second phase of occupation.


The army built forts at strategic points to secure its newly won territory. Two successive (Flavian and Antonine), partially excavated forts were built at Castledykes, in a highly strategic position near the confluence of several rivers and routeways and also on the boundary between the Selgovae and the more hostile Damnonii. It is perhaps no surprise that the Romans called Castledykes – Coria or the Meeting place according to the Roman Geographer, Ptolemy.







castdykeCastledykes was an extensive complex: aerial survey has also identified the ploughed-out remains of three temporary camps and four enclosures. The Flavian fort was probably built at the end of Agricola’s third or fourth campaign about the time that Trajan withdrew forces from Britain c.100A.D to fight in the Dacian Wars. From an unfinished stone carving , discovered by Professor Anne Robertson during excavations at Castledykes, it appears that the II Augusta was involved in the construction of the Headquarters building. The garrison seems to have been at this stage the Ala Sebosiana as evidenced by a lead seal found infield walking and letters found at Carlisle connecting the unit with Agricola (McCarthy – Britannia) A second, stronger fort was built on the same spot about AD 142. It was abandoned briefly between AD 150-160 and then reoccupied and repaired. The annexes, which have not been examined, may have held a civilian vicus to house officers’ families and traders. Relatively little

click to enlarge
2016-08-11-0001investigation has been carried out on civilian aspects of the Roman period in Scotland, and sites such as this have the potential to yield much information. However aerial photography undertaken by the Royal Commission does indicate that there was a fairly substantial field system surrounding the fort

A much smaller fort was built at Crawford, where the Upper Clyde Valley narrows at a sharp bend in the river, at the junction of roads leading from Annandale and Nithsdale. Excavation found evidence for the timber buildings of the Flavian fort, which was built early in Agricola’s campaigns and abandoned soon after his recall. It was reoccupied and remodelled during the initial Antonine incursion, with buildings constructed in stone on a new street plan, and then altered again later in the period before being carefully dismantled and abandoned after AD 170. This, along with fortlets and watchtowers like those at Beattock Summit and Redshaw Burn, formed a system of watch and ward to monitor and control the local populace.

Roads were a mainstay of Roman occupation, enabling the rapid transferral of troops, information and supplies between forts and other installations, as well as facilitating the movement of traders. The main trunk road from Carlisle to the Forth followed the River Clyde along the modern route of the M74 and A702, from Paddy’s Rickle Bridge all the way to the temporary camp at Cornhill before striking east towards Inveresk. Another artery ran east/west, linking forts like Castledykes to installations on the east coast via Tweeddale; other branch roads led along the Daer and Potrail Waters to Nithsdale and through the lower Clyde Valley to the Antonine Wall. Along some stretches, as at Bankhead, the road is marked by a series of quarry pits where hard core was extracted for its construction; others are visible as lengths of cambered causeway, or are indicated by more modern features such as cart tracks or tree lines that respect its route. Their lines correspond closely to the distribution of temporary camps, which would have provided protection and accommodation for the road construction crews.

Metal detecting finds made at Castledykes in the late 80’s are interesting in that they include nummi of

constantine 1stConstantine 1 , Julian and Procopius. Interestingly they tie in with a passge in Ammianus Marcellinus which describes the reoccupation of a province lost for many years to the Romans which was named Valentinia after the emperor Valentinian. This happened about 363A.D as the Roman Province of Britannia had been attacked by a combination of Picts, Scots and Saxons. The Spanish general Count Theodosius was sent to deal with the problem which he did successfully. After that period nothing else has been found of the Roman period.

There is considerable potential for learning more about Roman-period activity away from the obvious fortified sites. The locations of stray finds could help guide future fieldwork into these. Hoards of Roman coins, such as those found at Torfoot and Lanark, might have been secreted by traders or soldiers.

Stray finds of Roman material could indicate where contemporary activity took place away from the obvious fortified sites – for example, a Roman denarius of Marcus Aurelius found at the Cadzow earthwork, the denarius of Vitellius 69A.D found near Roberton ,the 1st Century A.D Flagon found in 1819 near Birkhill and now in the Hunterian Museum. Further fieldwork in these locations could prove fruitful.


Early Medieval (c AD 400 – 1100)

Sometime after the final withdrawal of Roman legions from Britain around 400 AD, the British kingdom of Strathclyde developed around the Clyde estuary, based initially at Dumbarton Rock and, after its sack by Vikings in AD 870, probably at Partick (Driscoll and Forsyth 2004, 9). There was also an important site at Cadzow near Hamilton which is associated with story of St Kentigern and the ring and as such this would be evidence for occupation in South Lanarkshire in the 7th century.

South Lanarkshire was a veritable melting pot of different peoples. The original inhabitants being Britons speaking a Celtic language somewhat similar to Welsh. The first invaders appear to be the Saxons whose influence on the area has been profound. Lallands – the original English language of Lanarkshire came about as a result of this invasion. The last major group to come into the area seem to be the Vikings – evidence for their presence can be found from Hamilton to Crawford. Linguistically they have also left their mark for example Crawford means – ‘ford on the bend of a river.’

In the seventh and eighth centuries, Anglo-Saxons were certainly pushing into southern Scotland from the kingdom of Northumbria, settling in Ayrshire and East Renfrewshire, and it would seem likely that they followed the natural corridor of the Clyde Valley (as well as sea-borne routes), finding places for settlement along the way. South Lanarkshire probably did form part of the expanded and consolidated kingdom of Strathclyde by the tenth or eleventh century; this is indicated by the death of one of the kings of Strathclyde, Cullen at Abington in 918 A.D The kingdom appears to have been absorbed into the newly amalgamated Scottish kingdom during the first half of the eleventh century under Malcolm II of Scotland.

There are few known Early Medieval settlements in South Lanarkshire such as Cadzow, although some of the enclosures discussed above could have been built or used in this period. Some of the place names and especially river names derive from the Celtic language, including Clyde, Daer, Medwin, Cander and Elvan (Watson 1986, 197). As for the farming settlements of ordinary people, the locations and nature of these are so far entirely unknown. Some small enclosed settlements classified as homesteads, such as Shillowhead, could be of this date, but their chronology is very poorly understood. The Clydes Burn pollen core showed that woodland clearance (particularly of oak) in upper Clydesdale continued from the Roman period until about AD 900 (Banks in prep), indicating continued farming in the region.

The locations of potentially early Christian sites may help guide to future research into local vernacular settlement, as these would have been established close to the settlements they served, and fieldwork focused around chapel sites could identify the locations of contemporary settlement. By the fifth century, Christianity was spreading into southern Scotland, carried by missionaries from the church established by St. Ninian at Whithorn; he may have been the same as the saint known in Old Irish as St. Finnian and in Brittonic as St Uinniau (Clancy 2001). Early Christian sites along the River Clyde and its tributaries suggest that missionaries were travelling up river valleys on their evangelising endeavours, but most of these are poorly recorded and their dates of origin remain unproven. There are traditions of a former chapel dedicated to St. Ninian at Muirhouse, across the River Clyde from Biggar, and another further upstream at Warrenhill. Long-cist cemeteries are generally recognised as the preferred burial rite of the early church; a long cist (or ‘stone coffin’) at Gallowhill is mentioned in records, although no details are available.

st ninians churchThe ruins of St. Ninian’s Church stand at Stonehouse next to the Avon Water, and a stone cist was found nearby, although it may have been prehistoric. At Cambuslang, at the site of a church reputedly dedicated to the sixth-century St. Cadoc (and replaced by three successive churches including the present parish church), a ‘stone coffin’ or long cist was found during eighteenth-century reconstruction. Carmunnock is also associated with this saint. Whether St Ninian was associated with Lanarkshire is debatable as from the 12th century pilgrimages to the shrine of St Ninian were very popular – the dedication of the Norman church at Lamington to St Ninian reflects this development.

The Origines Parochiales Scotiae mentions the names and historical associations of numerous chapel and church sites in South Lanarkshire, some of which may well pre-date the Anglo-Norman period. For example, the place name East Kilbride refers to a church dedicated to the sixth-century Irish saint Bride, which stood near the ‘Kydow or Kyttoch’ burn (Bannatyne Club 1851, 100). Crossbasket (now Basket) in Blantyre parish may derive from cros Pascaid or Pascent’s Cross, a reference to another early saint. St. Kentigern, who died in the early seventh century AD, was the patron saint of Lanark and of course connected with Cadzow near Hamilton. St Kentigern’s contemporary St Serf is commemorated in the name Dalserf. In the eleventh century, the church associated with Carluke was called Eglismalescok, indicating its much earlier origins but this church lay at Maudslie not at the site of present ruined parish church. Lesmahagow refers to the saint Machute or St Machutius who was venerated by the Culdee Church which was established prior to 12th century at Abbeygreen , Lesmahagow. Evidence of their presence is documented in the Liber de Kelso and confirmed by the discovery of two burials dated by carbon 14 to 900 A.D. In Greenshield’s History of Lesmahagow is illustrated a Celtic Preaching Bell found near Lesmahagow.

