Tag Archive: bridges

Dalmarnock Ford

Looking for some mentions of Mary Queen of Scots, I got caught up with the description of her army’s route towards Langside on the East End Glasgow History page. Mary had been captured at the Battle of Carberry Hill, been forced to abdicate in favour of her son (James VI), imprisoned in Lochleven Castle, and escaped to the Hamiltons in Lanarkshire. Scotland was now in the middle of a civil war, between the Queen’s Men, led by the Duke of Arran, and the King’s Men, led by Mary’s half-brother, the Earl of Moray. In her attempt to regain the throne, it’s been decided to march from from Lanarkshire to other allies at Dumbarton Castle.

On the morning of the 13th May, aware that the Queen’s army was on the move and still on the south side of the river, he [the Earl of Moray] marched his forces through the Gallowgate Port onto the Gallowmuir. From this position, if Mary chose to cross the Clyde at Dalmarnock ford then he could engage her on the Gallowmuir itself. If she continued on the southern route towards the Dumbuck ford then he could cross the river and block her path at Langside. From the elevated ground of his location, Moray at last observed the Queen’s army leave Rutherglen and remain on the southern path, and his plan was put into effect.

And that’s the first I’d ever heard of a ford at Dalmarnock. I’ve only ever known Clyde fording points in the Clyde Valley; it seems surreal that it could once be forded when it’s now so deep. Not that it seems that it was safe then either: another page on the same site shares the information that the Dalmarnock Ford

was not the safest of crossings – indeed an edition of the “Glasgow Journal” for 1774 tells of one unfortunate Rutherglen farmer who fell from his cart and drowned when his horse stumbled while fording the Clyde.

A Rutherglen farmer, eh? And according to the Gentleman’s Magazine another young chap, Mr John Lindsay, aged 16, drowned August 3rd, 1811

while bathing in the Clyde, a little above Dalmarnock’s Ford

According to Duncan’s itinerary of Scotland (1820),

When the Clyde is low, nearly a mile may be saved [rather than heading for Rutherglen Bridge] by taking the left hand road at Barrowfield Toll, and crossing at Dalmarnock Ford

The ford was lost when the tidal weir was built beside Albert Bridge at Glasgow Green, and a series of wooden bridges replaced it, to be followed by the current Dalmarnock Bridge.

Additional 20th January
I forgot that the Clyde was in times past commonly low enough to ford, often banked up by sand. Naturally, I can’t find any examples to point towards.


Crossing the Clyde

I always take loads of pictures when I’m out and like to find out about what I’ve actually photographed 🙂 So following our walk to Cambusnethan Priory I’ve been checking out old maps looking at the how the estate has changed over the years.

Fields can often be useful in helping transfer the location of a place on an old map onto the modern map, as their boundaries often remain, even if it’s just by treelines. And it’s always worth following the lines of paths around the estate as paths usually lead somewhere, and most of them have vanished under ploughing or vegetation. Sometimes you can see the ghosts of the routes on Google or Bing aerial views, especially with the angles available on Birds Eye View.

The earliest maps don’t show a lot of detail but there are plenty of roads and paths around, including the one below, which shows a ford across the Clyde from a road leading down from the estate. This road has disappeared under the ploughed field.

From William Forrest's map of 1816, NLS

The road on the southern side still exists, and leads onto the A72 Lanark Road.

There’s a bridge close by from which you can see the remains of the ford, although it’s obviously impossible to tell from pictures just how deep the water is now. Since the ford is still marked on the most detailed OS maps, it should be fairly shallow.

I was also confused by a sign at the Priory which showed the Clyde Walkway going in two different directions (other than up and down the Clyde) . Fortunately there are a series of guides to the Clyde Walkway, which point out that there are summer and autumn routes here to avoid seasonal flooding. So that’s a job for another day.

Dalzell Mausoleum

Took a wander down to Dalziel Old Churchyard today as the BBC had reported lead thieves had caused £15,000 damage to the roof of the Mausoleum.


All of the lead has been yanked out, smashing some of the tiles on both sides. The figure suggested is £15,000 worth of damage for approximately £100 of lead.

Lead guttering removed from Mausoleum.

Since we were down that way, we took a wander round into the old graveyard, which  is sadly dilapidated, but full of interesting headstones. There’s a wonderful project there for someone.

The mausoleum was built on the site of St Patrick’s Chapel (which was probably founded here because of the nearby well, also named for St Patrick). Not that there’s much of the original chapel left, just some stones at ground level.

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On the way back to work, we took a slightly different path and I was astonished to see a bridge crossing the burn, sitting behind locked gates. There’s no word of this bridge on the Dalzell Estate website, or the iron gates that shut it off, but it’s a fascinating mystery waiting to be solved.

The first thing to say about Roman Bridge is that it ain’t Roman. It’s probably a medieval packhorse bridge, although there may have been older crossings over the South Calder Water at the same spot.

To be fair, the Roman connection isn’t far away, so the name isn’t that surprising. Bothwellhaugh Fort sits right on the top of the hill above the bridge, although it’s almost impossible to see  now, and the associated bath-house was moved up the slope when Strathclyde Loch was created. Parts of the road that lead from the bridge to the fort are marked as Roman road on old maps.

According to Scotland’s Places, various specialists have dated the bridge to anywhere from medieval times to the 18th century. The most up-to-date suggestion is that it is medieval, but that it was restored by the Hamiltons in the late 17th century.