Some of the holy wells in South Lanarkshire may have originated in the pre-parochial (early Christian) period. The dedications of St. Patrick’s Well, Stonehouse , Patrickholm, Larkhall and Harleyholm Hill (St. Bride) suggest Irish monastic influence. Outside Lanark St. Teiling’s Well was dedicated to the Welsh St. Teilo, bishop of Llandaff, while farther up the Clyde is Lamington, St. Ninian’s Well. Traditions exist of an Irish monastery at Kirkfield, subordinate to the church at Lesmahagow, but its existence has not been verified.

Saxon religious presence is indicated by the dedication to St Bega , an East Anglian Saint from Crowland,of a chapel at , the discovery of an Anglo Saxon cross at Kirklaw Hill near Biggar and Anglo Saxon carvings found near Newbigging.

A tenth-century cross carved with spirals, interlaced with human and mythical figures formerly stood in Hamilton Low Parks and now stands in the graveyard of Hamilton parish church.

Netherton CrossAlso known as the Netherton Cross, it exhibits both Viking and Irish artistic influence, and it may indicate an important early Christian site. Another Early Medieval cross was found at Kirkmuirhill. Hogback stones indicate the cultural influence, if not the presence, of Gall-Gael – the descendants of Scandinavian settlers around the Irish Sea, of mixed Norse and Gaelic blood. They may have moved into South Lanarkshire from the Solway Firth area but that is open to debate..
A hog-backed stone stands outside the seventeenth-century church at Dalserf. Its position close to the River Clyde links it to the concentration of hog-backed stones at the early Medieval church at Govan farther down the river, which became an important ecclesiastical site after AD 870.

Although South Lanarkshire’s inhabitants during this period were Britons, two finds suggest they had links to cultural traditions further north. A massive silver chain in the Pictish tradition, made of 22 pairs of large circular links with a broad open ring engraved with Pictish symbols, was found in a bog in the uplands near Crawcik Water at Whitecleuch. Another partial Pictish chain dating to the seventh or eighth century was found at Borland. These have parallels to a massive silver chain of similar date found on Traprain Law in East Lothian. They may have been votive offerings (especially given the boggy context for the Whitecleuch chain).

Medieval (c 1100 – 1603)

From 1124, David I introduced reforms and new measures that would become the central institutions of the later Medieval kingdom of Scotland and have far-reaching effects in the region. One of these was the feudal system of land tenure, which involved granting Flemish and Anglo Norman nobles large tracts of land, thus ensuring broad military support for his reign. This practice was continued by his successor Malcolm IV (Barrow). The administrative centre of the Clyde Valley was Lanark which was a Royal Burgh and the seat of the Sheriff.

Aerial view of Lanark Medieval Burgh

aerial view of Lanark Medieval BurghNot only was Lanark the administrative centre , it was the commercial centre as well being the focus of the wool trade. Its name was aptly chosen being Lanarch ‘ the Anglo Norman for the place of the wool workers.

To provide themselves with fortified accommodation, these first Anglo-Norman settlers initially threw up earthen mounds or mottes in some cases with an outer bailey. Three castles appear to have had baileys ; these are Lanark, Abington and Biggar.

Twenty-two mottes or possible mottes, built in the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, are known in South Lanarkshire. The surviving examples, especially those outside the more developed northern part of the area, show the value of the agricultural land on either side of the central Clyde Valley: they stood at regular intervals along the river between Hyndford and Abington, where they would have overseen the main routes of communication, trade and travel. One of the best preserved is that of Nether Abington, which makes use of the topography and river bank in its defenses.

Lanark Castle from the Air

Lanark Castle from the air

There are two distinct phases of mottes , those built during the Flemish and Anglo Norman Settlement of the Clyde Valley and those constructed in the period of the Wars of Independence. The later mottes are situated in important strategic points to guard the routes into the Clyde Valley from both south and west and are found outside population centres. Another feature is that they have no baileys. These were constructed in areas under direct control by the English or by those who had signed the Ragman’s role. An example is the Motte at Roberton excavated by Chris Tabraham where a piece of late 13th century cheese press was sealed by the construction material of the motte. Sometimes mottes were used as foundations for later castles such as Crawford .



A brilliant model below of a Motte and Bailey. Credit site : Dr. Ed Morris


A few sites may have been the seats of lesser lords or families whose power declined during the earlier part of this period. At Castle Dykes there is documentary evidence of a stockaded manor house , first mentioned in the fifteenth century as the property of the Douglas family . Traces of a moat, surrounding what was believed to be site of the manor-house of the Symington family, were formerly visible at Symington Place. Another homestead moat has been recorded at Hillhead. Aerial photography has also revealed a site which could be manorial at Lamington north east of the old parish church. The chronology of these lesser fortified sites is generally not understood and more investigation of these and of early mottes could yield much information on early Anglo-Norman and later settlement in the region.

Mottes often became the focus of settlements that included a church, so that political and ecclesiastical power were concentrated locally in one place; a newly established lord would erect a church, exacting tithes from his demesne for its support. Carnwath exemplifies the development of an Anglo-Norman village. The motte was built by the 1st Baron Somerville, probably in the mid twelfth century and has the unique feature of being built around a stone tower The now A-listed Carnwath, St. Mary’s Church, which was rebuilt in 1386 , stood close by, and the village grew up in linear fashion along the road which leads to the motte and church.

The development of churches in South Lanarkshire took place at the same time as the mottes. Some of these were developed by the monks like the church of St Ninians, Lamington

arch-450which has a very fine 12th century doorway. Other churches like Douglas, St. Bride’s Church , St Bride’s Bothwell, St Mary’s Rutherglen were amongst the earliest Anglo Norman churches in South Lanarkshire(the fine sculptured capitals found at the above being the evidence).




Scan-150317-0002-800x507The end of the twelfth century also saw the creation of fine churches such as St Kentigern’s Lanark built by the Praemonstaterian Monks of Dryburgh Abbey where a very fine transitional doorway can be seen.

There are also many traditions of now-vanished chapels, like the one that stood at Cleghorn built by the Valognes family in the 13 th century , many other villages also had their own chapels. Similary monasteries such as Lesmahagow had a number of small chapels such as Little Kype near Strathaven. Little is known about them apart from documentary evidence. There were private family chapels associated with castles, like Crawford Castle which had a chapel dedicated to St Thomas a Becket.

The positions of wayside crosses (many now destroyed) and holy wells mark other, less formal religious foci in the landscape that may have originated in the Early Medieval period.
The crosses were usually associated with monastic settlements and a fine series of place names indicates the position of some relating to Lesmahagow Priory such as Broken Cross Moor and Crossford. One possible wayside cross was found at Blackwood in the 20th century- the only evidence of this being a photograph.

Prominent early landowners in South Lanarkshire included Walter de Moravia (or Moray), who was granted the lands of Bothwell in 1242 as successors to the Oliphant family , and the especially powerful Earls of Douglas, who held their estatesfrom the twelfth century. The families of the minor nobility such as Somerville, Lindsey, Fleming, Loccards, Valognes seem to have been around since the twelfth century. Lands and titles were forfeited and awarded in turns according to changing loyalties and military dominance during the Wars of Independence (1296-1328 and 1332-1357), as men supported John Balliol, Robert Bruce or Edward I; the Origines Parochiales Scotiae details many of the transfers.The principal beneficiaries in South Lanarkshire were the Flemings,Douglases and the Fitzgilberts better known to History as the Hamiltons.

The first phase of stone castles included the Castle of Carstairs. This castle was owned by the Bishops of Glasgow who were given the right to create a stone castle there in 1296. However this was not the first stone castle in South Lanarkshire –this title must go to Bothwell where the keep was built by the Moray family in the 1280’s but was still unfinished by 1300. It was slighted in 1300 then reconstructed in the 15th century. Bothwell castle was not finished till the 15th century and occupied till the 17th century.

The numerous tower-houses and castles in the region map the fortunes of prominent families and stand witness to their former power. Some, like Crawford Castle, originated as mottes and continued in use; here an earlier stone castle was demolished to build another in the sixteenth century, which was in turn rebuilt in the seventeenth century. Couthalley Castle, first mentioned in fifteenth century was in active use to the 1570’s..

Many tower houses or peel towers survive in South Lanarkshire, especially in the upland areas .This process started in the late 15th century when members of the minor nobility wanted better places to live in. Boghall Castle, Biggar and Hallbar Tower started in this way. However most of these defensible dwellings were built during the 1500s, during a period of general social and political upheaval, and several of the surviving ones are category A-listed. The tower of Fatlips, built in the sixteenth century on Tinto Hill in a strong position overlooking the valley, is a good example; Gilbertfield Tower near Rutherglen is another. Many more were recorded in the nineteenth or early twentieth century but have since been lost to development , although their sites are known. Some, like the A-listed Crossbasket Castle and Jerviswood Tower were incorporated into later mansion houses.

There is one royal love nest built at Boghouse near Crawfordjohn for James IV who had it constructed in the early 1500’s for his mistress Jean Carmichael. The building is recorded in the royal records but unfortunately nothing is left of it.

David I created the first burghs in Scotland, encouraged the growth of towns and introduced coinage. Of these only Rutherglen and Lanark were to strike coins in the reign of Alexander III. By the end of the 16th century South Lanarkshire contained a number of burghs, including Biggar, Carnwath ,Hamilton,Bothwell, Douglas, Strathaven, Rutherglen and Lanark. Many of these still have Medieval elements to their layout , although more work is needed – especially in the course of development in town centres – to understand the nature of their early occupation.

Rutherglen, originally a royal manor, was erected into a burgh between 1124 and 1153 and became a centre for local commerce, with rights to control trade and collect tolls over a wide area. The burgh was laid out along a single market street (Main Street). The area to the south of the street was laid out in long, narrow burgage plots, with the castle, parish church, mercat cross and tolbooth to the north. The castle of Rutherglen was an early royal residence, and was granted to Queen Joanna as part of her dowry in 1221 and burned after the battle of Langside in 1568; it stood in King Street near its intersection with Castle Street, but no traces of it remain now. Rutherglen, St. Mary’s Church, assigned to Paisley Abbey sometime before 1189, was rebuilt in 1791, although the A-listed Medieval tower still stands. The extent of the burgh was marked out in boundary stones and the locations of about 40 are known. Although many have been lost, some surviving examples bear inscriptions of dates ranging from 1574 to 1953. The charter that elevated the town to burgh status specified the annual inspection of the boundary stones to ensure its security, and Rutherglen was reprimanded for neglecting this duty around 1581 (Robertson 1974, 49). While much of the area has been built over, enormous potential remains for future investigations, especially in the course of further development, to better understand its development and especially the plan of the early burgh.

Lanark was an important early royal burgh, erected by 1159, and it contains a rich array of Medieval sites. The townspeople still inspect the boundary stones of the Royal Burgh each year in accordance with the rights confirmed by a number of royal charters ; this forms part of a tradition known as Lanimers (Robertson 1974, 49). The earliest recorded instance of this process is 1570 though other elements of the modern Lanimers such as the parading of floats took place as far back as 1488.

Early Photos of Lanimer Queens: (click images to enlarge)

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Lanark Castle was a substantial motte and a royal fortress under David I; the Scots Parliament met here three times between 1293 and 1295, and Robert I took possession of it in 1310. It was due to be revamped in 1346 but this never came about. The site is now the town’s bowling green, but excavations in 1979 found twelfth- to thirteenth-century pottery. William Wallace’s murder of an English sheriff at Lanark sparked the Scottish rising of 1297.

The ruinous Lanark Old Parish Church dates to the late twelfth century and possibly stands on the site of an earlier church. Additions were made to it till 1400 and it became ruinous by the late 18th century. It was replaced as the parish church by the chapel of St Nicholas founded c.1214. Excavations in St Nicholas have revealed the alterations made by Thomas Tudhope in 1571 as well as two 14th century burials. St Nicholas is reputed to have the oldest church bell – 1100 but in reality the current bell is recast from a bell of 1500. The parish church also has a Pre Reformation Alms dish that was manufactured in Nuremburg.

Robert I founded Lanark, Franciscan friary here between 1325 and 1329, the remains of the friary lie adjacent to the Clydesdale Inn. The Lanark and District Archaeological Society revealed the west side of cloister wall in excavations undertaken in 1998. The cloister wall was remodeled in the 15th century due to a donation made by the Douglases. Underneath the 14th century walling was found a section of the lead piping of the Medieval Water supply.In earlier excavations in 1982 some of the glazed tiles from the Friary were discovered.Evidence was also found in the excavation that there was a pottery kiln in the neighbourhood.

Lanark, St. Leonard’s hospital, founded during the reign of Alexander II, stood outside the burgh, but its site has not been located though the general area is described in the first Statistical account. There is another site of a Medieval building on the site of Cook’s travel agency , Lanark. Newspaper reports describe the presence of a piscine in the original building. To the rear of the building is part of a 13th century window and this might indicate the presence of a stone building belonging to the monks of Dryburgh as evidenced by the piscina.

In the Middle Ages Lanark was an important place for trade. Wool was the principle source of Lanark’s wealth . A seal of a fuller called John Divine was found in the Wellgate, Lanark in the 19th century since lost. Other trades such as Amfrid the bone worker in the 12th century are recorded in the Lanark Burgh Records. Evidence of iron working has been found with the location of a couple of bowl furnaces, evidence of bronze working with the incidence of bronze slag.

Trade is indicated by the discovery of a variety of English silver pennies and half pennies of the 13th and 14th centuries. Medieval glass shows connections with the Mediterranean world. The pottery includes Dutch/ French /German and English examples. This is reinforced by the existing records which reveal that by 1488 , Lanark had become a prominent member of the Court of the Four Burghs and was the repository of the standard weights for Scotland.

Lanark was an important centre of administration in the Middle Ages. In 1214 – Scotland’s earliest surviving burgh charter for Ayr was signed by William the Lion at Lanark Castle. It was also here that the Forrest of Lanark was administered. Hunting in this forest was a popular sport from the time of William the Lion(1165-1216).

Excavations at Lesmahagow Priory, a Tironensian house established in 1144, uncovered the foundations of the cloister and surrounding ranges, along with burials; part of the east and south ranges probably date to the late twelfth century. A carved cross, one of four erected when the priory was granted the right of sanctuary by David I, was found at Blackwood and is now in the NMS, and a hoard of Edward I silver coins was also found here in the nineteenth century. Bits of the original priory are still to be seen in the tower of the Parish church built in 1819. The priory originally dependent on Kelso had substantial land holding especially from Lesmahagow to Stonehouse, Lesmahagow to Dalserf and Lesmahagow to Crossford and Kirkfieldbank.

Elsewhere in South Lanarkshire, the parishes of Lanark and Pettinain were bestowed on Dryburgh Abbey; Carnwath, Carmichael, Wandall and Carstairs became the possessions of Glasgow Cathedral; Kelso Abbey was given Lesmahagow, Dunsyre, Thankerton, Symington, Wiston, Roberton and Crawfordjohn, and the parish of Crawford were assigned to Jedburgh Abbey (Reid 1928, 17-18).

prioryThe ruins of the Augustinian Blantyre Priory, established between 1239 and 1248 by Patrick, Earl of Dunbar and his wife, still survive above ground but there is relatively little to see though there some good photographs in Wilson’s History of Lanarkshire (1930). However in the past 70 years or so much of the Priory has vanished due to vandalism and what has survived belongs either to the late Middle Ages or to the Post Monastic Period.

For all the rich historical and architectural heritage of South Lanarkshire’s towns, most of the region was (as it is still is) rural and populated by farming communities during this period. The introduction of feudal land ownership, whether by ecclesiastical or secular lords, would had an impact on the lives of ordinary people. The new feudal overlords did not import many of their own tenants, and the people who lived on and worked the land were probably the strongest element of continuity before and after c 1100 (Lynch 1992, 56, 60). The pattern of rural Medieval settlement before this period is largely unknown, but it may have been fairly dispersed; the feudal system may have encouraged the formation of tighter settlement clusters, often close to castles and around the parish church, especially south of the Forth (ibid., 61).

The burghs would have created a vibrant market for the produce of the countryside. Blaeu’s map of the Upper and Nether Woods of Clydesdale, based on Pont’s 1596 survey, shows a figure holding a basket of apples, a reference to the prosperous orchards of the Clyde Valley. Pont’s map shows a densely settled landscape, with numerous tower houses and small settlements. Mills would have been associated with farming settlements and villages and number of Medieval mill sites have been identified including Foccarton Mill which goes back to the early Middle Ages. These sites can be identified by referring to the records of the Priory of Lesmahagow, Lanark Burgh Records and the Royal Charters.

There is enormous potential for research into Medieval settlement in the area, as very few have been identified. Their remains may survive on the uplands or beneath and among the traces of later fermtouns. For example, at Glassford in the Avon Valley, the site of a Medieval tower is now a field at the edge of the village. Roy’s map of 1745-55 shows a settlement called ‘Castle’ at this location, and traces of it might survive beneath the surface. A longhouse at Dripps could represent Medieval settlement associated with a monastic grange (see below). Stray finds of Medieval date, such as the brass cauldron from Edmonston and the bronze ewer from Gladstone Boreland, could also be clues to the locations of lost Medieval settlement.

Townhead, Thankerton From the Station

Townhead, Thankerton From the StationThe finds of hoards of Medieval coins such as Thankerton and a Flemish Crockard from Lamington show how far the Medieval economy was developed

The abbeys of Newbattle, Jedburgh, Dryburgh and Kelso, significant landowners in rural South Lanarkshire, would have also had a considerable impact upon the landscape. Their well organised granges implemented some of the first agricultural improvements in Scotland. The place name Grangehall near Pettinain may indicate one monastic farm, while there may have been another at Dripps (D Hall, specialist chapter). From the late eleventh century, monastic houses were growing and managing woodland and cultivating orchards on their lands (Sansum, Stewart and Watson 2005, 6). The cultivation terraces visible in the upper Clyde Valley, such as those at Butter Knowe and Kirkton Rig, may well be of Medieval date (although the RCAHMS suggests that Peebleshire examples could date to ninth-century Anglian expansion). The monks of Kelso may have planted orchards on their lands at Lesmahagow, as some of the varieties of apple and pear trees here have the same names as several very old species at Kelso Abbey (Thomson 1960, 38).

Mineral extraction in the region also dates back to this period. In 1239, Sir David Lindsay of Crawford conveyed a mine at Crawford Muir to the monks of Newbattle Abbey; this was for lead, as in 1466 James, Lord Hamilton was prosecuted for stealing lead ore from the abbey’s mines there (Irving 1864, 51).
Gold was reputedly discovered in the same area at Glengonnar Burn during the reign of James IV.Gold coins called Bonnet pieces are supposed to have been made from Leadhills Gold. James VI later granted a lease of the gold, silver and lead mines of Crawford Moor and Glengonnar in 1593 to a company called the Golden Knights that included in their number , the Elizabethan miniaturist – Nicholas Hilliard.

With the Reformation of the Scottish church and the country’s official conversion to Protestantism in 1560, many of the monasteries were dissolved and their extensive lands repossessed by the Crown. Many chapels and dependent churches eventually fell out of use, while others were deliberately destroyed. It is likely that in reality the process of conversion was a gradual one, with many people continuing to practice the Catholic faith.

Bastle houses, or defensive farmhouses, were built during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries on either side of the Anglo-Scottish border, an area which by the late sixteenth century was prone to raiding and lawlessness. Seven are known in South Lanarkshire. Borrowing from the architecture of tower houses, they provided secure accommodation for livestock on the ground floor and for people above, accessible only by an internal stair or ladder. Those at Nemphlar ,Carnwath Mill, Scabgill are well preserved and still occupied, having been extended in later centuries. Others at Glendorch, Maidengill, Glengeith, Wintercleuch and Glenochar are ruinous; several have been excavated, producing evidence for their occupation and abandonment. They are often surrounded by turf banks that represent associated outbuildings and enclosures (Ward 1992, 45).

The Hamilton family were particularly influential in northern South Lanarkshire from the early fourteenth century. There was a royal motte near the confluence of the River Clyde and the Avon Water at Mote Hill, Hamilton Low Parks associated with David I or it could be as late as the 13th century. The position of the Netherton Cross, on the higher ground a kilometre to the south-west, hints that this was already an important ecclesiastical centre in the tenth century. There was a royal residence at Cadzow – either on the motte or, more likely, on the site of Cadzow Castle from around 1139 until at least 1329; both David I and Alexander II issued charters here, and Robert the Bruce also used it occasionally (Brown 1995, 18). John Comyn held the barony of Cadzow, and a claim to the throne, until his murder by Robert the Bruce in 1306 (Reid 1995, 10). In 1315 Bruce awarded it to an Anglo-Norman noble, Walter FitzGilbert de Hameldone (Yorkshire), in return for his allegiance after the Battle of Bannockburn (Brown 1995, 18). The family took the name ‘Hamilton’ in 1375, and would become one of the most powerful in Scotland in subsequent centuries. In 1445 Sir James Hamilton was made a lord of Parliament and the lands were created a lordship of the same name.

The family went on to increase in political strength and standing. Lord Hamilton was created the 1st Earl of Arran after he married Princess Mary, sister of James III. The site chosen for the church (the ruins of which stood till the late 18th century), on higher ground near the Cadzow Burn, demonstrates the shifting of the town to a new location (‘Hietoun’) from the lower lying ground (‘Netherton’), possibly to avoid seasonal flooding of the Clyde. In 1456, Lord Hamilton awarded the town the status of burgh of the barony; this conferred on it certain trading privileges, including the right to hold fairs and weekly markets, under his governance. Around 1360, he planted an extensive oak forest at Cadzow; some of the original trees still survive (dated by Belfast University) Hundreds of late Medieval pottery sherds found at South Haugh, Hamilton, suggest the presence of a pottery production site here, although geophysical survey and evaluation failed to find further evidence for it.

The Hamiltons’ political fortunes fluctuated during sixteenth century. In 1515, the Duke of Albany besieged the castle of Hamilton ,which stood on the site of the later Hamilton Palace), revealing its vulnerability to artillery attack. In response James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, commissioned the new stronghold of Cadzow Castle around 1525; it incorporated an earlier building (McKean 1995, 1082-3). It was built by Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, his illegitimate half-brother, who also built the similar, A-listed Craignethan Castle. As Governor of Scotland for a time, the 2nd Earl of Arran helped to arrange the marriage of the infant Mary Queen of Scots to the Dauphin of France, and received the French Dukedom of Châtelherault in recognition. In 1549, Hamilton was elevated to the status of a royal burgh, which gave it certain political and defensive rights and exclusive local and overseas trading rights in return for military support and income tax. In 1568, Mary found refuge at Hamilton Castle after escaping from Lochleven to muster support for the Battle of Langside. Her defeat there forced her to flee to England, while her supporters continued to fight for her cause. Two years later a member of the Hamilton family murdered the Regent Moray, and in retaliation Hamilton castle was destroyed and the town was burned. Cadzow Castle was also besieged and slighted in 1579 (although excavation has shown that its present appearance is at least partly due to nineteenth-century romanticising efforts). By 1591, Lord John Hamilton was altering the 16th century Hamilton Castle (Pont’s map of 1596 shows a detailed drawing of the entrance elevation at 1:3600; By this time the town appears to have recovered, as it was chosen as repository for the new register of sasines for Lanarkshire (Brown 1995, 20).

1603 – 1760

With the Union of the Crowns in 1603, Scotland joined England under the rule of James VI. Real union, however, was not so easily achieved and the period 1638-88 was especially tumultuous. Both James VI and his son Charles I tried to impose their will on the Presbyterian kirk in Scotland in the name of religious uniformity, and the Covenanter movement developed in violent opposition. After the Glasgow Assembly of 1638, events escalated, leading to the Bishops’ Wars of 1639 and 1640 between the Covenanters and the king. So commenced a period of upheaval in Britain that encompassed the English Civil War, the Irish Confederate Wars, the execution of Charles I and the invasion and occupation of Scotland by Oliver Cromwell’s army (1651-60). Parts of South Lanarkshire were central to the long conflict, and much of the archaeology of this period consists not of built features but certain significant areas of the landscape.

James, Duke of Hamilton was a key player in the early stages of the conflict. Having tried to negotiate compromise between the two sides, he later led Scottish forces loyal to the Crown against the Covenanters and Cromwell. He found himself at odds with James Nasmyth, who was appointed minister of Hamilton Old Parish Church in 1645 and used his pulpit to denounce the Duke (Niven 1995, 105). Hamilton again attempted to negotiate compromise with the treaty known as the Engagement, which only served to increase religious resistance, especially in south-western Scotland. The Duke was taken prisoner after his defeat at Preston and beheaded at Whitehall in 1649, shortly before Charles I was also executed. Scotland proclaimed his son Charles II king on strict Covenanting conditions, which he initially accepted. This and their extreme religious position set the Covenanters at odds with Oliver Cromwell, and after their defeat at Dunbar English troops were garrisoned at various places, including Hamilton after a skirmish at Cadzow Bridge known as the Battle of Hieton. They were also involved in the siege of Boghall Castle near Biggar , excavations done by the pupils of Biggar High School uncovered some of the lead shot used in the siege, a variety of seventeenth century coins including several Charles I shillings and some Turners (Scots equivalent of a farthing English) and most important to the garrison some clay pipes for smoking tobacco.

With the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Charles II broke his promises and restored the episcopacy in Scotland, although the bishops were stripped of their earlier political pretensions. Four hundred ministers who refused to comply with episcopal laws were ejected from office, including 13 out of 14 in Hamilton Presbytery and another 12 in Lanark (ibid. 106). A period of renewed resistance followed, as men from South Lanarkshire and elsewhere met at Lanark to renew the Covenants. An A-listed monument in the yard of Hamilton Parish Church commemorates four men captured at the Battle of Rullion Green (which began the First Resistance) and killed for their beliefs; their right hands were put on display at Lanark. The ejected ministers began preaching to their congregations on moors and hillsides in illegal assemblies known as conventicles, at which Covenanters carried arms in case of discovery by the king’s dragoons. Although these gatherings left no permanent traces, one possible preaching site has been identified at Auld Kirk Wa’s through placename study.

In the uprising known as the Second Resistance, about 60 Covenanters drew up a manifesto at Strathaven to reassert Covenanting ideology. They published it in Rutherglen on 29 May 1679, in defiance of the king’s birthday and restoration. Two days later, they won a skirmish against the Crown’s forces at the Battle of Drumclog; a monument marks the site. However, dissent broke out among them, and many defected or declined to join up. Those in agreement gathered forces on Hamilton Muir and posted the Hamilton declaration on the mercat cross on 13 June. Nine days later, 15,000 Government troops met the much smaller Resistance force at the Battle of Bothwell Brig and delivered a crushing defeat that marked the beginning of the movement’s decline (ibid. 108-9). A monument built into a wall at Earnock supposedly marks the graves of three men killed in the battle. With the 1688 ‘Glorious Revolution’ under William and Mary, another military movement – the Jacobite rising – grew in Scotland, but Jacobite sympathies never took hold in this region where presbyterianism was firmly entrenched. The Cameronian (Scottish Rifle) regiment was first raised at Douglas in 1689; its initial recruits were Covenanters, making it the only regiment in the British army with religious origins. In the earlier eighteenth century, many people continued to be uneasy over perceived infringements on the spiritual independence of the church, exemplified in the right of patronage, whereby a wealthy patron or landowner could choose and appoint the parish minister. This led to the secession of 1733, and would continue to rumble on for more than a century afterwards.

In the atmosphere of religious extremism, distrust and dissension, Scottish society was gripped by several episodes of witch-hunting in the seventeenth century. Most of these took place in the Borders and on the east coast, but there were also instances in the west. In South Lanarkshire in the parish of Crawford-Douglas, 11 women were accused of witchcraft in 1649. Periods of plague and famine during the seventeenth century visited additional hardships on the populace. Protracted spells of bad weather brought repeated crop failures, and outbreaks of plague and famine occurred in 1623, the 1640s (the final outbreak of bubonic plague in Scotland) and the 1690s. The last of these brought the deaths of large numbers of people in South Lanarkshire.

This period was not entirely unsettled, however. The burgh of Hamilton was described in favourable terms by traveller such as John Ray (1661-2), James Brome (1669) and Thomas Morer (1689), who referred to its handsome character, busy commerce and the great house and park of the Duke of Hamilton. They also described the wealth and prosperity of the Clyde Valley countryside. As for the burgh of Rutherglen, its trade was gradually choked by the increasingly prosperous burgh of Glasgow (Gourlay and Turner 1978), and its trade became limited to its rural hinterland.

The first half of the eighteenth century and the 1707 Act of Union brought more prosperous, settled times to South Lanarkshire, with freer trade between Scotland, England, Ireland and the colonies. However, 19 parishes in what was then Lanarkshire formally opposed the Union (Thomson 1960, 28), and landowners and ministers still held the reins of political control at a local level (S Nisbet, specialist chapter). Some of the area’s finest architecture originated during this period. The designed landscape surrounding Hamilton Palace and Châtelherault was first formally drawn up in 1703 by Alexander Edward and later developed by William Adam. Its great, tree-lined avenue ran for five kilometres and eventually linked the Low Parks along the River Clyde, the Palace and the hunting lodge at Châtelherault and High Parks ( Much of the old town had to be evacuated and demolished in order to create it (Brown 1995, 20). The Daurlin Ride through the High Parks, which allowed ladies in coaches to follow the progress of a hunt and still exists as footpaths in Chatelherault Country Park, may date from this time (Paton 1995, 47).

Hamilton Palace itself was reborn as a grand stately home under the direction of the architect James Smith. Beginning in 1691, the south front and east and west wings were rebuilt using foundations and stone from the older house. The old north wing was retained but remodelled inside (Paton 1995, 46). Although the Palace was demolished in 1927, clues to its grandeur survive as architectural fragments and carvings that were rescued from the house and brought to the seventeenth-century Barncluith House and gardens. The elegant hunting lodge at Châtelherault, named after the French dukedom bestowed in 1549 upon the James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran (see above), was built between 1731-43 to the designs of William Adam. Hamilton Parish Church was built in 1732, also from Adam’s designs; although the interior was remodelled in the early twentieth century, part of its original pulpit survives. James Smith designed what is now Hamilton Burgh Museum (1696) as the residence of David Crawford, secretary to Duchess Anne, near the foot of the ‘Hietoun’ close to the Palace precincts.
The weaving of wool had begun on an industrial scale by the late seventeenth century, when Anne, Duchess of Hamilton established a factory at Hamilton; she gifted it to the town in 1706. A small scale lace industry already existed by the time Elizabeth, Duchess of Hamilton, set up a lace making school in Hamilton in 1752 (ibid., 143), and it continued to thrive until the 1790s (Mackenzie 1995, 141-3). The textile trade received stimulation from the Board of Trustees for the Encouragement of Arts and Manufactures in Scotland, which provided grants to encourage flax cultivation and processing, and several lint mills were established in the 1730s (Thomson 1960, 41). There were apparently six grain mills on the River Calder near Blantyre before the mid eighteenth century; local farmers were obliged to take their grain to these mills, which belonged to the Lords of Blantyre, who would take a percentage as rent (Gordon1995, 57). Mining continued at Leadhills; a church or chapel of ease was built there for the miners during the reign of Charles II and new bridges were built including that at Wandel to help to get the lead to Leith and thence to Amsterdam.

The settlement pattern and nature of life in the countryside probably continued much as it had in the preceding century, although changes began to take hold. The system of land tenure consisting of joint tenant farms began to give way to one of single tenant farms, with rental payments due in cash rather than in kind. Few traces of rural settlement have been identified from this period. Greenhill, on the south side of Tinto Hilll, is a possible exception; the remains of buildings and rigs may relate to the fermtoun that existed in the seventeenth century or earlier (Ward 1992). Many of the bastle houses in the region, such as Wintercleuch, continued in use until at least the early eighteenth century. Areas of broad rig and furrow on hillsides in Upper Clydesdale pre-date the late eighteenth-century phase of enclosure. Also on the uplands, groups of small rectangular huts defined by turf footings have been identified, for example at Maidengill Hill; these may be the remains of shieling huts used for summer transhumance. Open-ended rectangular enclosures known as buchts, found on hillsides, for example at Kirkhope Cleuch, may have been used to hold sheep for milking or clipping (Ward 1992, 48). Square turf-banked enclosures with no entrances, known locally as ‘minister’s acres’, were small patches of ground that were exempt from the usual tithe or teind (ibid.).

1760 – 1918

Agriculture and land use

The period beginning about 1760 brought profound and widespread changes to the South Lanarkshire countryside, in terms of enclosure, farming practice, architecture and the settlement pattern. Many of the early agricultural improvements were recorded in the Old and New Statistical Accounts, compiled by the ministers of each parish in the 1790s and 1840s respectively, which document the changes in agriculture and society (Rosie and Kelly 1978).

Roy’s Military Survey (1745-50), Forrest’s (1816) The County of Lanark from Actual Survey and the first edition Ordnance Survey maps of 1856-59 illustrate the progressive contrast between the earlier pattern of nucleated farming settlements (ferm touns) and unenclosed fields and the later pattern of large, consolidated farms and enclosures.

The Duke of Hamilton was one of the first to improve large tracts of his land – for example, enclosing and subdividing 1200 acres in Carmichael parish between 1758-62 and planting 10,000 trees in the parish in 1795. The push towards enclosure was further prompted by the rising price of grain during the Napoleonic Wars; dykes and fences kept livestock from encroaching on arable fields and also made the herds easier to manage. Other improvements included the reclamation of land through drainage – for example, of 200 acres of moss land in Strathaven parish, the first reclaimed bog on which wheat was successfully grown. Drainage, however, was a costly endeavour; in the 1840s, the construction of stone drains in Carstairs cost £11 per 55 yards. The building of embankments along the River Clyde in Hamilton and Dalziel parishes prevented the loss of harvests and created reliably dry land for arable farming.

The practice of fertilising land to increase agricultural yields became widespread. Lime was quarried in many places, particularly in the north-east of the region. Lime quarries and mines were often associated with kilns where the lime was burnt before it was transported to market, as for example at Kingshaw Moss. Lime works were sometimes sited next to coal workings that provided fuel for the kilns, as in the extensive complex at Brewshott, where about 70 clamp kilns have been recorded. Bone was milled in Biggar for use as fertiliser (NSA Biggar)as well as Hyndfrord Mill near Lanark, This was to be replaced by Peruvian guano was imported into the area and dung was brought out from Glasgow for the wheat fields of Cambuslang parish (NSA).This led to the closure of many limestone mines in South Lanarkshire

Wheat and oats appear to have been the most important crops, and potatoes formed a staple food; the minister writing the 1790s account for Hamilton parish credited it with preventing widespread famine in the late eighteenth century. The Clyde Valley was considered ideal for wheat, as it received abundant sunshine in spring and was relatively sheltered from frosts that damaged crops on higher ground. Landowners began to invest in machinery to sow and harvest crops. Threshing machines were widespread by the 1790s, with 25 (10 of them water-driven) in use in Biggar parish by the mid nineteenth century (NSA Biggar). However, scythes remained in use for longer, as they were suitable for harvesting oats and reaping machines were difficult to handle on hilly ground.

Livestock began to be more carefully managed and selectively bred in the early nineteenth century, prompted by a growing market for fresh meat in the towns and the introduction of root crops as fodder. Livestock fairs at Carnwath, Biggar, Lanark and Carluke helped encourage the interchange of ideas and breeding stock among farmers. Sheep farming developed with the introduction of new breeds of sheep, such as the Cheviot and the Blackface, that could withstand cold winters. Dairy farming was a profitable venture, with Dunlop cheese from East Kilbride and Carnwath becoming especially popular. The famous Clydesdale draught horses were first bred in the mid eighteenth century, at Lochyloch, from Flemish stallions. Their breeding climbed with the export of many to Australia and New Zealand and peaked in 1911, when 1,617 stallions were exported; three years later, Clydesdale horses were being conscripted to serve in the First World War.

Certain wealthy landowners, such as Lord Douglas and Lord Hamilton, continued to hold a large proportions of some parishes, including Bothwell, Carluke and Carmichael. In others such as Lesmahagow, land became increasingly apportioned among smaller owners (known as portioners); this replaced the nucleated fermtouns of preceding centuries with larger, individual farms. This along with higher rents forced many smaller tenants out of farming. The many farmsteads shown as unroofed on the first edition Ordnance Survey maps of the area, and listed in the SMR, demonstrate the extent of rural change during this period. Landowners made extensive improvements to houses and farm buildings as well as lands during this period, and estates such as Carmichael were embellished with ornamental gates, walled gardens and dovecots as well as importing new species of trees from Germany. Many traditional longhouses and cothouses were demolished and new farmsteads built; these ranged from simple structures of mortared stone to large, courtyard farmsteads like those at Netherton and New Mains (Naismith 1985, 172-5). The A-listed farmhouse, steading and Dutch barns at Wester Kittochside, ranging in date from 1783 to 1895, illustrate the changes to farming architecture during this period. The farmstead now houses the National Museum of Rural Life, which documents changes in farming practice; however, it does not deal specifically with South Lanarkshire, and certain aspects of the region’s agricultural past should be recorded before they are lost.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, about two per cent of the region was covered in woodland; about a quarter of this had been planted since 1785. Most of it lay along the steep sides of the Clyde valley and its tributaries. William Cobbett, who travelled along the valley in 1832, commented on the quality of the woodland and also of the valley’s orchards. Management of the forests improved during this period, with coppicing on a cycle of 25-30 years (Sansum, Stewart and Watson 2005, 7). Orchards thrived in the Clyde Valley, especially along the south-facing banks, and the industry expanded throughout this period. Apples and gooseberries dominated in the mid nineteenth century, giving way to Victoria plums and strawberries in the later decades. The Clydesdale fruit industry peaked between 1908 and 1913 and thereafter declined, with tomatoes grown in heated greenhouses becoming more profitable (Ironstone Farrar 2004, 4).

Improvements were slower to take hold in the upland parts of the region. In the parish of Crawfordjohn, most of the land was used for sheep pasture as well as black cattle in the late eighteenth century (OSA Crawfordjohn). This was still the case half a century later, when the parish prided itself on the quality of its livestock and made a good profit from the sale of its dairy produce in Edinburgh and Glasgow (NSA Crawfordjohn). Crawfordjohn Heritage Venture has displays on hill farms, sheep farming and rural community life. Shooting butts on upland estates, like those at Nether Law, attest to the use of these areas for recreational hunting.

Industry and commerce

Industry burgeoned in South Lanarkshire from the late eighteenth century onward, mainly but not exclusively in its northern reaches. The textile industry would make particularly significant contributions to the local economy, encouraged by the abundance of wool produced in the agricultural hinterland and the availability of water power along its rivers.

Several lint mills were established in South Lanarkshire during the eighteenth century, especially along the rivers around Lanark, close to flax growing areas. The lint mill at Rotten Calder bears a date stone of 1727, while Lockhart Mill was depicted on Roy’s Military Survey (1747-55).Excavations undertaken by the Lanark and District Archaeological Society in the early 1980’s produced some of the special tiles for drying the flax at Lockhart Mill.

The invention of large, water-powered spinning machines revolutionised the textile industry, and in 1785 David Dale opened a cotton spinning factory at Blantyre. The mill included a dyeworks; pollution from this and other works along the river decimated stocks of salmon in the Clyde, and in the 1780s a dam was built between Blantyre Mill and Bothwell to prevent their swimming upriver in spawing season (Thomson 1995, 94). Blantyre Mill continued to expand until the late nineteenth century, when the cotton spinning trade went into decline, and was converted to produce wood flour to make linoleum in 1906 (Mackenzie 1995, 144-5).

Dale, with Richard Arkwright, also built an extensive group of water-powered cotton spinning mills along with houses and community buildings at New Lanark. Spinning began there in 1786 and by 1793 there were four mill buildings and accommodation for over 200 families. Much of its cotton yarn was exported to St. Petersburg in the early nineteenth century, especially after the defeat of Napoleon in 1813. The mills continued to prosper under subsequent owners. The most famous of these was the social progressive Robert Owen, who made them a model of safety and excellent amenities, and by 1851 the village housed around 2,000 people. Fishing nets began to be produced there in the 1880s and electricity was introduced in 1898, powered by water turbines (Donnachie and Hewitt 1993).

A thriving cottage industry in handloom weaving existed at Larkhall, Rutherglen and Hamilton in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, making cloth from the cotton and linen yarn spun at mills like New Lanark and Blantyre. This declined with the introduction of power looms and factory weaving in the 1840s, but handloom operators took over the weaving of high quality silk, which the power looms could not produce. The silk weaving industry took hold in Hamilton, Glassford, Larkhall and Stonehouse, finally ceasing production in 1939; the silk loom belonging to the last two weavers in South Lanarkshire is on display in the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh (Stonehouse Heritage Group 1995, 182). At Larkhall, Avonbank Bleach and Dye Works was originally a print works, founded in 1796. It was converted to a bleachworks around 1836, and many of the built elements still survive.

By 1841 there were over 4,000 factory weavers in Hamilton alone. Ten years later the number had fallen to 1,222, although it continued to operate; for example, the Hamilton Cloth Factory employed 400 people in 1863. Meanwhile, lace-making had seen a revival. Technological advances in the early nineteenth century made possible the mechanised production of lace netting, in particular tambour lace, which involved stretching the lace tightly over a frame. By 1835 there were 2,500 women making tambour lace in Hamilton for a busy export market (ibid., 146, 151).

The burgeoning overseas trade which was transforming Glasgow and other areas in the west of Scotland had less direct effects here, but it did stimulate some industries, including the Hamilton leather trade. In Rutherglen, a busy trade in coal was blocked by the construction of a bridge over the River Clyde in 1775; by 1793, horses, wool and woollen cloth were the main commodities for sale in its fairs (Gourlay and Turner 1978). With the arrival of the firm of Thomas Seath in 1856, it became an important ship-building centre, and also began to manufacture steel and soap.

Some of South Lanarkshire’s industries achieved particular fame. At Uddingston, 43 Main Street, Tunnock’s Bakery Shop and Tea Rooms opened in 1890. The Glasgow Caledonian Pottery, founded about 1800, was the third great industrial pottery in the Glasgow area. It moved to its present site in Rutherglen between 1872 and 1874, where it manufactured a range of goods, from drainpipes to stonewares to high quality table wares. Its gas-fired kilns, built in the early 1890s, were invented by the owner, William Fullerton Murray, to increase efficiency and were the only ones of their kind ( Other industries are under-researched. Several brick and tile works operated in the nineteenth century and are shown on early Ordnance Survey editions – for example, at Quarry Farm, Glenburn , Kirkfieldbank and Auchengray – but little is known of their history.

In comparison to neighbouring North Lanarkshire, coal mining was relatively small-scale here. There are records of coal extraction in the parish of Carluke as early as 1650 (, and collieries were active in the parish of Cambuslang by the late eighteenth century (OSA). Between the 1830s and 1870s, demand was increasing for coal to fuel the rapidly growing ironwork industry as well as other industries in the central belt. The first coal mines opened in the Hamilton area in 1856, at Greenfield Colliery. Between 1850 and 1900, many specialist mining companies leased mines from local landowners, who were paid royalties on the coal worked and sold. In other cases, iron manufacturing companies took on mining leases to supply their works. A few landowners, such as John Watson of Earnock House, opened their own mines (Clark and Martin 1995, 167-8). Typically, 100-250 men would be employed underground with another 50 on the surface sorting, cleaning and loading the coal, although Bent and Neilsland Colliery employed up to 800 men at their peak. Earnock was the first mine in the world to use electric lights underground, and was famed for its excellent standards. Elsewhere, conditions could be difficult and dangerous: in 1877, 240 miners, including men and boys, were killed in an explosion when methane built up at Blantyre No. 1 and 2 Colliery (Wright 1885). By the early twentieth century, demand had begun to decline and several mines closed. The First World War stimulated the market for a time, but prices dropped sharply after the war ended.

Lanarkshire yeomanry in Egypt

lanarkshire yeomanry in Egypt








Oil was being extracted from shale at Tarbrax, Lawhead Mine and Viewfield Shale Pit in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the extensive remains of mine shafts, buildings and bings are still visible. Much of the stone used to build Glasgow’s tenements and public and commercial buildings between the mid eighteenth century and the First World War came from Overwood sandstone quarry near Stonehouse (Stonehouse Heritage Group 1995, 183).
Scan-150313-00071The first cast iron works in the west of Scotland were established at Wilsontown in 1779, exploiting the coal, ironstone, lime and building stone available on the Cleugh estate. Over the following decades the works developed considerably and became the focus of village that housed almost 2,000, when the works employed 521 men. The remains of many of its buildings can still be traced on the ground.

Industry was not entirely restricted to the towns or large mills. In the late eighteenth century, for example, Lanark boasted a small clock-making industry (Robertson 1974, 229). Albion Motors, one of the largest truck manufacturers in Britain at the time (and now part of the Leyland DAF group), was established by a farmer in Biggar in the early twentieth century, and the company archives are still stored there at Biggar Museums.

Lead mining began on an industrial scale at Leadhills; the A-listed mansion house built for the manager in 1734-6 attests to its prosperity. By 1810, the mines were producing about 1400 tons of lead each year. Production declined over the subsequent five decades, but revived under the Leadhills Mining Company in 1861. In 1842, steam power and an improved smelting apparatus were introduced, and in 1868 about 2.5 miles of underground railway were installed (Groome 1885). Lead mining was to come to an end in the early 1950’s.

It is likely that the growth of industry had some impact upon South Lanarkshire’s woodlands. Mines would have required pit props, tool handles and wooden rails (for pony haulage), and the cotton mills would have needed wood for bobbins. Demand for local coppice wood declined, however, in the late nineteenth century (Sansum, Stewart and Watson 2005, 7).

Population and infrastructure

As farm rents increased and industry began offering better paid and more abundant work than agriculture, many people left rural South Lanarkshire for the growing urban centres of Glasgow, Paisley and elsewhere. Market towns and burghs such as Lanark and Hamilton found their populations falling. In Stonehouse parish, 30% of the male population worked in agriculture in 1851; by 1901, that percentage had fallen to 14% (Stonehouse Heritage Group 1995, 185). The many graveyards attached to parish churches in the region record the names of families who lived and died locally before and after these changes, illustrating population movements between different places. They hold immense potential for research into family history, although many are in a poor state of repair and require urgent recording and remedial work.

Some villages were built explicitly to house mine workers. Haywood, for example, consisted of only one building when the first edition Ordnance Survey map was produced in the 1850s. After the mine opened to supply the Wilsontown Ironworks, its population had reached 1206, and the second edition map (1897) depicts a village with more than 14 rows of cottages, a police station, a post office, a village hall, a public house and a railway station. By 1910, however, six terraces had been torn down. The remains of some of the rows and mine workings can still be seen.

Religious dissent rumbled on through the later eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The process begun in the 1733 secession culminated in the Disruption of 1843, when many people broke from the Church of Scotland to form the Free Church of Scotland. As populations in some areas increased, new churches were built to accommodate the faithful. In Uddingston, for example, at least five churches were opened between 1863 and 1890. These represented various Protestant denominations, but also served the many Irish Catholics who came into the area, mainly from County Donegal, to take up work (Jamieson 1995, 84). Several of the churches opened their own schools, and the school at Lanark had an excellent reputation across the west of Scotland during this period (Robertson 1974, 239).

The expansion of industry encouraged migration to the region. New Lanark, for example, employed numerous people from the Highlands – as well as many ‘barrack children’ from the orphanages of Glasgow and Edinburgh (Donnachie and Hewitt 1993, 40). Between 1814-24, New Lanark under Robert Owen gained a reputation for social progressiveness for its school and Institute for the Formation of Character as Owen integrated his plans for a New System of Society with ideas about the effects of architecture upon human relations (ibid., 97-103). Conditions in the industrial villages could be grim, even in the early twentieth century.

Reports submitted in 1905, 1913 and 1914 on housing in several parishes describe filthy outdoor privies, limited washing facilities, inadequate sewerage and poor ventilation and lighting, although some improvements had been made – for example, at Merry’s Rows miners’ houses in Blantyre ( Duchess Nina, wife of the thirteenth Duke of Hamilton, established an institute at Quarter to improve miners’ conditions, providing pit head baths, a library and billiard room, a bowling green and other amenities, and the miners formed a brass band (Bearne 1995, 145-158).


The Duchess was also co-founder in 1903 of the Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society, with Lizzy Lind af Hageby, and in 1912 became a founder of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Vivisection, which went on to become Advocates for Animals.[3] She also ran an animal sanctuary at Ferne House in Dorset, the estate she and her husband owned





A medical report on Blantyre mill, produced in 1833, commented on the common privy in each working room, the lack of washing facilities and the fact that all spinners’ children over the age of six took up employment there. The missionary-explorer David Livingstone, who was born here, worked in the factory as a boy; the David Livingstone Centre describes his upbringing and the harsh conditions of factory workers at the time, and has some of his personal belongings on display.

The Larkhall and Pleasance Building Society opened in 1814, followed by the Larkhall Building Society in 1824; these financed the construction of many weavers’ cottages, to the extent that Larkhall became known locally as ‘the town of the bonnet lairds’ (Milligan and Sykes 1995, 135). The cottages included both living accommodation for the family and a loom shop with unusually large windows to maximise working light.

The construction of roads and railways was both prompted by and in turn stimulated the industrial boom.

click to enlarge map image:

Caley_main_lineThe Caledonian Railway was begun in 1830 to link the numerous local railways around Glasgow and Edinburgh to the railway network in England, via Carlisle. It used new Birkenshaw rails, which were stronger than other rails then in use, and was therefore the first line in Scotland to successfully take locomotives. The second half of the nineteenth century saw the further development of the railway network in North Lanarkshire, with the opening of many branch lines (Thomson 1960, 71-74). The Edinburgh and Glasgow line opened in 1842 with what would become a major junction at Carstairs. In 1854, the Duke of Hamilton and other investors financed the Lesmahagow Guarantee Railway Company, which by 1858 had become the Caledonian Railway Company. New coal pits were opened along its length, taking advantage of the new lines of transport, and the Mid Lanark Branches were added in 1905 (Milligan and Sykes 1995, 136). The Leadhills-Wanlockhead Railway, the highest adhesion railway in the UK, was built in 1900 for the Caledonian Railway Company to transport refined lead to the central belt. The railway also brought tourists up the Clyde Valley, particularly in the spring to see the fruit tree blossoms.

There was also considerable development of roads. Roads leading up the Clyde Valley and its tributaries were very poor until the late eighteenth century, consisting generally of beaten tracks. Blaeu’s (c 1655) and Roy’s (1747-55) maps show the main early roads, including one leading from Glasgow to Lanark and another artery linking Edinburgh and Ayr (Robertson 1974, 60). With the passing of the Turnpike Roads Act in 1751, many new and much improved roads were built, particularly by the civil engineer Thomas Telford. He oversaw the construction of the Glasgow to Carlisle road leading up the Clyde Valley and built a series of bridges such as the category A-listed one at Cartland Bridge (1819) for the road from Airdrie through Lanark to Abington. A new road between Lanark and Edinburgh, known as the Lang Whang, was built in 1773 and opened up the Edinburgh markets to Lanark farmers; a regular stage coach service operated from about 1790 onward (ibid., 326). A new turnpike road (the modern A72) to Lanark from Glasgow had been built by 1795, and this also carried coaches daily to Glasgow from 1844. The building that now houses the Low Parks Museum in Hamilton once served as a coaching inn (G Hunt, pers comm).

Community life

In many of the newly expanding industrial villages, people organised themselves to improve community life. Larkhall, for example, was one of the first villages in Scotland with its own co-operative movement, initially known as the Victually Society and based in Hamilton Street in 1821. It existed to ensure affordable prices for food, clothing, shoes and medicine for ordinary working people; it even provided an early form of health insurance, and paid out dividends to its members. Similarly, in Stonehouse during the mid nineteenth century, two friendly societies provided sickness relief for weavers (Stonehouse Heritage Group 1995, 181). The Coaliers’ Friendly Society, formed in Quarter in 1799, was an early form of union that freed miners from virtual slavery to the mine owners (Bearne 1995, 155).

The poor of Blantyre Mill were supported by unofficially obligatory contributions from the workforce, administered by a committee of 12 workers. Entertainment was provided for the workers, including an annual soiree first held in 1839. The lead mining areas were provided with a benefit society by the proprietor Duke of Buccleuch, who also established a widows’ fund. Both Leadhills and Wanlockhead had circulating libraries in 1845, founded in 1741 and 1756 respectively, as well as schools that were attended by the lead miners’ children ( A report for the Children’s Employment Commission in 1842 noted that 35 boys (about one-fifth of the entire work force) were employed in breaking and washing of the lead ores outside the mouth of the mine, while young women and girls worked long hours at home embroidering muslin for Glasgow employers.

Click to enlarge image:

Calton Weavers Memories 1The weaving industry had a political face in the form of the Scottish weavers’ union, which formed and reformed on several occasions. The union called a strike in 1812 in an attempt to introduce a fixed price for weavers’ work, which lasted for 12 weeks until necessity forced the workers back to the factories. Weavers played an active role in several uprisings, including the Radical Rising of 1820; one Pearly Wilson of Strathaven was accused of leading it, imprisoned in Hamilton Tolbooth and finally hanged and beheaded in Glasgow (Mackenzie 1995, 148-9).

Many local footballs teams came into being during the later nineteenth century, as people sought diversions from daily life in the factories and mines. Teams such as Uddingston and Larkhall Thistle junior football team produced young players who went on to play for major sides such as Celtic, Rangers, Dundee United and Newcastle United (Milligan and Sykes 1995, 137; Jamieson 1995, 85). Cricket, lawn tennis, cycling, golf and horse racing were also popular with local people in the nineteenth century (Stonehouse Heritage Group 1995, 186).

In Lanark during the nineteenth century, residents revived the Lanimers in 1890. They introduced processions with decorated vehicles, comedians, children in colourful costumes and a Lanimer Queen (Robertson 1974, 49-51).
During the later nineteenth century, an annual tradition developed known as ‘The wee bell ceremony’ or ‘Whuppity Scoorie’, in which boys from Lanark would gather when the church bell was rung at six o’clock, march to New Lanark and fight with boys from that village and with workers returning from the mills (ibid., 58).Now this ceremony takes place on March1st and consists of children running around the parish church of St Nicholas swinging paper balls attached to pieces of string ; this is accompanied by a scramble for the children.

1918 – 1997

Agriculture and land use

During the twentieth century, farming in the region became more specialised, focusing on sheep farming, potatoes and dairy production, while cheese production declined. More land was turned over to grazing, and the agricultural landscape became less diverse as a result. With the widespread adoption of the tractor in Australia in the 1920s, demand for Clydesdale horses fell. Within Britain, pressure to increase agricultural yields through mechanisation also led to the breed’s decline in popularity during the Second World War.

The Clyde Valley fruit industry continued to peter out between the First and Second World Wars, especially in the 1950s due to labour shortages and rising wages. Plant nurseries are now the main commercial enterprise in this area (Ironstone Farrar 2004, 5). Many of the old large estates have been sold off in parcels for agriculture or development, and grand houses (such as Hamilton Palace) have been lost or allowed to decay, along with their designed landscapes.

With the establishment of the Forestry Commission in 1919, and its brief to build up the country’s strategic timber reserves, extensive conifer plantations have been planted. These are mainly concentrated on upland areas, such as at the head of the Clyde Valley around Beattock Summit.

Industry and commerce

The textile industry suffered a general although not complete decline in the wake of the First World War, and the Second World War stimuated demand at mills that were still active, such as New Lanark. In 1951 the village there had a population of 550, most of them adults employed in the mills. It was well known for its canvas, which was waterproofed and exported for the manufacture of tents of all sizes (Donnachie and Hewitt 1993, 186-7). The mills were modernised in the 1950s to produce canvas from synthetic fibres and increase efficiency. However, the accommodation was not up to elevated modern standards and would have been expensive to upgrade. The mills closed in 1986, but in 1975 the New Lanark Conservation Trust was founded to prevent demolition of the decaying buildings, many of which are now A-listed. The village, which now houses about 200 people, is a World Heritage Site that attracts over 400,00 visitors each year.

With the sharp drop in the price of coal after the First World War, many mines became unsustainable and closed during the 1920s and 30s. Only a few pits survived to be nationalised in 1947. Hamilton Palace Colliery revived briefly in the 1950s to extract the remaining coal from beneath the site of the Palace and Low Parks, but it closed in 1959. In the 1950s some small drift mines were opened to extract shallow coal on the uplands at Avonbraes, Beaton’s Lodge and Knowetop, between Quarter, Ferniegair and Larkhall, but these lasted only a decade or so. A few opencast mines continue to be worked, extracting thin seams and the remnants of previously worked thicker seams (Clark and Martin 1995, 173-4). The lead mine at Leadhills closed in the 1930’s, however the Leadhills Library has been re-opened in recent times and contains the original book collection as well as artifacts relating to the mines and village.

Following the decline of coal mining around Larkhall in the 1920s, other industries became established, including a brick works, fireclay works, chemical works and several quarries and foundries; these faltered in turn. More recently, coal bings have been mostly removed or landscaped to clear the way for new enterprises. Textiles continue to play a part of the local economy through the Daks Simpson clothing manufacturer, and an extensive plastics factory, Tilling Plastics Complex, employs considerable numbers of people (Milligan and Sykes 1995, 138). Scotland’s first wind farm was built on Hagshaw Hill in 1994, two miles to the west of Douglas, and the area now supports several others.

The service industry is now the largest sector of the local economy, employing about 63% of all workers ( Tunnock’s Bakery Shop and Tea Rooms in Uddingston is still thriving and employs over 500 staff. Its tea cakes and other goods have achieved almost cult status with, for example, a Tunnocks Caramel Water Appreciation Society at St. Andrews University.

Community life

Bonnington Power Station:

220px-Bonnington_hydroelectic_power_stationElectricity became available to the general public in the 1920s by the Clyde Valley Electric Power Scheme, which exploited the river’s hydro-electric power (Donnachie and Hewitt 1993, 169, 184). The power stations at Stonebyres and Bonnington, now owned and operated by Scottish Power, now generate about 17 megawatts of power between them.

The Second World War took its toll on communities, and the sites of local defenses are still known in the area. An RAF emergency landing ground existed at Dungavel Airfield, and there were anti-aircraft batteries at several places, including Uddingston. Some of these sites, such as Limekilnburn Battery, post-date the war. Barrage balloons like that moored at Cambuslang, Halfway, New Road also helped to defend local people against bombing raids. The Cambuslang, Dechmont Rifle Ranges also date to this period.

While many villages withered with the decline of mining and other industries, the last few decades have seen their regeneration and extensive development, especially in the northern part of the region, where the towns of Rutherglen, Hamilton and East Kilbride have spread to engulf the historic centres and become part of the greater Glasgow conurbation. Many older buildings have been demolished to make way for new development. East Kilbride was reinvented as Scotland’s first New Town in 1947, motivated by a concern for social welfare reform and a desire to create ideal towns for community life; the old village co-exists beside the modern developments. The early co-operatives gradually amalgamated; the Scottish Co-operate Wholesale Society took over the Montgomery Street Co-op in Larkhall in 1969 and the Victualling Society in 1970 (Milligan and Sykes 1995, 137).

The Clyde Valley continued to attract tourism throughout the twentieth century, especially in spring, when daytrips to see the fruit blossoms were popular. Newspaper accounts from the 1950s note the popularity of East Kilbride for convalescence because of its clean air (J Brown, pers comm). Football continues to be important in community life, with many local teams active. Golf is also popular, and the former mining area in Leadhills now hosts the highest golf course in Britain.

The increasing presence of birdlife along the River Clyde attests to its cleaner post-industrial condition, and large stretches of its bank around Bothwell Castle have been designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Strathclyde Country Park provides excellent leisure amenities as well as habitats for ancient trees and for wildlife. It includes the designed landscape centred on the site of Hamilton Palace, which forms the an impressive setting for several category A-listed buildings including Châtelherault and Hamilton Mausoleum. Close to Lanark, the woodland, parkland and gardens surrounding Lee Castle constitute another important designed landscape, with the Falls of Clyde across the river exemplifying the eighteenth-century fascination with the picturesque. The Clyde Valley woodlands are considered some of the best area of riverine and gorge woodland in Britain, and have received protection as a Special Area of Conservation under EU and UK legislation (Sansum, Stewart and Watson 2005).

Local museums hold large amounts of information on their collections and on local history, and these resources have enormous potential for further detailed research. Currently, however, no central portal exists for this information and it would have to be organised and made accessible to facilitate research. More research is needed to put museum collections into historical context, but the amount of time museum staff can spend on research has become limited by other commitments. While local amateur historians local archaeological groups ,the Lanarkshire Family History Society, independent museum staff and volunteers conduct high quality research, this information is not being collated and archived, and will eventually be lost unless measures are put in place to do so. A centralised resource with one portal, perhaps web-based, would do much to facilitate access as well as funds to pay for more staff and to support volunteers to achieve this objective.

122410_97d158aaThere is much scope for increasing public awareness of the museum collections, listed buildings and the local heritage in general. This would encourage more active interest and discourage vandalism, which has caused irreparable damage to sites like Hamilton Mausoleum.






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Thanks to Isobel MacDonald, Gareth Hunt and Joyce Brown for valuable guidance and suggestions, and to Beverley Ballin Smith and Ingrid Shearer for additional advice and support.

Originally prepared s part of a project undertaken on Clydesdale and South Lanarkshire by Glasgow Museum Service. This report is chiefly their work but the Lanark and District Archaeological Society was asked to add to the report with additional comments from Ed Archer and picture material sourced by Ian Murray.

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